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17 Sep 2021

Lukashenko taking part in SCO summit

Lukashenko taking part in SCO summit

DUSHANBE, 17 September (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is taking part in the meeting of the Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on 17 September, BelTA has learned.

The SCO summit will take stock of the progress made by the organization over the past 20 years and highlight the state and prospects of multilateral cooperation. More than 40 documents have been prepared for consideration at the summit.

The heads of state are expected to discuss further steps to overcome the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and other issues of regional and international cooperation. The participants of the meeting are also expected to decide on the launch of the procedure to admit Iran as a full member of the SCO and grant the status of a dialogue partner to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

This year the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary. The summit is taking  place in the Navruz Palace. This is one of the world’s largest palaces built in 2014. It has become the crown jewel of modern Dushanbe, and Tajikistan intends to initiate the inclusion of the complex in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The main attraction of the Navruz Palace (which means “new day” in Tajik) are four stately halls which host high-level meetings, conferences and banquets. Two of them - Didor and Zarandud - are hosting the SCO leaders today. Tonnes of semi-precious stones and precious wood were used for decorating the halls. The chandelier decorating the Zarandud Hall is one of the biggest in the world. It weighs 6.7 tonnes and consists of 1,600 bulbs.

What is SCO?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent intergovernmental international organization. Its creation was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The original five members, with the exclusion of Uzbekistan, were previously members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on 26 April 1996 and based on the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions (Shanghai, 1996) and the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions (Moscow, 1997).

Eight countries are currently members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: in addition to its founders, India and Pakistan joined the organization in 2017. Belarus received an observer status in the SCO in 2015. Three other countries - Afghanistan, Iran, and Mongolia - have the same status. The SCO also has six dialogue partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka.

The growth of economies of the SCO countries, their military potential (there are four nuclear powers among its members) and successes in the international arena demonstrate the organization’s successful development. The League of Arab States is showing great interest in its work.

What does the SCO do?

The SCO prioritizes security and peacekeeping in the region. The SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure plays an important role in this. It has established close contacts with specialized structures of the UN, OSCE, Interpol, CSTO, and the CIS Antiterrorist Center.

The SCO develops political, economic and humanitarian cooperation. The countries attach increasing importance to the development of economic cooperation with a focus on digitalization. The organization has signed an agreement on the development of transport communication. The countries intend to create digital barrier-free transport corridors and systems for tracking the transit of goods by cars and trains using navigation seals. Such a “green corridor” will significantly reduce the time it takes to go through administrative procedures and increase the volume of transport services.

In 2018, a food security program was adopted. The states are working on the development of modern agricultural clusters and pollution-free smart agriculture. Long-term prospects include the creation of a free trade zone, the formation of a development fund and bank, and the implementation of multilateral projects.

Why does Belarus participate in the SCO?

Cooperation within the SCO opens up great prospects not only in the political but also in the trade and economic sector. An observer status enables Belarus to participate in meetings of the SCO Heads of Government Council, meetings of SCO foreign economic and foreign trade ministers, conferences on trade and economic cooperation, events of the SCO non-governmental structures: the Business Council and the Interbank Association.

In particular, Belarus is interested in improving the common transport space in the SCO region, international transport, as well as the coordinated development of highways. This should facilitate the country's participation in multi-modal transportation, improve transport infrastructure and unlock transit potential.

Belarus is also developing cooperation within the SCO in the military sector and through antiterrorist structures. Belarus also interacts in many areas of cultural and humanitarian cooperation and also in the parliamentary sphere.

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