The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is celebrating its 10th-year anniversary. The regional structure of security, approached by the West with a certain cautiousness, has not brought about any hostility (as had been predicted by oracles of politicians) between the West and the East. The SCO has taken up a unique niche, being simultaneously an effective mechanism in fighting manifestations of three evils - terrorism, extremism and separatism - and, meanwhile, implementing integration initiatives in the social-economic context.
The anniversary SCO summit that took place on June 15, 2011, in the Kazakh capital, Astana, holding SCO chairmanship, drew experts’ high appraisals, distinguishing Kazakhstan, in recent years, for a more important role not only in the scope of regional, but also global, politics. It is sufficient to remember Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) last year. The chairmanship has been historic in the sense that it has shattered existing stereotypes. It was the first time in the history of the organization that the OSCE was chaired by an ex-Soviet country, and, no less important, representing the Turkic world.
In light of the European crisis in multiculturalism, it was a gulp of fresh air. The leading role of Kazakhstan has also revealed itself effectively in the SCO. In anticipation of the summit, a number of preparatory meetings took place, during which the agenda of the coming summit was discussed, as well as some results of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship.
Being headed by the slogan “10 years on the way to security and cooperation,” Kazakhstan was able to energize the activity of the SCO, as over one hundred collective events, aimed at strengthening collaboration of the member-states of the organization in the particular direction of cooperation, have been arranged.
Thus, for example, the SCO has quite competently addressed the political and economic crisis in Kyrgyzstan. Through its Ministries of Emergency Situations, SCO countries have provided humanitarian assistance to Kyrgyzstan.
Afghanistan has not been left unheeded, either. The lingering tension and hostility in the country remains as one of the main sources of danger to safety and stability. According to experts, a considerable part of all world opiates is being produced in that country, which automatically casts its neighboring countries into a risk zone. Therefore, special attention is being addressed to regional countries’ collaboration and fight against drug trafficking, as SCO member-countries work together in tackling the issue. If to speak only of Kazakhstan, in its territory in 2010, over 240 citizens of SCO member-states have been brought into custody for drug transit and drug-related crimes.
The drug trade, besides the lethal effect of the substances on a human being, has long been a powerful source in financing international terrorism. Therefore, the SCO pays big attention to tackling the problem. Specifically, at the last SCO summit, the SCO member-states’ Anti-Drug Strategy for 2011-2016, as well as its implementation program, was adopted. What is important is that the SCO maintains close cooperation in reaching the goals with other international and regional organizations. For example, Kazakhstan can be credited for initiating and adopting the resolution “On cooperation between the United Nations (UN) and the SCO” by the UN General Assembly in December 2010.
Kazakhstan is glad that cooperation in the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure and the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center, which is heading the fight against distribution of illegal drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, is successfully ongoing. Kazakhstan sees activization of contacts with the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes as well as with the UN International Committee on Drug Control.
If speaking of other Afghan threats – terrorism and extremism – the SCO leads fully logical politics in that facet – not interfering with Afghanistan’s domestic affairs, it provides security on the perimeter of the SCO member-states borders with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. If terrorist gangs penetrate to the zone that the SCO is in charge of security, they will be met with an according welcome, as the military mastership of the SCO member-countries in warding off threats is being improved continuously. Last year, the routine anti-terrorist military training “Peaceful Mission 2010” took place.
As was said before, the SCO is a multifunctional structure that does not restrict itself to cooperation in the field of security; in the framework of the organization, integration in many directions is being implemented. Therefore, quite recently, with the start of consultations of the ministers of health care and agriculture, new mechanisms of cooperation have been introduced. Also, in the land-mark cooperation among the SCO member-states, SCO University, operating on the network of existing universities in the SCO countries, has been opened.
Kazakhstan is convinced that, in the future, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has to pay equal attention to the development of the three main directions of its activity in the field of security and the economic and humanitarian cooperation. Among those initiatives to be implemented in the near future is the opening of a special account or, otherwise speaking, establishment of a development fund for financing SCO’s project activities.
In the light of the global nature of cataclysms, and, specifically, their tragic aftermaths in Japan, the SCO member-states suggest to take a fresh look at the Kazakh initiative to create in Astana, the Kazakh capital, an SCO Extreme Emergencies Prevention and Aftermath Dealing Center.
These and many others issues were deliberated at the summit which, according to the SCO member-countries, has become a significant and future-defining event in the history of the development of the organization.
Provided by the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Lithuania
Prepared by Linas Jegelevicius