SCO Secretary-General Dmitry Mezentsev discusses the new Ufa airport terminal and the 7th SCO Transport Ministers Meeting

Question: The Ufa airport international terminal opened yesterday. Do you think the city is ready for the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit?

Dmitry Mezentsev: The new airport terminal in Ufa was presented to the SCO transport ministers.

In his welcoming remarks to the guests of the 7th SCO Transport Ministers Meeting, Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan Rustem Khamitov noted that the renovation of the airport was conducted jointly with the federal government and will significantly increase passenger traffic and open up new opportunities for business, interaction and tourism.

According to Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, the airport can receive any type of aircraft and meets the highest international standards.

Major investments have been made to improve the airport's infrastructure, such as upgrading the runway, building new taxiways, and the terminal. The airport is ready to receive participants of the SCO Heads of State Council Meeting and the BRICS Summit, and other important events that will take place in Ufa on 8-10 July 2015.

Importantly, the leaders of the republic have plans for further development. The upcoming international events will help better position Bashkortostan in Russia and abroad.

Question: The 7th SCO Transport Ministers Meeting was held today. Which countries of the SCO family took part in it? What issues were discussed?

Dmitry Mezentsev: Importantly, the meeting was attended by ministers from the SCO founding nations - China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. The Uzbek delegation was headed by First Deputy Chair of the Board of the National Railway. SCO observer states also actively participated in the meeting, including the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and a high-ranking delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Mongolian delegation was led by the Minister of Roads and Transport. SCO dialogue partners were also represented, including experts from the Republic of Turkey, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Republic of Sri Lanka and Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Belarus.

It is worth noting that the meeting was held at a unique time for the expansion of transport cooperation. An intergovernmental agreement on improving lorry transport within the SCO was signed at the Dushanbe Summit in September 2014. This professionally drafted document has, in fact, opened up new possibilities. It provides not only for building transport corridors in the SCO region. By signing this agreement, the founding nations demonstrated their desire, willingness and ability to merge national economic interests and the interests of the organisation. Plans are in place to build global China-Western Europe transport corridors. This agreement has been in the works for years with the support of UNESCAP, which confirms that the SCO has enormous potential for expanding trade and economic cooperation.

The participants also discussed the measures that the parties are required to take in order to implement the agreement within the agreed time frame. Proposals were submitted to merge their national transport infrastructure and network development plans, which will provide a new level of interaction.

The heads of delegations outlined proposals regarding the possibility of merging the sectoral plans with the plans to create the Great Silk Road economic belt. This concept was proposed by PRC President Xi Jinping. We believe that the huge amount of preparatory work that has yet to be completed by experts will be one of the critical elements underlying the joint work of the stakeholders, and will take into account the proposals that already exist in the national economic policies of the SCO member states. It is important to bear in mind that we cannot allow for unreasonable and counterproductive competition while implementing such a global project. The Chinese side is also forming financial institutions, especially the Silk Road Fund, which will be an important factor in moving this project forward.

The heads of the delegations presented their analysis of the practical interaction of transport agencies and the proposals, which must also be taken into account during the final stage of work on the draft SCO Development Strategy towards 2025. It is expected that this document will be approved by the heads of state at the Ufa Summit.