Ladies and gentlemen,
Regular meetings in the UN-SCO format have become a good and very relevant tradition. They promote bilateral cooperation for peace, security and stability. This cooperation has been steadily developed since the SCO was granted observer status at the United Nations in 2004.
Today’s joint event is dedicated to the connections between terrorism and organised crime, and to the use of proceeds from drug trafficking to finance terrorist activities. The urgency of this topic is all the more obvious because a significant part of these huge profits generated by drug trafficking around the world feeds terrorism.
Since it was established in 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has asserted itself as a universal interstate association with activities covering all spheres, including politics, security, economics and humanitarian ties. Today, as mentioned earlier, the SCO is regarded as a credible international organisation, and a recognised and reliable partner. The SCO space, comprising 18 member states, observer states and dialogue partners, is home to almost half of the global population, and accounts for about a quarter of the world’s GDP.
The powerful political, defence, economic, cultural and civilisational potential of the SCO space and its impressive geography, stretching from Southeast Asia to Europe, offers excellent prospects for furthering meaningful cooperation with the United Nations. This understanding was confirmed at a UN Security Council meeting in September, held as part of Russia’s UNSC presidency, on cooperation between the UN and regional organisations. It was attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The SCO is guided in its undertakings by a strong commitment to the fundamental principles and international norms held in the UN Charter. Through their joint efforts, the SCO member states seek to facilitate the emergence of a global architecture for reliable security and sustainable development.
Proactively promoting this approach is among the priorities of Russia’s SCO presidency in 2019-2020, as defined by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
Russia pays particular attention to further consolidating the positions of the SCO member states within the UN and other international organisations. This event proves this. We believe in the importance of enhancing a constructive political dialogue, finding effective solutions to the issues of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and arms control, countering terrorism and extremism and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, as well as strengthening mutual trust and cooperation among peoples.
Russia intends to hold over 90 events as part of its SCO presidency. Some of them have already taken place. In September, Moscow hosted a meeting on the prevention of an arms race in outer space resulting in the decision to draft a statement to this effect by the leaders of the SCO member states. Russia’s proposal to join efforts in promoting, within the UN, resolutions related, among other things, to countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes, was supported at the November consultations on international information security. Tomorrow, experts from the SCO member states will meet in Moscow to discuss cooperation in biological security.
A key area of the SCO’s activities is to respond effectively to growing security challenges and threats. These efforts are based on a substantial legal framework with dedicated conventions, agreements, strategies and programmes. I would like to emphasise that a number of documents are open for accession by interested states, such as the Convention on Countering Extremism. We invite you to study them carefully.
The SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), established in 2002, is successfully operating in Tashkent to support effective interaction in the fight against terrorism and extremism, including coordination between related agencies in the member states.
The growing symbiosis of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and organised cross-border crime, as well as the need to ensure information security, warrants an integrated approach to neutralising these threats. In this regard, Russia took the initiative to modernise the existing mechanisms of interaction and transform RATS into a universal Centre to counter the challenges and security threats of the SCO member states. This Russian initiative is now being discussed at the organisation.
We attach particular importance to deepening cooperation with the UN, primarily with its Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Office on Drugs and Crime. The next step in this direction will be the meeting of the Paris Pact Initiative Expert Working Group on Precursors, which will be held in the next few days in Shanghai.
Objectively, the situation in Afghanistan remains a special focus of the SCO. We regard the restoration of peace in that country as a decisive factor in strengthening security across the entire SCO space.
A recent ISIS attack on a border post in Tajikistan has once again confirmed that the terrorist threat in the region is real. The profits from drug trafficking remain one of the sources fueling terrorist activity. I will cite only one figure now. According to a report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko, in 2018, 6,400 tonnes of opium were produced in Afghanistan, of which only 8 percent was seized. These figures speak for themselves.
Russia, like other SCO member states, fully supports the Afghan people’s desire for peace and economic development. The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group at the deputy foreign minister level has resumed the work on our initiative, with the active assistance of all our partners. We have already had two meetings and adopted a roadmap providing for joint actions to develop cooperation in security, trade, the economy and cultural and humanitarian relations.
Rigorous support is being given to promoting an inclusive peace process consisting of and led by the Afghans in the interest of a political settlement relying on the coordinating role of the UN. In this context, I must highlight the Inter-Afghan Dialogue meetings held in Moscow in February and May 2019, as well as a round of the tripartite consultations between special representatives from Russia, China and the United States; that round was held in Moscow in October and also included Pakistan.
The SCO consistently advocates the improvement of the global governance system, the consolidation of the WTO-based international trade system and consistent implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It considers unilateral protectionist measures and sanctions unacceptable.
We are convinced that the eradication of poverty and the creation of conditions for decent life play the key role in curbing extremist ideas and the spread of terrorist ideology. This is why Russia and its SCO partners are jointly seeking a synergy of national strategy potentials and multilateral integration projects. Steadily promoting the idea of a Greater Eurasian Partnership, we are working to form a large Eurasian space of open, mutually beneficial and equitable cooperation with the participation of countries from the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union and ASEAN, which is open to our EU colleagues.
During our presidency we intend to promote cooperation both in traditional areas, such as trade, investment, industry, agriculture, transport and energy and new areas like high technology, innovations, digitisation of the economy that includes remote and rural territories, and interregional contacts. We will initiate new steps to implement a new version of the SCO programme for multilateral trade and economic cooperation, which was approved in November.
The development of humanitarian cooperation holds a special place. Much attention is given to the implementation by the SCO Youth Council of the provisions of the Joint Address of the SCO Heads of State for the Youth, aimed at keeping young people away from extremist activities.
Celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Victory over Nazism in World War II will be a major political event next year. It will make it possible to draw the attention of the international community, primarily the younger generation, to the need to carefully preserve historical memory, prevent the falsification of history and counter extremist and terrorist ideology. We are convinced that this meets the common interests of all of humanity.
Progress is impossible without mutual trust, respect and concerted effort. We are committed to close, open and equitable cooperation with all interested states and international organisations, primarily the UN. We will enhance our joint efforts in line with the 2010 UN-SCO Joint Declaration and other documents signed by the SCO Secretariat and the UN’s specialised agencies.
Thank you for your attention.