Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev at the SCO National Security Council Secretaries Meeting.

Nikolai Patrushev: An expanded SCO will help strengthen regional security

Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev at the SCO National Security Council Secretaries Meeting.

On April 13-14, 2015, Moscow hosted the 10th National Security Council Secretaries Meeting. Participants in the event held a detailed exchange of opinions on issues concerning international and regional security and charted a long-term path for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) development, said Nikolai Patrushev, Security Council Secretary of the Russian Federation.

The participants focused on the situation in Afghanistan, which, according to Mr. Patrushev, is a key aspect of ensuring security in Central Asia.

While meeting with his SCO colleagues, Mr. Patrushev said the International Security Assistance Force that was deployed in Afghanistan in 2001 had failed to accomplish its objectives. At the same time, Afghan drug output has increased more than 40-fold. "Unfortunately, Washington's disastrous policy has not only failed to resolve the problem, it has considerably aggravated current problems in Afghanistan," Mr. Patrushev noted. "The international military contingent that was deployed in Afghanistan has failed to accomplish its main objectives, specifically, the destruction of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban movement. Moreover, radicals are feeling confident in several Afghan provinces," he said. Mr. Patrushev added that bridgeheads had been established in northern Afghanistan, and that extremists were using them to infiltrate neighbouring Central Asian countries.

Mr. Patrushev believes that Afghanistan should be rebuilt under the supervision of its citizens, with the United Nations coordinating the process. Participants in the meeting voiced support for a national reconciliation process in Afghanistan and the country's peaceful reconstruction and revival.

Mr. Patrushev also focused on the spread of terrorism in the Middle East. He noted that a serious threat to regional and international security currently emanates from Iraq, Libya, and Syria because the Islamic State and other radical groups control large territories in these countries. Moreover, the future of these countries remains bleak. Mr. Patrushev believes that efforts to combat the Islamic State can hardly be called effective. In his opinion, "this evil has no clear territorial boundaries, and it cannot be defeated inside one country."

While discussing the issue of ensuring intra-SCO security, Mr. Patrushev noted that the organisation's expansion would facilitate this process. "We have discussed the examination of membership applications from India, Iran, and Pakistan, as well as those on granting observer status to Belarus and dialogue partner status to Azerbaijan and Armenia. SCO leaders will be informed about our opinion", Mr. Patrushev stressed. He added that Russia's SCO Presidency is "based on the need to further the authority of the organisation in international affairs and to strengthen it as a full-fledged international organisation."

Mr. Patrushev further noted that Russia considered it very important that the leaders of SCO member states and observer states, as well as Belarus, take part in the upcoming celebrations being held in Moscow to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory over the Nazis in World War II. "This event will have great significance from the standpoint of our unity against the backdrop of attempts to glorify Nazism and to rewrite history which, unfortunately, are taking place in the modern world," he said.

The participants of the meeting discussed a number of issues linked to preparations for the upcoming SCO Heads of State Council Meeting, including the coordination of the SCO Development Strategy towards 2025, he said. "The heads of delegations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan voiced substantive and interesting proposals. These proposals were reflected in the meeting's concluding documents that we signed," Mr. Patrushev noted.