Summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Bishkek

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The global security system is in crisis, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he addressed the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Bishkek on 14 June.

“Today it is obvious that the international system, which has been handling security tasks more or less efficiently after World War II, is unfortunately falling apart at the seams. Strategic agreements are being dismantled in the military sphere; the world is slipping into an arms race. Safeguards against a large-scale military conflict are disappearing before our eyes. The reasons are well-known,” the head of state said. “The language of confrontation is prevalent in politics. Economy and trade are used as an instrument of hostile pressure. Universal rules of the game are replaced by anarchy. Even personal privacy is in jeopardy with the development of the internet.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, back in the day the countries had high hopes for globalization believing that it would save the world from all misfortunes and tribulations. “However, right now there is a reasonable impression that we have lost much more than we gained from globalization. It goes without a doubt that modern threats are common to all countries. Individual states, even the most powerful and influential ones like China, Russia, India, will not have enough resources to counteract these threats,” the Belarusian leader said.

In this regard, he emphasized that it is impossible to ensure peace on a regional and global scale without close cooperation in multilateral organizations and concerted measures. “In these conditions, we believe that international institutions and mechanisms, which were created after the end of the bipolar world and which are successfully adapting to the new geopolitical situation, play an increasingly important role. Thanks to its political influence and economic potential, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is quite ripe for making a more active and persistent contribution to building the international policy on the principles of peace, mutual respect and equality,” the head of state is convinced. The organization can and, what is more important, should (and people expect that) help neutralize security threats, shape points of contact and interaction in the economy.”

On Belarus’ proposals

First of all, the President suggested considering new forms of the SCO’s work in the international arena. For example, the SCO could adopt joint statements on burning issues of the UN agenda.

“Second, in the face of the increasing deficit of trust, it is crucial that commitment to a multilateral dialogue on security should prevail over confrontation in today’s international relations. The Russian President spoke about it as well,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He recalled that Belarus is pushing for the restart of the Helsinki process with a view to adjusting the existing world order to new geopolitical realities and unconventional challenges. “It is bewildering that at this difficult time, country leaders, including heads of big states, are shying away from high-level discussions of at least this global issue, this global challenge. These matters could be discussed by the world’s superpowers, including from the Asian continent, at least within the framework of the OSCE,” the Belarusian leader said.

“As to the Helsinki process [restart of the multilateral security dialogue], this discussion is already underway at the expert level, including on the Minsk platform. The idea is shared by many politicians, civil society leaders and diplomats. There are many people in the world who want to ‘build bridges’ in order to ease tensions,” the head of state said.

According to the President, the only viable alternative is to find a way to make various formats of maintaining international security work together. “We are convinced that this approach will help overcome disagreements in our common space – Euro-Atlantic region and Eurasia,” he said.

“Third. We need to use the unifying nature of international organizations to consolidate their efforts in promoting global security. In this regard it would be useful to arrange an informal meeting of the heads of the UN, the OSCE, the SCO, the CIS, Nato and the CSTO (probably, some other organizations as well) to discuss the backlog of issues related to stability in the world. It is clear that this will not happen overnight, but persistence will yield results,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

In his words, in order to achieve this, the parties need to address economic issues that fuel terrorism, crime, illegal migration and other challenges.

“This is the next important issue. We talk a lot about the interaction of various integration processes – the Eurasian Economic Union, the Belt and Road initiative, ACEAN and others. This is right. Belarus actively supports the ideas aimed at creating a single Eurasian economic space. However, in our view, we should step up effort to implement joint projects in areas that are important for our states: food security, transport and logistics, energy, innovative technology. All SCO members share this opinion. It is important that the growing interdependence should be a factor of success rather than a barrier,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the presidents of the SCO member states adopted a number of documents at the summit to strengthen the fight against terrorism and crime. “We fully support these decisions and are ready for practical interaction in the region of the SCO responsibility taking into account the Belarusian experience and achievements,” he said.

The President proposed to utilize the capacities of the international training center at the Internal Affairs Ministry of Belarus which has a reputation of an authoritative educational institution at the UN level.

Closer collaboration in ensuring information security and combating cybercrime is of critical importance. These issues are relevant to all, Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “No other crime is growing in scale as rapidly as this one,” the Belarusian leader stated.

For example in 2017 Belarus registered around 3,000 cyber-related crimes. In 2018 the number grew to 5,000 and in January-April 2019 almost 3,000. “Belarus is ready to share its experience and expertise and to participate actively in the implementation of the relevant SCO concept which was discussed at the meeting,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Summing up, he said that cooperation between China and Russia can serve as an example of effective cooperation in the SCO area. “Following some bewildering actions on the part of certain major states against China, a wonderful way out was found literally in a year and a half. The trade between these states grew substantially and exceeded $100 billion. Today they are aiming for $200 billion within three to four years. Just like this. Without huff and puff. Nobody can ignore this,” he noted.

In this connection Aleksandr Lukashenko asked the world powers, including those represented in the SCO, not to ignore small and medium-sized countries and engage them more actively in trade and economic cooperation. “It would be a good contribution to what we already have,” the head of state said.

“We believe that by working within the framework of the SCO, our countries can make a tremendous contribution to the harmonization of cooperation on the continent and consolidation of all progressive forces,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the SCO summit.

Before the extended-participation meeting of the Heads of State Council the Belarus President discussed the international agenda with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The sides praised a high level of bilateral political and economic relations. In particular, they discussed trade and economic cooperation and 3-4 key projects which will eventually help advance this interaction. In this context, ministers of foreign affairs were instructed to work out such projects and engage the intergovernmental commission in the process. Aleksandr Lukashenko invited Narendra Modi to visit Belarus, and the invitation was accepted. The exact dates will be determined through diplomatic channels.

There was a meeting with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. It was mentioned that the previous agreements have not been implemented yet. In particular, the sides planned to bolster cooperation in the assembly of equipment, agricultural technologies (processing of farm produce), defense industries, particularly, supplies, modernization and repair. A decision was made to resume dialogue in these fields.

After the official part of the summit Aleksandr Lukashenko met with China President Xi Jinping and Russia President Vladimir Putin.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin briefly discussed the current state of affairs in cooperation. The Belarusian leader invited his Russian counterpart to attend the 2nd European Games. The presidents discussed the participation of Russian athletes in them. The sides also reaffirmed a previous agreement to meet and discuss the prospects of integration.

Using the opportunity, Aleksandr Lukashenko wished a happy belated National Day to Russia President Vladimir Putin.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and Xi Jinping discussed an international forum which will take place at the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park Great Stone in July 2019. They also focused on investment projects.

The leaders of Belarus and China exchanged presents. Aleksandr Lukashenko presented a bronze stork sculpture to his Chinese counterpart. This graceful bird is a frequent image in the Belarusian and Chinese art. It is a symbol of wisdom and longevity, a messenger of happiness and wellbeing. A stork is also a symbol of peace and harmony. Another traditional gift is a basket with Belarusian foodstuffs.

During the meeting with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev it was mentioned that the sides are implementing many projects. The heads of state agreed to step up corresponding efforts. These and other issues will be in the spotlight during the forthcoming visit of the Uzbekistani leader to Belarus.

Apart from that, Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also discussed a bilateral agenda with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. “We have established very good relations with Pakistan. These relations have their roots in the cooperation between the USSR and Pakistan,” the Belarusian leader remarked.

He stressed that Belarus and Pakistan have a number of joint projects, but the process of economic and trade cooperation has slowed down a bit due to certain reasons. “Both Belarus and Pakistan have a huge interest in cooperation. We can sell many things to each other. We are ready to share technologies and set up joint ventures on the territory of Pakistan in accordance with our agreements,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian President invited the prime minister of Pakistan to pay a visit to Belarus at any convenient time. “You will like it, I promise,” he said.

Imran Khan, in turn, agreed that the process of rapprochement and enhancement of relations in the economic and other fields has slowed down to a certain extent or has even been frozen. “Large-scale transformations are going on in our country. We are fully rethinking the process of state administration, we are making the country more open. Pakistan is changing, and I hope that these changes will help us restore our relations, make them more productive and solid,” he said.