Bakhtier Khakimov: SCO is an ideal regional platform for international cooperation
Russia's Special Presidential Envoy to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Director of the Asian and Pacific Cooperation Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Bakhtier Khakimov gave a news conference at Rossiya Segodnya's International Multimedia Press Centre on February 13.
He spoke about the priorities of Russia's SCO Presidency in 2014-2015, the organisation's primary goals with respect to ensuring regional security, and the upcoming SCO and BRICS summits to be held in Ufa, Bashkortostan, on July 8-10, 2015.
Mr. Khakimov noted that the leaders of the SCO countries will adopt the SCO Development Strategy towards 2025 and the Ufa Declaration at the upcoming Summit. Furthermore, the heads of states will issue a statement on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of victory over fascism and militarism in World War II. There are also plans to sign an intergovernmental agreement on border cooperation. In addition, heads of anti-drug agencies are to prepare a statement on drug trafficking.
Speaking about the possible accession of new members to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and upgrading the status of current SCO members, Mr. Khakimov said that the conditions for this are in place: "We are working to make sure that the first step in this direction, taken last year in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, will be followed at this year's Summit in Ufa." The SCO has so far received membership applications from Pakistan, Iran and India, while Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Syria are seeking observer status.
According to the diplomat, several related issues need to be addressed before taking such an important decision. One of them concerns the ability to meet certain obligations, the most important of which is the commitment to fully comply with the 27 conditions set forth in applicable SCO documents. "The procedure provided in these documents is specific, straightforward and clear, but does not specify deadlines," he said. "How fast an applicant country completes the process depends on that country. It can take a month or two, or it can take a year." The ambassador is confident that the applicant countries' membership will benefit not only the SCO, but the countries themselves as well.
Mr. Khakimov also believes that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation can become a platform for discussing the international effort to rebuild Afghanistan. "We are convinced that the SCO, which includes Afghanistan's neighbours, is the best regional platform for international cooperation to promote national reconciliation, harmony and the economic reconstruction of that country," he said. The ambassador pointed out that while the SCO engages in promoting security, it doesn't aspire to any military functions. Cooperation between the defence and security agencies of SCO countries is primarily designed to establish anti-terrorism cooperation between them. "There are no plans for making the SCO a military bloc or a purely economic union," he said.
Mr. Khakimov also said that a joint meeting of the SCO and BRICS leaders is scheduled to be held in Ufa. "Since the SCO Summit is held back to back with the BRICS Summit, it will make the forthcoming event even more important," the ambassador said.
He expressed hope that Russia's SCO Presidency will further strengthen cooperation between member states, observer states and SCO dialogue partners and, most importantly, that it "will confirm that the growing international role of the SCO is not just a declaration, but the truth backed up by actual achievements."