Russia is not alone at all: the Second Forum of Eurasian Integration was held in Sochi

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Russia is not alone at all: the Second Forum of Eurasian Integration was held in Sochi 20.04.2018 15:01

On April 17-18, 2018, the Second Sochi Eurasian Integration Forum was held at the main Black Sea resort of the country. The topic of the forum was discussion of prospects for development and strengthening of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is the main integration platform for the countries of "Пкуфеук Eurasia". The forum was organized by the Institute of CIS countries, and the main sponsors are the Presidential Grants Fund and Gazprom.


On the course and outcome of the forum it is followed in the material of the Federal News Agency.


From Shanghai to Murmansk


Guests of the Second Sochi Forum were more than 250 delegates from 15 countries. Such geography of delegates is by no means accidental: not only the representatives of the eight SCO member states came to the forum, but also visitors from those countries that so far have the status of observers or candidates to observer countries in the organization. However, in the Forum discussion this difference in the status of delegates was not felt at all - unlike globally bureaucratized and hierarchically constructed structures of many international organizations, the SCO has always been the "union of equals." This inevitably affected the topics and the course of the forum's discussion.

Forum agenda was largely copied by the agenda of the SCO itself. The plenary sessions and sections of the forum raised the themes of strengthening international stability and security both in the space of the member countries of the organization and in the world as a whole, as well as combating terrorism, extremism, international crime and drug trafficking, developing economic and energy cooperation, , cultural and religious spheres.

One of the central moments in the discussion was the issue of "war and peace", which reflected the difficult realities of the current moment in world history. During the discussion, it was felt that the structure of the SCO is not a classical military bloc, but rather an organization of collective security. Because of this, military issues inevitably intertwined with issues of economics, energy, culture, religion and politics, showing the complexity and interdependence of today's world.

To the credit of the participants it can be noted that even the most acute issues of bilateral relations (for example, the long-standing Indo-Pakistani conflict or the watchful neutrality between China and Mongolia) were resolved within the framework of a civilized discussion. In a live dialogue, the parties exchanged their arguments, not allowing themselves to make incorrect statements about the opponent or rolling into empty polemics. In each of the disputed moments there was a basis for mutual understanding, which, I would like to believe, will sooner or later come to the level of the current political agenda of the countries affected by the conflicts.


A way out of the vicious circle


The attendance at the forum of representatives of three "heavyweights" of Eurasia - Russia, China and India - set the foundation for the main discussion. Issues of economics, energy and related issues of international security were present in almost all discussions.

The current problems of the countries of "Greater Eurasia" turned out to be similar to the mythical snake-uroboros, biting itself by the tail. The key to stability and prosperity in the region was constantly called economic growth and the associated gradual solution of a mass of vital problems - energy development, access to food, housing, medicine, education and health. The main obstacle to economic growth in most cases was internal political and international instability, which blocked access to investments, technologies and resources for various countries. The sources of instability in many respects lay in the same deplorable state of the economy and the living standards of many SCO member countries. At the same time, possible economic growth automatically solved issues of security and social instability (including terrorism, extremism, crime and drug trafficking), but in itself could not arise from scratch.

The response to this kind of vicious circle of "unsafe poverty" was the initiatives of Russia and China. Our country proposed the creation of a network of trans-Eurasian gas pipelines and oil pipelines. In particular, in the discussions of the forum, both the existing projects (the Force of Siberia, Yamal-LNG) and prospective projects - for example, the TAPI gas pipeline, which should link Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to a single network, were constantly discussed. On the Chinese side, the main initiative was the one-way-one-way program, in which the Chinese side undertook the task of creating a huge long transit corridor across the whole of Eurasia, linking the interests of transit countries and China within the framework of a mutually beneficial mega-project that can be compared to the role of Silk Road.

Of course, critical remarks addressed to geopolitical giants from small countries were also heard at the forum. The position of Russia, China and India, based on a joint economic and political dominance in the "big Eurasia", may seem unpleasant to someone, but it provides peace and mutual understanding between the "corners of the triangle" and ensures stability and prosperity on the world's largest continent.


The future of the SCO


One of the key issues raised by the forum was the further development of ideas and areas of cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. On the one hand, the existing format of cooperation seems to suit quite well the states that are members of the SCO, or they are considering the issue of accession to it. On the other hand, the option of an "informal interest club" will inevitably blur the organization's initial attitudes, which is already felt in connection with the growing number of SCO members.

The inevitable contradictions arising from the different interests of more than three billion people require effective mechanisms for their resolution, which are clearly lacking today's "editorial office" of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Most likely, the way of development of the organization to some extent lies in the direction of the formation of international conciliation and governance structures that will assume certain functions voluntarily delegated by the SCO member states. In this case, of course, the organization will become more like an economic or military bloc, but this way of development was considered by the delegates as practically the only possible one.

To this scenario, the SCO pushes several world processes at once, the most significant of which are the universal "rollback" of the last wave of globalization and the collapse of the existing model of a unipolar "American world". However, of course, such decisions on the delegation of the sovereignty of their countries in favor of a prospective but international organization, in essence, should be made by the current politicians. The forum of experts held in Sochi only re-highlighted this problem for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.