SCO Summit: Multipolar World is Already a Reality

Belarus becomes the tenth member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Chinese President Xi Jinping: “SCO countries must guarantee security from the threat posed by the Cold War mentality”

Vladimir Putin e Xi Jinping al summit della SCO

The central event of the intense program at the 24th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Astana (Kazakhstan) was the accession of Belarus to this authoritative international organization on July 4, thus making it the tenth full member state.

Belarus has participated in the work of the Organization as an observer since 2015, together with Mongolia and Afghanistan. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Mechanism was established in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to “strengthen cooperation in the fields of security, counter-terrorism, economy, and energy.” In the following years, India, Pakistan, and Iran joined the international organization. Another 14 countries participate in the Organization’s activities as “dialogue partners”: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Maldives, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.

During the plenary session, the SCO heads of state, in the presence of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, signed the Astana Declaration, in which they condemned the dangerous division of the world into blocs and called for the creation of a multipolar world. A package of program documents was approved, including the plan for international cooperation in cyber security, the resolution on the establishment of the SCO Investors Association, a document on cooperation and development of ecotourism, an energy cooperation strategy extended until 2030, the program for jointly combating terrorist threats, which envisages the establishment of an international center for rapid response in case of terrorist threats and a center in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, to combat drug trafficking.

In his remarks at the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization must ensure security in the face of the real threat stemming from the Cold War mentality.” President Xi called on the organization’s leaders to adhere to “a common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable” concept of security, address relevant challenges in the sector through dialogue, and “respond to profound changes in the international environment with a win-win approach for all to firmly build world peace and universal security.”

From Xi Jinping’s perspective, “SCO stands on the proper side of history, equality, and justice and is of great significance to the world.” The Chinese President noted that the world is facing “increasingly rapid changes, never witnessed in a century” and that “human society is once again at a historical crossroads.” Xi Jinping expressed satisfaction with the development of the SCO, saying the foundations of cooperation “have become more solid, since the great SCO family” has expanded its membership in three continents.

In this complex international context, the countries that make up the Organization must defend the right to development in the face of the concrete risk of “building small yards and high walls.” In addition, President Xi Jinping emphasized that “SCO countries should promote inclusiveness and mutual benefit, scientific and technological innovation, ensure the stability and continuity of production and supply chains, stimulate the internal engines of the regional economy, and promote the implementation of common development goals.”

Finally, Xi Jinping urged the SCO countries to jointly resist external interference and firmly support each other. Xi Jinping called on member countries to “resolve internal differences in a spirit of harmony” and “firmly hold the fate of our countries, as well as peace and development of the region and the rest of the world in our hands.”

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the multipolar world is already a reality. In his speech at the SCO meeting, Putin said that changes in the world order are occurring rapidly and irreversibly. “We are convinced,” the Russian president said, “that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, together with the BRICS, is one of the main pillars of the new emerging world order. It is these associations that advance the processes of global development and the establishment of true multipolarity.” The Russian leader added that “there is a growing number of states that support a just world order and are ready to vigorously defend their legitimate rights and protect traditional values.”

For this reason, Putin said, the security of SCO member states remains a priority in the work of the Organization. “Of course, one of the priorities in the SCO’s activities has been and remains ensuring the security of member states along the perimeter of external borders,” the Russian President said, recalling that “it has been decided to transform the SCO regional anti-terrorist structure into a universal center that will respond to the entire spectrum of security threats.” The Russian president added that the SCO member states will soon adopt a cooperation program to help fight separatism and extremism.

On the economy and trade, Putin said the close economic ties in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are paying clear dividends for all participants. “The facts speak for themselves: the average GDP growth of our member countries last year was above 5%, industrial production was at 4.5%, while the inflation rate was only 2.4%,” said Putin, according to whom “Russia’s trade turnover with the SCO countries increased by a quarter.”

The Organization’s summit became the occasion for numerous bilateral meetings. During the meeting between Putin and Xi Jinping, the Chinese president said that “amid the turbulence and changes that have emerged in the global landscape, China and Russia should make efforts to safeguard their legitimate interests, protect the norms governing international relations, and promote the spirit of lasting friendship.”

During Putin’s conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it was announced that the two countries want to increase trade turnover to 100 billion dollars per year. According to Erdogan, “at the moment, the trade turnover is equal to 55 billion dollars.” In addition, the Turkish leader said that his country hopes for the early completion of the Russian-Turkish project to build the Akkuyu NPP. Erdogan invited Putin to visit Turkey. The Russian head of state accepted the invitation and noted that relations between Moscow and Ankara are constantly developing “despite the difficulties observed in the world.”

Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev later discussed the North-South International Transport Corridor project, which would connect Russia with ports in southern Iran. “I would like to mention our plans in the field of infrastructure, and, of course, the well-known North-South corridor is now a priority,” Putin said at the start of talks with Aliyev. In turn, the Azerbaijani president said that he was ready to expand the infrastructure within the project. Putin praised the development of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan: “I would like to draw attention to the fact that on the key issues of our relations, namely trade and economic cooperation, they are developing positively: more than 4 billion dollars of trade turnover and about 4.3 to 4.5 billion direct Russian investments in the economy of Azerbaijan,” Putin said, adding that “in the first half of 2024, trade turnover increased by 13 percent.”