Bakhtiyor Khakimov: "One way: to increase dialogue, develop cooperation and improve SCO"« Back
The summit in Astana is already called historical: the SCO is expanding - the "six" is turning into the "eight", growing by India and Pakistan. It is clear that the future is the adaptation of these new members to the work of the SCO. How complex will this process be, in your opinion?
- The admission of two large states to the SCO is a key event of the meeting of the Council of Heads of State on June 8-9 in Astana. A qualitatively new stage in the development of the Organization is opening. Of course, further it is necessary to embed new members in the work of the SCO, inventory the past path, and assess prospects and opportunities for further development and deepening the cooperation.
The figures that I will quote are a well-known fact: with the accession of India and Pakistan, the SCO will unite 44% of the world's population, where about 24% of the world's gross product is produced. These are external indicators that give an idea of what prospects are opening up to the Organization.
- Procedural documents on the admission of two new countries to the Organization have been prepared for a rather long time. What are the principles of expanding the SCO and how much are the risks calculated?
- The Regulation on the admission of new members provides for a set of criteria that must necessarily correspond to the states applying for membership in the SCO. And if at least one of the criteria potential "newcomers" do not pass, then no decision on the beginning of the procedure cannot be. The Regulations clearly indicate all the conditions that applicants must fulfill. The key is that the applicant state must declare its readiness to abide scrupulously by all obligations existing under the existing agreements and agreements of the SCO. This was done both by India and Pakistan. In official applications and other documents, New Delhi and Islamabad confirmed that in a timely and unconditional way, without any exceptions, they will join the rules of the Organization binding on each member. It should be noted that India and Pakistan fulfilled the set conditions promptly and in time, joining almost thirty basic documents of the SCO.
If we talk about risks, then the soil for their occurrence is practically absent. The key principle of the SCO - consensus - was, is and will remain. Of course, there are always and will be special positions of states, this is natural. However, the principle of consensus does not mean that during the 16 years of the Organization's existence, all decisions were taken instantly and "with a bang". Many of them were never adopted precisely because of the lack of universal consent. And this is a normal process.
I repeat: both New Delhi and Islamabad have repeatedly stressed their willingness to comply with all the rules of the SCO, as well as refrain from bringing any bilateral differences to the SCO soil.
- Here, the SCO can be an authoritative and powerful conciliator ...
- I fully agree with you. One of the arguments that the Russian side used in explaining our desire to accelerate the process of admitting India and Pakistan to the SCO was that the SCO platform was a convenient platform for exchanging views for the sake of finding mutual understanding. Way one: build up a dialogue.
- At the SCO summits, it was decided to sum up, determine the life of the Organization for the future, and express a common opinion on world events. What points will be reflected in the Astana Declaration?
- Work on the preparation of the summit is still ongoing. Although the Astana Declaration has been adopted as a basis, there may still be some adjustments, additions. In general, a good political document is obtained without pomposity and sensations, which will become the basis for further joint work.
The Declaration reflects, first of all, coordinated positions and approaches to the key issues of the SCO activities, the world and regional agenda. The united position of the member states on strengthening the central role of the UN in international affairs, the political settlement in Syria and Afghanistan, in particular the resumption of the activities of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group is noted. The SCO partners support the Russian position in favor of resolving the situation in Ukraine on the basis of strict compliance with the Minsk agreements. There is also a common understanding of the need for active participation in economic affairs, the development of humanitarian ties. The main thing, as always, is the practical implementation, the implementation of a particular document.
- What proposals of Russia were not reflected in the final documents of the summit?
- Naturally, each state seeks to reflect its ideas, initiatives in the documents of the summit. Those that are not accepted immediately, we withdraw, proceeding from the fact that convincing the partners to agree with this or that approach is the task of the subsequent work. For example, there is a certain restraint in issues related to the integration processes in Eurasia, support for the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union, the project "One belt is one way". Well, we will continue to convince.
- And now about terrorism, the global trouble of our life. One of the first substantive documents of the SCO declared the creation of a Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure - the RATS. Russia proposed to develop this format by creating a Universal Regional Center. However, the idea was not approved, and the question was removed, presumably, "until better times". How relevant is it now, will a more powerful structure be created for interaction on the antiterrorist vector?
- RATS is functioning effectively, successfully resolving the priority task of consolidating the efforts of the SCO member states to combat the threat of terrorism. In order to improve the RATS, the Russian side proposed the creation of a universal center on countering security challenges and threats to the SCO on its basis. Today, we are confronted with interrelated phenomena, when terrorist activity is fueled by proceeds from illicit drug trafficking, and cross-border crime becomes a tool used to recruit militants. In this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated an initiative to improve the RATS. The idea was not rejected as such, but so far the restrained attitude of individual partners has been manifested. So the issue is not closed, it remains on the agenda.
- Which direction of the SCO activity is most successful, and which is sinking?
- I would like to recall that the SCO was created on the basis of the experience of many years of negotiations on confidence-building measures at the borders, and it was in this sphere that the main baggage of interaction was accumulated. When the SCO Charter was discussed, it was decided that the SCO should become a more universal organization, and it happened. At the initial stage, emphasis was placed on the first design - the Regional Antiterrorist Structure. Later, other areas of cooperation began to take shape. For example, humanitarian contacts are actively developing; a legal basis for cultural exchange and education has been created. A unique project of the SCO University was implemented, uniting the intellectual forces of the best universities of the SCO member countries. On the sidelines of the summit in Astana, an intergovernmental agreement must be signed, which legally secures the existence of this University.
Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to talk about comprehensive economic cooperation. But there are some fairly developed directions. As an example, we can cite cooperation in the field of transport; in particular, the Agreement on the creation of favorable conditions for road transport has been reached. It came into force, in May; the first meeting of the joint commission will take place, which will regulate this work.
Weak places in the SCO, of course, there are. Obviously, it is difficult to expect from an organization that is only 16 years old, total success in all directions. When the Charter was prepared, the experience of already existing multilateral organizations, including ASEAN, was borrowed. In this regard, I want to recall that this structure has developed for 40 years before coming to the adoption of the Charter. At us the process went from the opposite: at first they adopted the Charter, and then began to build the directions of cooperation.
- How successfully did the SCO establish relations with other international organizations?
- In this sphere, the SCO is very active. Documents of different formats on mutual understanding and cooperation with the UN, CIS, CSTO, ASEAN, UNESCAP, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime were adopted. Cooperation is consistently expanding, and this is not an exaggeration. The SCO abbreviation sounds louder and louder in the world. The issues of cooperation between regional multilateral associations, in particular the CIS, CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, were discussed in November last year by one of the meetings of the UN Security Council chaired by Russia. The SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and the Director of the Executive Committee of the RATS Evgeny Sysoev took part in the anti-drug forums in Vienna; recently they were invited to the OSCE events dedicated to new challenges and threats. All this indicates that the SCO is in need, and its opinion is being listened to.
- Critics and pessimists can no longer discount the fact of the existence of the SCO, which increasingly sets the tone for international development. Nevertheless, the Western press, some experts still allow an ironic tone in relation to the SCO. Why such disregard, do you think?
- I think that from ignorance and misunderstanding, and even from the subjective views of individual journalists or experts. But the key point is that everyone will have to closely monitor the activities of the SCO. Moreover, India and Pakistan become members of the organization. In its new capacity, the SCO will become much more influential.