Problems of current state and development of the SCO

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Problems of current state and development of the SCO 19.02.2018 14:00

 

February 15, 2018 in the Institute of CIS countries was held a seminar on "Problems of the current state and development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization". It was attended by over thirty experts from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University. Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, National Research University "Moscow Power Engineering Institute" (Moscow Power Engineering Institute), Peoples' Friendship University of Russia. by P. Lumumba, the Russian State University for the Humanities and a number of public organizations. Eleven reports were prepared in the framework of this event.

The urgency of the seminar was due to the fact that in June 2017, during the Astana summit of the SCO, the process of joining India and Pakistan was completed. This marked a qualitative change in the SCO. Against the backdrop of global instability, an increase in terrorist activity and aggravation of socio-economic problems on the territory of the "SCO family," there is a real possibility of weakening the SCO. This requires not only their study, but also an exchange of views at the expert level within the "SCO family."

In November 2017, the Institute of CIS Countries received financial support from the Presidential Grants Fund with a view to holding the Second Sochi Eurasian Integration Forum "Prospects for the Development and Strengthening of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization" in Sochi on April 17-18, 2018. As part of the preparation of this forum, a survey of foreign experts from 14 countries of the "SCO family" was conducted on the most pressing challenges and threats facing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. During the seminar, Russian experts discussed the information received.

For the discussion in the framework of the seminar the following questions were proposed:

- challenges and threats facing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization;

- Russian-Chinese interaction in the space of Eurasia;

- the first results of the activities of India and Pakistan within the framework of the SCO;

- Iranian factor in the development of the SCO;

- ways of realizing the potential of the SCO for the settlement of the Afghan crisis;

- prospects for the creation of the "Great Eurasia".

The seminar was opened by Evseev Vladimir Valerievich, deputy director of the Institute of CIS countries, head of the department of Eurasian integration and development of the SCO. In his speech, he noted the organizational aspects of the forthcoming Second Sochi Forum of Eurasian Integration "Prospects for the Development and Strengthening of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization", which will be held in Sochi on April 17-18, 2018. The speaker noted that in view of the relevance of the Middle East issues and the continuation of the Syrian armed conflict to the forthcoming forum it is planned to invite a representative from Damascus. Then the expert announced an expert survey (by email) of the participants of the "SCO family" from 14 countries, which was previously sent to the participants of the seminar.

V. Evseev said that the results of the survey will be taken into account in the preparation of sectional sessions and the program of the Second Sochi Forum of Eurasian Integration. He also asked the Russian participants of the seminar to send their proposals on the actual topics of the speeches at the Forum sections.

Further on, Anatoly Filippovich Klimenko, deputy head of the Center for the Study of Strategic Problems of Northeast Asia and the SCO of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Lieutenant-General in reserve, made a report. He voiced proposals that could help the Shanghai Cooperation Organization give an adequate response to the challenges facing the organization's participants. The expert noted that these proposals have evolved from rejection both in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and in the SCO Secretariat before being accepted for consideration.

It should be noted that in 2014, at a meeting of foreign ministers of the SCO in Dushanbe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed transforming the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) into a Center for Combating Challenges and Threats. Later, this idea was developed by Russian Defense Minister S. Shoigu. He proposed the creation of an Office of National Military Advisers, which would act as a coordinator for the leadership of the SCO member countries to ensure security in the space of the organization in question. This issue, the expert noted, finds some understanding from China, which in the future could lead to its implementation.

A.F. Klimenko noted that the Chinese side seeks to pay more attention to the security of the Eurasian space. So, the Prime Minister of China Li Keqiang stated about the need to protect Eurasia from challenges and threats. He proposed the creation of a new center that will study the prospects for ensuring the security of Eurasia in order to develop mechanisms that contribute to the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and cybercrime. On the basis of the foregoing, the speaker concluded that China seeks to ensure stability and security in the SCO space with the aim of implementing the "Silk Road Economic Belt" initiative and supports the fight against external and internal threats to the participating states.

Concerning the specific proposals of the expert community A.F. Klimenko, in his speech, suggested that, firstly, it is necessary to create a Coordination and Cooperation Committee on Security (CCSB), which would help increase the effectiveness of the implementation of programs for the development of the armed forces of the SCO members, as well as improve their training. At the same time, the expert believes, the CCSB would ensure military and military-technical coordination of cooperation between the SCO member states. Secondly, an operational peacekeeping contingent could be created. Approbation of relevant experience is already taking place within the framework of military exercises of the SCO countries "Peace Mission" and bilateral military exercises of Russia and India "Indra".

In turn, Beijing presents to Moscow proposals for the transition to allied relations in the military sphere. In this regard, it is advisable to create, within the framework of the RATS or the SCO Secretariat, an effective Russian-Chinese group that could coordinate security cooperation. The main thing, the expert declares, is the ability of this body to solve specific problems. Earlier, China emphasized the fact that the SCO is not a military-political structure, and Russia stressed that the SCO, according to the Charter, is a multi-functional structure that assumes the obligation to ensure security in the organization's space.

In conclusion A.F. Klimenko concluded that the SCO does not yet have an effective security structure, since the RATS performs only a monitoring mission to exchange information between the SCO member states. To increase the effectiveness of the SCO in the field of security, the expert suggested creating coalitions "on interests", taking into account the tension in the relations between China and India, India and Pakistan.

The leading expert of MGIMO-University, the military expert, Kozin Vladimir Petrovich in his speech revealed the essence of the three military strategies adopted at the end of the past and the beginning of 2018 by the administration of Trump: National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Doctrine in form of the "Nuclear Policy Review".

According to the National Security Strategy, the main threat to the US and its allies comes from Russia and China, which play a significant role in the SCO. Both states qualify in this strategy as "rivals of the United States" and "revisionist states" who "challenge the American power, influence and interests." Moscow and Beijing are also building up military capabilities that "threaten" critical infrastructure, as well as US command and control systems.

Proceeding from the "National Defense Strategy", the US will create strong coalitions "to consolidate the success" allegedly achieved in Afghanistan - another SCO observer state. The increase in the armed forces of the United States up to 13,000 people and in the operation of the coalition Resolute Support to 16.000 people will lead to an aggravation of the military-political situation in this country

The reporter noted that many countries with different status in the SCO can be applied the Global Operating Model of the use of the US Joint Armed Forces. At the same time, the US Armed Forces must be capable of combating conventional and nuclear-missile, space and cybernetic weapons within the framework of the concept of the Dynamic Force Employment Concept, which provides for their urgent regrouping to solve suddenly set priorities. Both such installations are contained in the "National Defense Strategy" (2018).

In the National Defense Strategy, the US armed forces are openly tasked with "restraining aggression in three key regions: the Indo-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East." In the new US nuclear strategy there is the possibility of using nuclear weapons in the first strike against almost any state, including when using general-purpose forces against the US. Proceeding from this, the expert concludes that three new strategies can create a security threat both to individual states that have different status in the SCO and the entire organization as a whole. In response, the speaker proposed to strengthen the exchange of views on military-political issues within the organization.

The head of the sector of Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine Post-Soviet IMEMO Research Center Kuzmina Elena Mikhailovna in her report examined the prospects for the creation of the "Great Eurasia". In her opinion, there are no clear documents on the definition of what "Greater Eurasia" is. This idea was first voiced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2016 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Further, the reference to "Big Eurasia" referred to the Russian Prime Minister D. Medvedev, as well as the ministers of the Eurasian Economic Commission. According to the speaker, Eurasian integration should become the core of the "Great Eurasia". But at the same time, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will not be able to build a "Greater Eurasia" at the expense of its own resources alone.

Further E.M. Kuzmina emphasized the interaction between Russia and China in the space of Central Asia. The expert noted that there are disagreements on the interface of the EAEU and the Chinese initiative "The Economic Belt of the Silk Road." So, in 2017, negotiations were completed between the EAEU and the PRC on the establishment of a free trade zone, but it still requires a long way to build it.

Further E.M. Kuzmina stopped at two points. First, these are the prospects for the establishment of the SCO Bank, secondly for the creation of the SCO Energy Club. The expert said that according to the opinion of S. Shukhno, Director of the Development Department of the Integration of the Eurasian Economic Commission, it is planned to create a general energy market by 2025 within the framework of the EAEU. But this, according to the speaker, can only happen through the prism of the relationship between the EAEU and the PRC. In particular, it is necessary to divide the powers in the transport-logistical and partially industrial spheres. And this will help create favorable conditions for the formation of the "Great Eurasia".

Ruban Larisa Semenovna, director of the Center for Global Studies East-West at the National Research University "MPEI" in her report drew attention to the features of the Russian-Chinese energy cooperation. The expert noted that the Russian Far East is an energy surplus region. From joint Russian-Chinese significant projects, L.S. Ruban has allocated oil pipelines "Eastern Siberia - Pacific Ocean" with a branch to Daqing and "Atasu-Alashankou," which is part of the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline system. In her opinion, in the framework of these projects, the purchase prices for oil are extremely unprofitable for Russia. A similar situation is observed in the gas transaction with respect to the "Siberia Power" gas main. In contrast, the researcher cited the China-Kazakhstan mutually beneficial interaction as an example. In conclusion, she suggested that Moscow needs to more clearly emphasize its national interests, including in the energy sector.

Director of the Center for African Studies of the PFUR, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of the Department of Theory and History of International Relations Yurtaev Vladimir Ivanovich in his report noted Iran's foreign policy prospects and their refraction to the West, Russia and China. The main thesis of the speaker was that Iran is emerging from international isolation and the sanctions regime. From this point of view, the development of the economy and ensuring social justice remain an important moment for the state. Even if Iran does not enter as a full member in the SCO, China, he believes, can become one of the vectors of the economic development of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But in this case Iran will face the competing interests of Europeans and Americans for Chinese investment. In turn, Beijing is not interested in expanding the SCO. And with the aim of developing and strengthening Russian-Iranian relations, the expert suggested creating a group on joint interests in integration with Iran in the context of the SCO.

Sazhin Vladimir Igorevich, senior researcher of the Iran sector of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in his speech, outlined some aspects of Iran's foreign and domestic policy. The expert noted that Iran was active in the SCO, when during the reign of the conservative president M. Ahmadinejad; tough financial and economic sanctions were acting against him. The policy of the President-reformer H. Roukhani is aimed at resolving the nuclear crisis and leaving the country from the international isolation, as well as the economic development of the Islamic Republic. As a result, in July 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (CAPA) was agreed upon to ensure the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.

According to V.I. Sazhin, Iran is currently focused on the West. Thus, there is a restoration of Iran's trade with the European Union (an increase of up to $10 billion in 2017). But meanwhile, in the Islamic Republic there is a complicated internal political situation. At the same time, two factions are fighting for power: "liberals-reformers" headed by President H. Roukhani and "conservative radicals". And if in May 2018, the SVPD ceases to operate, in view of internal and external challenges and threats, Iran will again show interest in the SCO.

Acting Director of the Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage D.S. Likhachev, candidate of philological sciences Bakhrevsky Evgeny Vladislavovich in his speech dwelled on the humanitarian and cultural aspects of the SCO in opposing the unification of Western (American) culture in the space of "Big Eurasia". The expert notes that the cultural image of the SCO member countries in the member countries of this organization is rather low. In this regard, it is necessary to popularize the cultures of the SCO member countries, starting with the production of cultural products, ending with the creation of a network of cinemas of the SCO member countries. Only this, in his opinion, will to some extent become a counterbalance to American cinema and Western culture in general.

Associate Professor of the Institute of Asian and African Studies of Moscow State University Volkhonsky Boris Mikhailovich considered the factors influencing the activities of the SCO in India and Pakistan. The expert described the problem of Afghanistan as the first moment. Thus, Indian experts believe that to solve this problem it is necessary to create a tripartite union of India, Russia and Iran. In turn, Pakistani experts offer their tripartite alliance of Pakistan, China and Russia. The expert believes that each side has its own interests and, in the end, there is a zero-sum game. Instead, it is necessary to work out a common approach to the solution of the Afghan crisis, and not become a hostage to someone's opportunistic interests.

The expert pointed out the risks of India and Pakistan in connection with the continuation of the armed conflict in Kashmir. When joining the SCO, both sides pledged not to endure their bilateral problems on the site of the organization.

The third point, according to the expert, is the integration projects: "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor" and the International Transport Corridor "North-South". The reporter noted that only one of these projects is considered to be fully realized in Delhi and Islamabad.

The fourth point, which the expert stressed, is the problem of regional water use. China, being a monopolist on water use in South Asia, solves problems on a bilateral basis. However, in South Asia, the experience of solving the problem of water use in Central Asia, including on the basis of the relevant convention, can be used.

Elena Boykova, Senior Researcher of the Department of Korea and Mongolia of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in her speech, showed the current position of Mongolia in the SCO. She stated that in 2004 Mongolia joined the SCO as an observer country, and from that time her position on the issue under consideration remains unchanged.

In 2017, the country experienced an internal political crisis, as a result of which the country's leadership was replaced. However, this did not affect foreign policy, including the issue of participation in international organizations. In recent years, Russia and China have repeatedly offered Mongolia to raise its status in the organization. But Ulaanbaatar did not go for it. One of the reasons for this is that Mongolia in this status can develop good-neighborly relations with both Russia and China. In case of full membership in the organization, the country is afraid of becoming dependent on one or other political center of the organization.

Another reason is that Mongolia is simultaneously developing partnerships with the US, EU and Japan. Moreover, these states are the main investors in the economy of Mongolia and the third neighbors. Under such conditions, full membership in the SCO will complicate Mongolia's relations with the above-mentioned countries.

Further, according to the expert, Mongolia positions itself as a democratic state. According to the rating of democratization, it is on the 61st place, while Russia is on 134, and China is at 136. Therefore in the political circles of Mongolia the opinion is widespread that "the SCO is an authoritarian club whose members are concerned about the security of their regimes."

E.V. Boykova notes the expansion of Mongolia's relations with NATO, which causes particular dissatisfaction on the part of China. At the same time, Ulaanbaatar is interested in developing economic cooperation, while the SCO is more a political organization. Nevertheless, Mongolia uses the SCO as a platform for a tripartite dialogue and establishing economic cooperation with its neighbors and creating an economic corridor. Consequently, Mongolia's participation as a full member of the SCO is not yet considered by the country's leadership as a possible goal. Although Mongolia seeks to develop multilateral contacts, its relations are developing more successfully on a bilateral basis.

Advisor to the President of the World Congress of the Abkhaz-Abazin people, candidate of sociological sciences Kobakhia Beslan Valerianovich believes that the SCO is an instrument of opportunities for solving many problems and conflicts in "Big Eurasia". This organization, the expert notes, should be used as a counterbalance to the creation of a military Schengen and NATO activity on the eastern borders of Russia. The speaker also believes that the North Caucasus is an integral part of the historical "Silk Road", so it is advisable, with the help of Russia, to connect the republics of this region to the integration processes of Moscow and Beijing in the post-Soviet space.

An expert of the Center for Caucasus, Central Asia and the Urals and Volga Region of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Areshev Andrey Grigorevich, noted in his speech that there is a danger of transformation of Central Asia into the Eurasian Balkans (note the terminology of Z. Brzezinski).

The reporter believes that it is necessary to develop peacekeeping missions on the basis of SCO military exercises "Peace Mission" and "Combat Brotherhood" within the framework of the CSTO. However, the researcher notes, these formats are opposed by the following structures (interaction formats): C5 + 1, which provides for the soft power of the West in the region; military exercises "Steppe Eagle"; cooperation between China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. As part of the latter, as far as can be judged from open sources, the Chinese military base will be deployed or already under construction in the Vakhan corridor of Afghanistan. The Chinese military base will be stationed or already under construction. These formats are aimed at blurring the interaction that exists within the framework of the SCO, CSTO and other structures. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on ensuring coordination between the SCO and CSTO members, as well as to improve the effectiveness of interaction between them. Thus, the seminar confirmed the significant interest of the Russian and foreign expert community in the problems of transformation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, after joining its members India and Pakistan. In the opinion of the seminar participants, this creates serious challenges for the Organization in view of the persistence of the armed conflict in Kashmir and the unresolved territorial problems between Beijing and Delhi.

However, the SCO faces other challenges and threats caused by the Afghan crisis, terrorist activity in the organization's space, the presence of water, energy and socio-economic problems. It seems that they should be addressed both within the framework of Russian-Chinese cooperation and the strengthening of Eurasian integration.