SCO Secretary-General attends SCO Blue Book presentation

SCO Secretary-General attends SCO Blue Book presentation

On 16 December 2019, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov attended the presentation of the SCO Blue Book, published by the China Institute of International Studies of the PRC's Foreign Ministry, and the Shijie Zhishi Publishing House. Other attendees included the Chinese Government's Special Envoy on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui, President of the China Institute of International Studies Qi Zhenhong, Director of the Shijie Zhishi Publishing House Zhang Shaohong, Director of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Sun Zhuangzhi, as well as ambassadors, diplomats from SCO member states, observers and dialogue partners, scholars, political analysts and experts from leading research centres and representatives of Chinese and foreign media outlets.

In his remarks, the SCO Secretary-General thanked the leadership of the China Institute of International Studies and Shijie Zhishi Publishing House for their high-quality efforts to compile and publish the book which is eagerly awaited by experts, scholars, politicians and diplomats in SCO member states, observer countries and dialogue partners. He also noted the achievements of the Institute's leadership and entire staff in efficiently and impeccably organising the latest SCO Forum whose participants tried to answer highly important questions linked with the Organisation's evolution and provided important recommendations regarding its long-term development.

According to Vladimir Norov, the Blue Book will become an important reference point in ensuring a high standard of preparations for the SCO's 2020 Bishkek Forum. The SCO Secretariat and their Kyrgyz colleagues will use the Book in order to draft a detailed agenda for future meetings between scholars, experts and political analysts in China and other countries within the SCO Family.

Vladimir Norov also informed event participants about the SCO's activities in the period since the 14th SCO Forum. He noted the purposeful significance of the Bishkek Forum and focused on practical aspects of the Organisation's work in the areas of politics, security, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation. The SCO Secretary-General also noted the SCO's increasingly greater regional and global role in fighting international terrorism and extremism, and drug and arms trafficking. "The Organisation's voice resounds loudly during the discussion of matters of international information security and the use of information and communications technologies for peaceful and constructive purposes," he added.

While discussing security matters, Vladimir Norov drew the attention of experts to the deteriorating situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and underscored the intention of the eight SCO member states to impart a new lease of life to the work of the Contact Group with Afghanistan. The implementation of the roadmap is seen as particularly topical nowadays when an incipient opportunity is emerging for

launching peaceful dialogue and withdrawing US and NATO forces from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. In this connection, the SCO Secretary-General urged Chinese and foreign experts to promote sustained dialogue on Afghan matters.

Vladimir Norov linked the SCO's continued dynamic economic development with the approval of the Programme for the Development of Inter-Regional Cooperation and the Regulations of the Forum of the Heads of Regions of SCO Member States. The task of analysing matters in order to expand the SCO's transport and communications capabilities could play a highly important part in this respect.

He also drew the attention of event participants to the resolutions of the 2 November 2019 SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) Meeting in Tashkent whose participants, he said, had responded well to the above-mentioned challenges by approving the new Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation of SCO Member States until 2035. "The SCO boasts real capabilities for becoming an economic centre in the short-term perspective, and the consolidated efforts of member states will make a substantial contribution to determining the development vector of the global financial-economic and trade system," Vladimir Norov noted.

The forging of a positive perception of the SCO among citizens of SCO member states and the building of a positive image of the Organisation in the world and the region is one of the SCO's important tasks in the area of the information/media support of its activities, the SCO Secretary-General noted. This is aimed at facilitating the rapprochement of member-states and their peoples and at strengthening neighbourliness and mutual trust among them. For this purpose, the SCO Secretariat holds regular interviews, briefings and news conferences, as well as meetings with Chinese and foreign experts. It is also establishing a network of research centres dealing with SCO-related matters.

In conclusion, Vladimir Norov invited researchers and political analysts to step up expert dialogue and contacts between research institutions.

Synopsis of the SCO Blue Book, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the New Era: Situation and Tasks (2018-2019)

The book was prepared by the China Centre for SCO Studies of the China Institute of International Studies, affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, and printed by the Shijie Zhishi Chubangshe Publishing House which specialises in historical, political, foreign policy and diplomatic subjects. The Institute's President and Director of the Centre for SCO Studies, Qi Zhenghua, is the book's Editor-in-Chief. Deng Hao, Executive Secretary at the Centre for SCO Studies, edited the book.

The book consists mainly of reports by participants in the April 2019 SCO Forum that took place at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing. They are prefaced by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, who analyses the significance of the SCO

Forum as a highly important platform for exchanging experience between research centres of SCO member states.

The book's contents include analytical materials by scholars, experts and diplomats studying the SCO's economic, political, cultural and humanitarian activities, as well as those in the area of security. The book provides an insight into the Organisation's regional and global status and explores the subject of security within the context of the fight against the Three Evils, and drug and arms trafficking. The book covers various aspects of the Afghan settlement and the SCO's long-term role in advancing the peace process.

Researchers attach great importance to coordinating the economic strategies of the SCO member states. They perceive this as a foundation for expediting the pace of socioeconomic development and for bridging gaps in living standards in the SCO region.

Experts also focus on deepening cooperation between member states, observer countries and dialogue partners. They view cultural cooperation and artistic exchanges and their harmonisation as promising.