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The Role of the SCO in a Changing World
6 September 2022
10:00—11:30
KEY CONCLUSIONS
The importance of the SCO’s role is growing for member countries and the whole world

The SCO’s importance is growing. This is especially important given the fact that this year has become very important in terms of changes in the geopolitics, not only in the Eurasian space, but also in the world as a whole — Kirill Babaev, Director, Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IFES RAS).

The SCO has a huge potential for political, economic, cultural, scientific and other interaction. Unfortunately, the potential is far from being fully realized, but its existence is beyond doubt. Secondly, the SCO is a centre of attraction for many states, in the Middle East, North Africa, and the north-western Asia. That is because the principles and the nature of the relationship that have been established over 20 years of its existence ... are deeply in demand and very attractive to many countries... Now, the SCO space covers at least a quarter of the earth's land surface (if we do not include Antarctica), and the total population is already approaching 50% of the world's population — Grigory Logvinov, Deputy Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

Over the past 20 years since the SCO has been established, it has been developing steadily and has become a very influential organization not only in Central Asia, but also in South Asia, Western Asia — Sun Zhuangzhi, Director, Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In my opinion, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization today is the most powerful regional international organization. It has grown and is still growing actively. And the Shanghai spirit of equality of partners, the principle of consensus, as well as mutual respect for the position of each of the states are a great example for the whole world — Denis Kravchenko, Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Economic Policy.

SCO promotes the idea of a multipolar world

We are moving towards a multipolar world. This transformation is now going through such an acute stage, the world is going through serious trials. But the prospects are quite clear: the changing world is a future multipolar world. And in this regard, the SCO can serve as a kind of symbol of this multipolarity... The main goal of the SCO is to strengthen mutual trust, friendship and good-neighborly relations between states — Kirill Barsky, Acting Head of the Department of Diplomacy, Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

India sees that there are a lot of crises and transitions in the world. No country can deal with them on its own. India believes in a multipolar world, a world in which different countries solve problems together. From India's point of view, the SCO is extremely important in this sense. India believes that not only the world, but also Asia should be multipolar. India has played and intends to play an active role in this regard in the 21st century — Kumar Rajan, Associate Professor, Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies, School of International Studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

We see the tendency in the world towards a multipolar world, and this is a priority for us — Denis Kravchenko, Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Economic Policy.

“Green agenda” remains relevant for the SCO

We need to form a stable mechanism for cooperation in key areas and create conditions for jointly overcoming the difficulties of the member states. Attention should be paid to health, energy, food, environmental protection, green development, poverty reduction, scientific and technological innovation and other areas where there is an opportunity for cooperation. Despite the growing security challenges, (the SCO countries – ed.) should not forego the benefits of economic cooperation — Sun Zhuangzhi, Director, Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The green financing and green economy agenda remains in force, despite the fact that it seems to have come from the West, Western partners dominate there in terms of carbon quotas, green taxonomies. The SCO IBO (Interbank Association – ed.) found out that by the end of the year, the China Development Bank and its counterpart from Pakistan, Habib Bank, are concluding a special agreement on the procedure for admitting Pakistani firms to the Chinese domestic market in order to provide green financing. It is an interesting step that has no analogues here in the Eurasian space. We agreed that if the final document is signed, this document will be shared with us — Sergey Storchak, Senior Banker, VEB.RF.

ISSUES
The work of the SCO is affected by changes taking place in the world

Indeed, we are now living in conditions of very sharp, tectonic, historical changes. And although the great Confucius believed that it was a great misfortune to live in an era of change, but such is our fate, which does not depend on us. Naturally, what is happening in the world inevitably forces us to rethink the role and place of the organization in international life. It is clear that the SCO will not be able to stay away from the confrontational processes that are happening in the world… Unfortunately, now our political opponents are building their actions according to an absolutely antagonistic logic and philosophy — Grigory Logvinov, Deputy Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The SCO continues to search for new forms of cooperation in the field of security amid a backdrop of multiplying challenges and threats. The countries of Central Asia come up with very valuable initiatives in this area. For example, Dushanbe proposes to create an anti-drug centre, Bishkek proposes a centre for combating cross-border crime, Nur-Sultan – an information security centre. And Russia proposes to open the SCO universal centre for countering threats and challenges. The algorithm of subsequent actions will, of course, be up to the SCO member states. It is obvious however that cooperation in the field of security will remain a priority for the SCO in the long term — Rashid Alimov, Professor, Taihe Institute; Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, (2016–2018).

The system of international financial relations, which was formed in the post-war period, adjusted during the first and second oil shocks, which served globalization over the past 40 years, is being destroyed. This world is changing as a result of the well-known actions of our partners in the global economy... Some part of this global financial system needs to be rebuilt. Most likely, it will not be possible to rebuild all of it. But what we call the Eurasian space, the Eurasian partnership or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the big Eurasian partnership – here, apparently, these new mechanisms will appear, since there is a great demand for them to start functioning here. Maybe not a parallel system, partly linked to the existing international monetary and financial system, but still working to suit the economies of this region. Especially given that these economies are beginning to dominate the world — Sergey Storchak, Senior Banker, VEB.RF.

The SCO faces a number of important economic issues

Economic cooperation is moving to the forefront more and more. Here we have things to do, because the topic is very important. Virtually all SCO member states demand that economic issues play a more important role. And most importantly, the effect of this cooperation should be greater... Integration projects should play a key role on the economic agenda in our Eurasian space. For the Russian Federation, for the members of the Eurasian Economic Union, this is, first of all, the EAEU — Kirill Barsky, Acting Head of the Department of Diplomacy, Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Creating a common security space and a common economic community – these two goals are in fact the main tasks that the organization faces in our rapidly changing world — Kirill Babaev, Director, Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IFES RAS).

We see an interest in the economic sphere. The countries of Central Asia, which have no access to the sea, are especially interested. For the past five years, the region has been living in anticipation of a breakthrough in the economic sphere... Indeed, the economic wheel of the SCO needs a wide track. Trade between the SCO countries still accounts for only 10% of the total foreign trade turnover of the SCO countries, and it amounts, by the way, to USD 7.5 trillion — Rashid Alimov, Professor, Taihe Institute; Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, (2016–2018).

The SCO is a product of political cooperation or cooperation on the security track, an organization of security and mutual respect. In this sense, economic cooperation and cooperation in the financial sector are lagging elements of this interaction. The IBO was created in order to push this interaction — Sergey Storchak, Senior Banker, VEB.RF.

SOLUTIONS
The SCO should not be drawn into geopolitical conflicts

I don’t think that the organization itself should be directly involved in the escalating confrontation between Russia and China, on the one hand, and the collective West, on the other — Grigory Logvinov, Deputy Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

Today, the SCO should stay away from confrontational scenarios that are often imposed by the policy of artificial containment and pressure that the United States and Western countries profess — Kirill Babaev, Director, Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IFES RAS).

The SCO will remain a bulwark of stability and cooperation

It is obvious that we need to strive to form a consolidated position of the SCO on key issues of our time, which would be expressed not only in general political statements and declarations, but in a solidarity vote at various international forums, primarily in the UN, as well as in the promotion of draft resolutions… The main thing is to create an atmosphere of genuine good-neighborly relations, mutual respect, security and common prosperity in the SCO space, so that it becomes an oasis of stability and an assembly point for the entire large Eurasian region — Grigory Logvinov, Deputy Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

To show that the ideals of friendship, cooperation, mutual trust, mutual respect are still alive and have a future. Russia sees the SCO as a unique opportunity to strengthen security and cooperation, both in our region and more broadly — Kirill Barsky, Acting Head of the Department of Diplomacy, Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

As a new mechanism for regional cooperation, the SCO should play a more important role in maintaining regional stability and solving various security and development problems... The SCO was primarily created to maintain the security of China, Russia and the countries of Central Asia — Sun Zhuangzhi, Director, Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.