Greater Eurasia in a complex world: SCO replenished with Iran
The 23rd meeting of the leaders of Greater Eurasia was the first in importance in the list of changes taking place.
The SCO unites countries representing 42.4% of the world's population and occupying 26.7% of the Earth's land. The total GDP at purchasing power parity of these countries is 36% of the world. They account for 49% of global wheat grain production and 54% of the rice crop. The total reserves of oil and natural gas from the world exceed 22.6% and 43.8%, respectively. The share in the production of aluminum exceeds 69%, in the world gold production - 30%, the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports.
Russia's trade with member states grew by 37% in 2022, reaching a record $263 billion, and in January - April of this year added another 35%. Moscow advocates increasing cooperation between the countries of the association in the investment and banking and financial spheres, in industry, energy, transport and logistics, agriculture, communications, digitalization and high technologies.
The meeting, as reported by Western media, provided the Kremlin with a podium to demonstrate that the people of Russia are united, and its leadership keeps the situation under control. The summit made it possible for Moscow and Beijing to expand the composition of the SCO by accepting Tehran and the expected inclusion of Minsk.
"We see the SCO not as an extended neighborhood, but as a big family. Security, economic development, interconnectedness, unity, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as environmental protection are pillars of our SCO vision, "Narendra Modi said in his opening remarks, urging colleagues to realize their new unity beyond geographical proximity.
The theme of the Summit chaired by India is "Towards a SECURE SCO" (Towards a SECURE SCO). The authorship of the abbreviation SECURE SOC belongs to Prime Minister Modi, who proposed it at the SCO summit in 2018. Speaking about the role of the SCO, the Indian prime minister called the organization "an important platform for peace, prosperity and development throughout the Eurasian region".
India, as the organizers of the summit note, during the chairmanship worked to strengthen ties that glorify historical and civilizational relations between peoples. During the preparation, 134 meetings and events were held, including 14 meetings at the ministerial level.
The SCO has officially announced its entry into the unification of Iran. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi expressed gratitude for his admission to the SCO, which, he said, "is a growing organization with huge potential and occupies a leading role in the development of political and economic cooperation between member countries. This is essential for Iran, "Raisi said.
According to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Iran's accession will help the implementation of regional infrastructure projects, including the Chabahar transport corridor. Belarus became closer to the organization, a memorandum of obligations to join was signed.
Turkmenistan participated as a guest. The event was also attended by the heads of the SCO Secretariat and the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure. The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the United Nations, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, and the Commonwealth of Independent States were invited.
Summit amid change
The summit was held for the second time against the backdrop of the Special Military Operation. As Russian President Vladimir Putin said, speaking at a meeting of the Council of Heads of State - members of the SCO, for a long time a project was being implemented by external forces near the borders of Russia to create a hostile state from neighboring Ukraine - "anti-Russia."
"Russia feels the growing conflict potential in the world," said Russian President Vladimir Putin. For eight years, Ukraine was pumped up with weapons, condoned aggression against the civilian population of Donbass and in every possible way indulged in the imposition of neo-Nazi ideology. And all this in order to jeopardize the security of Russia, to restrain its development.
Vladimir Putin emphasized that Ukrainian troops are not successful in any direction. Speaking about the attempted armed rebellion, Putin noted that the whole society clearly demonstrated cohesion and high responsibility for the fate of the Fatherland and thanked colleagues from the SCO countries who expressed support for the actions of the Russian leadership to protect the constitutional system, life and security of citizens.
On the day of the Summit, it became known that China had postponed a planned trip to Beijing by the head of the European Union's foreign policy service Josep Borrell, and the day before it announced that it would restrict the export of rare earth gallium and Germany used in the production of chips from August 1. Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that unilateral sanctions, protectionism - are unacceptable.
"The SCO countries should independently develop a foreign policy based on the common and long-term interests of our region. It is necessary to remain vigilant to attempts from outside to incite a new Cold War and provoke a block confrontation in our region, categorically oppose attempts to interfere from outside and inspire "color revolutions" under any pretext, "Xi said in his address during the summit.
The growing bloc of "non-Western powers"
According to the author of the article in the magazine "InoSMI", the abbreviation SECURE SOC has incorporated the principles of the "strengthening bloc of non-Western powers." More and more countries, the article notes, seek multilateral cooperation outside forums dominated by the United States and its allies. But that's not entirely true. In the final declaration of the previous SCO Summit in Samarkand, the participating countries, among other things, confirmed the non-direction of the SCO against other states and international organizations.
The SCO was founded in 2001 in Shanghai. This is a permanent intergovernmental international organization created by the leaders of Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. On June 9, 2017, the leaders of the SCO member states signed a decision to accept India and Pakistan, and on July 4, the procedure for Iran to join it was completed. The process of receiving Belarus can be completed in 2024.
During the videoconference, Putin called on the SCO to work together to combat the dominance of the West, spoke about strengthening strategic partnership within the organization, noted consolidated approaches to topical international issues. The SCO borders are expanding, Afghanistan and Mongolia, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, the states of Transcaucasia and South Asia are showing interest in the organization's work.
Xi Jinping stressed that it is necessary to focus on pragmatic cooperation that can ensure economic recovery.
At the same time, according to the Chinese leader, the intervention of external forces that inspire color revolutions should be suppressed. On the Afghan issue, he supported Modi, pointing out that extremists should not be allowed to re-pose a threat to neighboring states. Participants called it important to create a government there from representatives of all ethnic, religious and political groups.
The conversation was direct, no one hid the contradictions. Some relations (India-China, Pakistan-India) have remained tense for decades. India did not sign the SCO Economic Development Strategy for the period until 2030, The Wire portal reported, due to the fact that the document contains many references to the initiatives of the PRC.
India also did not support China's Belt and Road Initiative.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan supported the initiative. Transport corridors laid out through this initiative improve the transport accessibility of the interior of Pakistan and Central Asian countries, provide them with access to the ocean.
New integrated approaches
Following the summit, the New Delhi Declaration of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as 13 other signed documents, were adopted. In the Declaration, the SCO countries agreed to approve "new comprehensive approaches to promoting more equitable and effective international cooperation".
Next in line for inclusion in the SCO agenda may be issues of maintaining security in the participating states and along the perimeter of the organization's external borders. Modi called for the SCO to advocate reforming international institutions, including the UN.
The head of China proposed more use of national currencies in mutual trade and promised to increase assistance to other states. Russia is expanding the use of national currencies in mutual settlements: more than 80% of transactions with the PRC occur in rubles and yuan. The share of the Russian currency in export operations with all SCO countries in 2022 exceeded 40% percent.
The SCO plays an increasingly significant role in international affairs, makes a real contribution to maintaining peace and stability, ensuring sustainable economic growth of the participating states, strengthening ties between peoples.
From 2022 to 2023, India was the chairman in the SCO. For the period from 2023 to 2024, this post will go to Kazakhstan.