Economy and Security: Results of the SCO Summit in Bishkek« Back
The next summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was held in Bishkek in a period of difficult international situation, against the background of the emergence of new and diverse threats. Destabilization in Afghanistan stimulates the growth of the danger of terrorism and drug trafficking for the SCO countries, trade wars, including the current conflict between the United States and China, lead to the fragmentation of the international market. Members of the Organization are forced to seek answers to the challenges of our time.
At the same time, the SCO has great potential. Currently, 43% of the world's population lives in the participating countries and they account for more than 25% of global GDP. The participating countries, first of all, Russia and China, control the main connecting routes East-West in the Eastern Hemisphere, including the Northern Sea Route, the shipping route China-Europe through the Suez Canal, the land transit route through Kazakhstan and Russia.
However, until recently, the economic potential of the Organization was little used. The regional specificity, including the "Afghan factor" and the associated threats, left its mark.
The Bishkek Summit was marked by the expansion of the organization’s economic functions. They discussed the problems of industrial cooperation, the creation of technology parks on the territory of the SCO, the transition in trade among the member countries to national currencies. The work on the conjunction of the Silk Road Belt and the EAEU projects within the framework of the idea of Greater Eurasia was on the agenda. As a result, a number of specific agreements were signed, including on cooperation between the SCO secretariat and the Astana financial center in Kazakhstan.
However, many economic issues are resolved by participating countries bilaterally. Evidence of this is the package of agreements signed by Russia and the People's Republic of China shortly before the summit, including the joint development of 5G mobile networks, the development of software for smartphones, and the construction of nuclear power plants. A similar package of agreements was signed by the Chinese delegation, which arrived a day earlier in Bishkek, with representatives of the Kyrgyz business. The framework of economic cooperation of the participating countries will be expanded in the future. In particular, Iran, which has observer status in the SCO and participated in the summit, recently ratified a free trade agreement with the EAEU, thus creating a basis for expanding trade contacts with Russia and the Central Asian countries of the SCO. In general, the Organization's interaction with related projects, including the CIS, the EAEU and BRICS, which was also discussed at the summit, allows for a wider and more efficient implementation of the economic potential of the merger.
However, still a lot of attention has to be paid to safety. Among the main issues of the Bishkek meeting were the joint fight against drug trafficking, the work of the Organization's contact group to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan, the problems of combating terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They also discussed the issue of creating a new SCO structure to combat economic crime, including smuggling and money laundering. Next year, an active joint work is planned on border security, including for the prevention of drug trafficking and the penetration of militants from the territory of Afghanistan. This, in particular, is about the continuation of the joint operation of the border services "Solidarity 2019-2021", as well as information cooperation through the RATS and other structures.
An important sign of the summit was the active involvement of the SCO in the work of international institutions. In particular, memoranda of cooperation were approved with a number of UN agencies, the World Tourism Organization and others. This can be considered a definite achievement, given the attempts a number of Western countries to boycott the work of international associations that arise without their influence and participation.
In addition, as part of the logic of the political confrontation between Beijing and Washington, mentioned above, the United States is actively trying to create tension between China and its partners in Central Asia. There is an information campaign accusing the PRC of persecuting the Turkic population; even protests are being provoked against the regional governments friendly to Beijing. Examples include the January anti-Chinese speeches in Bishkek and the recent unrest in Nur-Sultan and Almaty, in support of which some publications blamed US funds. In this regard, the final declaration of the summit on the inadmissibility of the intervention of external players in the internal affairs of sovereign states acquires a special meaning. This principle of international law today, many, alas, neglect.
Finally, it should be noted that the summit was very calm and without excesses, despite the difficult international background. More recently, border conflicts have occurred between Pakistan and India, as well as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Against Beijing, the United States is engaged in an economic struggle, and Tehran is once again faced with direct military threats. However, all these events inside and outside the framework of the SCO did not prevent the summit from taking place, and its potential was used by the parties for direct contacts to resolve current issues.
So the Bishkek summit can be considered successful. Without loud sensations, the SCO is developing, creating new structures and formats for cooperation, not only in the area of security, but also in economic construction.