SCO Astana summit: Historic decisions, new prospects

SCO Secretary-General and Kazakhstan Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to China held a joint news conference

On 12 June 2017, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and Kazakhstan Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to China Shukhrat Nuryshev held a joint news conference devoted to the results of the SCO's landmark annual event: the SCO summit that took place on 8-9 June 2017 in Astana.

"The summit has become a truly historic event that has opened a new page in the organisation's history," the SCO Secretary-General said, opening the news conference. He drew attention to the fact that the SCO Heads of State Council Meeting and the preceding events within the framework of the working programme firmly demonstrated the organisation's unity and the general commitment of the member states to serious, wide-ranging, long-term work in all areas of cooperation.

The Secretary-General pointed out that throughout Kazakhstan's entire presidency thorough preparations had been made for the summit.

"All member states have taken an active part in this work under Kazakhstan's presidency at all levels and in all SCO cooperation mechanisms. President Nursultan Nazarbayev personally paid close attention to preparations for the summit," Mr Alimov said.

"The SCO Heads of State Council's decisions to grant India and Pakistan full SCO membership are crucial. The SCO's principle of openness, which was laid down in its foundational document, the SCO Charter, 15 years ago, has been reaffirmed in practice," he said. The audience applauded the Indian and Pakistani representatives who were present in the hall.

The Secretary-General paid special attention to security issues, stressing that they will remain a priority for the SCO. "The Convention on Countering Extremism, which was coordinated by our heads of state, has become a collective response of the SCO member states to the growing threat hanging over humankind," he said.

Economic development, economic, trade and cultural cooperation in the SCO also received much prominence at the summit, Mr Alimov said.

"The summit underscored the SCO's historical development in the six-nation format and opened a new page in its history in the eight-nation format. A lot of credit for that should go to Kazakhstan as the presiding party, all member states and SCO standing bodies. The SCO presidency has been passed to China. The next summit will take place in June 2018," Mr Alimov said, concluding his remarks.

Ambassador Nuryshev presented Kazakhstan's assessment of the SCO summit's results. He also congratulated the Indian and Pakistani ambassadors on acquiring the status of SCO member states and expressed hope that the admission of the two new countries would not only expand the SCO's geographical scope but also significantly strengthen the SCO and the "Shanghai spirit."

He briefed the participants on the main results of Kazakhstan's SCO presidency in 2016-2017.

"During the year, our efforts were focused on the main priority goals as established by President Nazarbayev, including strengthening regional security, fostering economic cooperation, developing the transit potential, and deepening cultural and humanitarian ties," he said.

Mr Nuryshev expressed gratitude to the SCO Secretary-General, the Secretariat, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and the ambassadors and diplomats of SCO countries for their close cooperation and dedicated efforts during Kazakhstan's presidency for the good of the SCO and the member nations.

The news conference was attended by ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary of SCO member states, observer states and dialogue partners: Vijay Gokhale (India), Andrei Denisov (Russia), Parviz Davlatzoda (Tajikistan), Kirill Rudy (Belarus), Damba Gankhuyag (Mongolia), Khek Cai Mealy (Cambodia), and Karunasena Kodituwakku (Sri Lanka); charges d'affaires of Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan; permanent representatives of SCO member states to the Secretariat; and high-level representatives and diplomats of the embassies of Pakistan, Turkey and Nepal. The news conference was also attended by Turkmenistan Ambassador Chinar Rustamova.

The event received wide coverage from the media outlets of SCO member states accredited in China.