SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov addressing the OSCE forum: “The SCO is not and will never be a military-political alliance; its activities are not aimed against any state or political association.”

SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov addressing the OSCE forum

On 10 July 2019, an SCO delegation led by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov took part in the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) to strengthen the synergy among international regional organisations and the OSCE in Central Asia.

As the main speaker at the forum, Mr Norov presented a report on developing versatile SCO cooperation in Central Asia to the heads of the delegations from the OSCE countries.

He said the SCO is committed to promoting cooperation in building international relations of a new type based on the principles and norms of international law, primarily justice, equality, mutually beneficial cooperation and the shaping of a common vision on creating a community of common destiny for humanity.

"From the very start of its activities, the SCO has been called on to play a major role in ensuring peace and stability in Central Asia, which is the cornerstone of the SCO. The development of a regional security system is a current goal in today's conditions of shaping a new system for international relations," Mr Norov said.

He emphasised that today the Central Asian countries are facing a new threat: various militant groups may be ready to continue terrorist and extremist activities against the SCO countries as they return from the hot spots of the Middle East.

Developing this thesis, Mr Norov informed the participants about the activities of the SCO countries on the joint resistance to terrorism, separatism and extremism in the framework of the Regional Ant-Terrorist Structure (RATS), about regular

Peace Mission antiterrorist exercises, the conferences of the defence ministers, as well as the adopted documents and established working mechanisms in this area.

The Secretary-General emphasised that "the SCO is not and will never be a military-political alliance; its activities are not aimed against any state or political association. The struggle against the terrorist threat requires the development and consolidation of mechanisms aimed at eliminating this threat."

In addition, Mr Norov talked about the SCO's efforts to counter the drug threat, promote youth contacts, develop trade, economic, transport, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, and enhance the SCO's status in the international arena.

Mr Norov talked about the SCO's willingness to cooperate with the OSCE, the European Union and other international European organisations in Central Asia on countering today's threats and challenges and developing transport corridors. In this context, he noted the positive dynamics in the development of SCO-OSCE relations. "Five SCO member states are OSCE participants; both organisations have similar tasks and goals, which confirms the importance of closer cooperation between them," Mr Norov emphasised.

He pointed out the results of the SCO summit that took place in Bishkek on 13-14 June 2019. "In the summit's final declaration the leaders of the SCO countries expressed support for the efforts of the Central Asian states to deepen mutually beneficial interstate relations. They welcomed the adoption of the 2018 UN General Assembly resolution on promoting regional and international cooperation to ensure peace, stability and sustainable development in Central Asia, and the holding of a second consultative meeting of the heads of state of the Central Asian countries in Tashkent in 2019," Mr Norov said.

He described the priorities of Russia's presidency of the SCO in 2019-2020.

The forum participants watched a presentation of SCO activities. They were offered information booklets on this subject and saw a video on the practical anti-drug efforts of the SCO member states.

The SCO Secretary-General thanked the Tajik delegation that chaired the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) for its high quality effort in preparing and holding the event.

Reports at the forum were also given by OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger and EU Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian.

Mr Greminger talked about OSCE activities to ensure security in Central Asia in cooperation with international and regional organisations, including the SCO. He noted that he had the pleasure of discussing this issue with SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov last March. "One specific initiative that we are now thinking about is a regional anti-drug conference, which may be organised jointly with the SCO and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime," he said.

Mr Burian described the EU programmes for Central Asia and the adopted new EU strategy on Central Asia. In implementing the new strategy the EU will strive to cooperate with other international and regional organisations with a view to reaching the common goals of the EU and its strategy.

Other speakers included heads of delegations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Uzbekistan, and also Slovakia, the United States, and Switzerland. Having assessed the main reports positively, they offered their own proposals on further cooperation for Central Asia's development and prosperity.

The Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) was established in 1992 by decision of the OSCE Helsinki summit.

The forum is an independent OSCE body that is authorised to discuss issues of ensuring military security and stability in the OSCE space and adopt relevant politically binding decisions.

From March to September 2019 the FSC is being chaired by the Republic of Tajikistan.