Report on the Roundtable "Actual problems of the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization"

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Report on the Roundtable "Actual problems of the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization" 28.07.2016 16:58


June 24, 2016 a round table on "Actual problems of the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization" was held in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, which was attended by 44 people, including media representatives. In total 13 reports were presented in the framework of the round table.

Zatulin Konstantin Fedorovich opened the round table, head of the working group of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation on the Eurasian integration and the development of the SCO and other institutions of international cooperation, the director of the Institute of CIS countries.

In his speech, he recalled on April 19-20, 2016 in Sochi, the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation and the Institute of the CIS countries held the International Forum "On the second track. The role of civil society and public diplomacy in the further development and expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization", which brought together 327 delegates from Russia and 25 foreign countries, including representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In his view, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in its activity is gaining momentum, as manifested, for example, in the course of its expansion. So, at the Ufa SCO summit (2015), it was decided to include India and Pakistan in the SCO, Iran is in line.

There are some categories of SCO supporters, observers and dialogue partners. But this interest in the Organization is not limited, because other countries that do not belong to SCO members (observers or dialogue partners) have shown interest in developing cooperation with the organization.

SCO Forum format continues to operate consisting of delegations formed by national research centers. In Russia, these functions are performed by MGIMO (University) MFA of Russian federation Center for East Asian and SCO research. And we very much appreciate the work and efforts of colleagues who are engaged in this business.

However, the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, without claiming the ultimate truth, wants to raise the question of a few more than just a scientific study or examination. We are talking about how to strengthen the role of civil society and public diplomacy in the development of the SCO. For these purposes our Sochi forum has been created.

We are talking about the fact that our country has a special structure - the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, which is designed in accordance with the division of responsibilities and powers to unite efforts of civil society and to target at a specific way to work non-profit sector (NGOs). All this, of course, cannot be reduced to scientific research or narrow screen forums as large-scale inclusion of social forces in the Eurasian integration is needed.

Of course, this kind of questions is often the lot of politicians’ exceptionally of high level: presidents, ministers and ambassadors. But without the activation of the non-profit sector in the modern society, in the current international context - any integration association is doomed to failure and problems. This was confirmed, for example, by the results of the referendum in the UK, which shocked the European Union (EU). It turned out that the EU is not as good as it seems from the top. From below it looks very different. Anyway, for those who voted in the referendum. Moreover, issues of international integration are too serious to subcontract them to third parties in full and not to participate in the discussion.

According to K. Zatulin, the SCO is a common form of deeper cooperation between Russia and China, and those who joined them. Of course, Moscow and Beijing have their friends and enemies. They line up in their own way, and relations with other states of Eurasia.

Thus, issues of expansion of the SCO are delicate questions. And not always it is possible to reach an understanding on the official negotiations. Consequently, the necessary platform to discuss the compatibility of certain acts in the SCO is needed, and now the project, announced by Vladimir Putin at 20-th Petersburg International Economic Forum as an idea to create a "Greater Eurasia". The same we talked at our International Forum in Sochi, given the presence there of the majority of the countries of Eurasia, and not only the SCO member states. It was quite reasonable on the background Trans-Pacific Partnership activity, and attempts to create the Transatlantic Partnership, which is now actively lobbed by the United States.

Another idea also seems to us very important. Together with the collapse of the Soviet Union, changes in the world, the collapse of the socialist camp, it was forgotten. Countries of the Non-Aligned movement are often referred to themselves as the "third world". The latter did not want to get involved in an arms race and confrontation between the countries of the socialist camp, on the one hand, and the United States and other capitalist countries. At the same time supporters of the Non-Aligned Movement had independent political influence and solved very serious economic problems within the movement. And, of course, the spirit of the Non-Aligned Movement was vital during our Forum in Sochi. I believe that such spirit also hovers over projects such as the idea of "Greater Eurasia".

In conclusion I would like to recall that the Declaration was adopted at the end of the Forum. Later, we have summarized the proposals of all the participants and proposed them to you in the form of the draft outcome document of the International Forum in Sochi. I consider it appropriate to discuss in the course of our meeting.

In her speech Kirillova Alevtina Grigorevna, Advisor to the Minister of Transport, said that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a result of its expansion is becoming global and more and more important, gaining influence among the leading regional organizations. In this integration process in Eurasia 3.5 billion people are involved, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $330 trillion. In this connection it is necessary to supply a practical solution to problems through the creation of transport corridors for optimum transfer of goods and services of the SCO member states. Logistics solution to this problem and construction of new means of communication, including in the form of high-speed transport between the SCO countries, will not only speed up the delivery of goods but will also significantly improve the mobility of the local population.

Uyanaev Sergey Vladimirovich, First Deputy Director of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies in the report "New members of the SCO: strengthening the global role of the Organization and institutional values," said the following. Firstly, in 2016 the SCO celebrates two jubilee events: its 15th anniversary and the 20th anniversary since the establishment of the so-called "Shanghai Five."

Secondly, the SCO has gone through major quantitative and qualitative changes. Quantitative changes: - the expansion of the Organization at the Ufa SCO summit (2015), when preparations for the entry into it as full members of the two major countries of South Asia - India and Pakistan, as well as adherence to the Organization as partners in the dialogue of the Southern States Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan) and Southeast Asia (Nepal, Cambodia).

Qualitative changes in the SCO concern the following points:

- in 2015 the SCO adopted a Development Strategy up to 2025;

- in 2016 in Tashkent, to a plan for implementing this strategy was agreed.

Sergey Uyanaev also noted the importance of geopolitical factors and the growing influence of the Organization, which produces 1/3 of the world's GDP.

He paid special attention to India, which has positioned itself as a major player in world affairs, a possible candidate for the permanent members of the UN Security Council and a country with a dynamic economy (third point in the world). In addition, India is a de facto nuclear power.

In this regard, the role of the RIC (Russia, India and China) is growing, as the center (nucleus) of the Eurasian Group of Eight. And the initiative to create a RIC belongs to RAS Academician and Prime Minister in 1998 - 1999 E. Primakov. Currently, RIC contains of 20% of world GDP, 1/5 of the land, 40% of the population. Now issues of cooperation and regional policy dialogue on the line ministries and agencies are discussed within RIC.

Kiryanov Artem Jurjevich, first deputy chairman of the Commission on the development of social infrastructure and housing and communal services of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, in his report "The cooperation of tax authorities with a view to transparency of financial flows, as a means of enhancing international security" raised the issue of tax collection in Russia and the experience of such activity in relation to the SCO. He stressed that in 2018 in Russia will operate "VAT ASK-2" in full force - a system that is based on an electronic system of tax data. It is expected that it will contribute to the greatest transparency of the payments.

During discussing the outcome document of the Forum, A. Kiryanov noted the need for the harmonization of tax law within the framework of the SCO. He drew a parallel with the EU experience in this area, where all the Member States will be charged the total tax.

He also pointed to some tensions within the EAEU, citing as an example of cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan on excise taxes. In conclusion, A. Kiryanov said that improved security is not possible without a transparent financial policy within the framework of the SCO.

Evseev Vladimir Valerjevich, Deputy Director of the CIS Institute, Head of the Department of Eurasian integration and development of the SCO, in the report "The first results of the SCO summit in Tashkent," drew attention to the high level of representation at the summit. Thus, the SCO observer states India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and Belarus were represented at the highest level. This is evidenced, in particular, by the high international authority of the Organization.

At the same time, at the SCO summit in Tashkent Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was not present, which may mean reducing Tehran's interest in this organization. In this case, Iran may not get into the first wave of enlargement of the SCO, which will begin after a sufficiently long period of reformatting the Organization, up to five or seven years.

Sumskij Victor Vladimirovich, Director of the ASEAN Centre at MGIMO (University) of the MFA of the Russian Federation, in his report "Fundamentals and perspectives of cooperation of EAEU, SCO and ASEAN," said that in December 2015 the President of Russia V. Putin proposed the initiative on the conjugation through the EAEU, SCO, ASEAN. Then the expert points of view on this initiative were differentiated from skeptical to negative. And for many this initiative seemed offhand on the part of V. Putin.

However, in May 2015 the conjugation of two projects: the EAEU and "The Silk Road Economic Belt" was initiated and an agreement on establishing a free trade area between the EAEC and Vietnam was signed.

Earlier, a memorandum on cooperation between the SCO and ASEAN was signed, and in 2015 there was a meeting of General Secretaries of these organizations. In 2016 a number of major international forums, including ASEAN-Russia Summit was held, which took place on 19-20 May in Sochi. All this contributed to the expansion of the integration zone of Eurasia.

V. Sumskij concluded that Russia is quite difficult to fit into someone else's international structure, so the need to minimize the damage in the first place: own integration formats (regional, sub-regional) are needed. Secondly, Russia must undertake reintegration post-Soviet space to the format of Project "Big Eurasia", proposed by V. Putin. Thirdly, the Russian Federation is obliged to withstand the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic partnerships.

In conclusion, he suggested that any strategy is subject to certain dynamics. And this strategy is shown in the consistency of Russia as a state, which intelligently arranges the policy on the east and west directions.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Burljai Ian Anastasevich, deputy chairman of the Association of Russian diplomats, in the report "The interaction of the SCO member states in order to combat international terrorism in social networks," emphasized the idea of the SCO cohesion in the fight against international terrorism. This, in his opinion, ideology plays the leading role.

I. Burljai noted that the terrorists are trying to recruit and brainwash the younger generation through social networks. Therefore, the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation the Coordinating Council to combat terrorism was established. However, this is not enough an appropriate center within the SCO RATS needs to be created.

Zamaraeva Natalya Alekseevna, sector senior research of Pakistan Institute of Oriental Studies, in the report "Pakistan - a full member of the SCO: perspectives and challenges" noted the following.

The priorities of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan the strategic cooperation with China is positioned in the first place, trade turnout with which amounts up to $19 billion. On the second place is regional cooperation with Central Asian countries, and only in third place is the development of cooperation with the SCO.

From her point of view, all-round development of relations between Russia and Pakistan is needed, as among Islamabad's foreign policy priorities Russia takes only ninth place. At the same time, bilateral trade is $500 mln., giving place to EU, US, ASEAN and South Asian countries.

N. Zamaraeva marked benefits in the SCO for Islamabad. Firstly, Pakistan is a country poor in natural resources and also in constant political crisis. At the same time the global GDP of Pakistan is only 3%. In this connection, it is expedient in the Russo-Pakistani relations to develop defense and energy cooperation (for example, the construction of a gas pipeline in Pakistan).

Secondly, in Pakistan internal political tensions between democratic and military elite units is saved. But this initiative for integration processes, including the SCO, it came from the military, which further stimulated the inter-parliamentary cooperation of Pakistan with other states.

Then she touched the issues of regional cooperation:

- Afghan factor (the Durand Line border, which Pakistan recognizes, but does not recognize Afghanistan), as well as the presence in Pakistan of 4.5 million Afghan refugees, which in the future may fall to the north of Afghanistan;

- Indian factor; now no fighting near the Indo-Pakistan border is going on, but that does not mean that the controversy has disappeared (they have just moved to a fundamentally different level).

N. Zamaraeva noted that Pakistan is lobbying the interests of China as a strategic partner and counteracts any transit of Indian goods to Iran and Afghanistan. In conclusion, it is recommended that a clear distinction between the SCO and the goal of the Chinese project "One belt One way".

Nessar Omar, director of the Center for the Study of Modern Afghanistan, in the report "Prospects for Afghanistan in the SCO activity," noted the impact on the situation in the country of both global and regional factors. At the same time the external factor in Afghanistan, namely the confrontation between foreign forces, prevails over domestic issues. This is one of the reasons why this country is an obstacle in the development of the Eurasian processes.

Dunayeva Elena Viktorovna, senior researcher of Iranian sector of the Institute of Oriental Studies in the report "Iran and SCO: perspectives of cooperation" noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), acts as a stabilizing factor in the Middle East. In addition, Iran has a military and transport and logistics potential, as well as the experience of the struggle against Islamic radicalism.

Since 2005, Iran has an observer status in the SCO. This allowed, for example, talking about the possibility of the creation of the SCO Energy Club.

E. Dunayeva touched cooperation between Iran and the EAEU. In particular, it is proposed to set up joint logistics companies, as well as to develop cooperation in the humanitarian sphere (including in the field of secular and religious education, and tourism). The civilization Indo-Iranian factor was highlighted in the fight against radical Islam.

Separately, Iran's accession problem in the SCO as a full member was considered. The following reasons hinder this process:

a) anti-Americanism, that is, the internal political struggle of the Western and Islamic directions in foreign policy against the backdrop of the upcoming 2017 presidential elections in Iran;

b) contacts with Islamic organizations in Central Asia, but Iran never supported radical movements;

c) the Iran's position on joining the SCO by India and Pakistan (some offense of Tehran and assessment of the joining the Organization as part of the loss of the sovereignty).

In turn, Sazhin Vladimir Igorevich, senior scientific researcher of the Institute of Oriental Studies of Iran, noted several fundamentally important points for Iran:

- Iran - is "a cat that walks by itself";

- a pragmatic approach, expressed, for example, to support Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh;

- the SCO - to Iran it is a political and diplomatic "umbrella";

- Iran in connection with the process of lifting of sanctions is becoming an economic Mecca, especially for European business, but for the country's economic recovery $500 billion are needed in the form of investments;

- the national psychology of the Iranians has two reasons: the historical background and Shiite imperial exceptionalism.

Areshev Andrej Grigorjevich, expert at Strategic Culture Foundation, Chief Editor of the website "Scientific Society of Caucasian affairs" in his report "Integration in the framework of the "Big Eurasia": on the paths to overcome differences", focuses on the fight against international terrorism:

a) preparation of children suicide bombers and the action of a destructive cult of death in the Middle East;

b) the information war of the Islamic state in the media, the Internet, hosting servers, which are located in other countries.

Bakhrevskiĭ Evgeniy Vladislavovich, deputy director of the Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage by D.S. Likhachev in the report "The image of the Russian cultural policy" paid attention to the cultural integration in the Eurasian space, as well as attempts to answer the question: what is Russia as a country, a civilization? And he pointed out that there are no clear guidelines on this issue. The image of Russia exists in several forms: a Christian, "Russian world", Russia as a real Europe, Russia - Red (left) project. In this connection it is necessary to define the notion of what a Russian civilization is considered.

Seleznev Igor Alexandrovich, Deputy Director of the Joint Center of the North Caucasus social and socio-political studies, Institute for Socio-Political Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences in the report "Prospects for expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization", noted that the original partnership of Russia and China on the issue of Central Asia transformed into the contours of a new world order by association with South Asia.

Boikova Elena Vladimirovna, a senior researcher at the Department of Korea and Mongolia Institute of Oriental Studies in the report "Environmental Security in Eurasia in the context of the expansion of multilateral cooperation" indicated that Mongolia is interested in economic cooperation in the SCO. But at the same time it strives to maintain neutrality and not to engage in full-fledged membership.

In addition, Mongolia has positioned itself as a European country (associate membership with the EU). As a result, in July 2016 in Ulaanbaatar Forum of PACE will be held.

At the conclusion of the round table it was agreed that by July 1, 2016 all participants will present their proposals to the Final Document of the International Forum in Sochi.