Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, March 29th, 2020

SCO: Afghan Important Cooperation Partner

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SCO: Afghan Important Cooperation Partner

Exclusive for Daily Outlook Afghanistan

The 12th Council Meeting of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be held in Beijing from June 6 to 7. Leaders from SCO member states and observer countries, as well as guests of presidency and heads of relevant international organizations will attend the meeting upon invitation. H.E. Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan will be in attendance as the guest of the presidency.

Beijing Summit is a critical meeting to inherit the past and usher in the future for the SCO. On this occasion, the SCO member states plan to sign some critical documents on the cooperations in politics, security, economy and culture, etc. on the sidelines of the Summit, which will be of great significance to the SCO future development.

'!. The basics of the SCO
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an inter-governmental organization founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The SCO member states possess a territory of around 30 million 189 thousand square kilometers, which makes up three fifths of the Eurasian continent, and have a population of 1.5 billion, which makes up a quarter of the global population. The economic aggregate and trade volume of the SCO member states account for one ninth and one tenth respectively in the world. Besides, the SCO has four observers of Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran and India, along with two dialogue partners of Belarus and Sri Lanka.

The tenets of the SCO are of strengthening mutual confidence and good-neighbourly relations among the member countries; promoting effective cooperation in politics, trade and economy, science and technology, culture and education as well as other fields; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; moving towards the establishment of a new international political and economic order with democracy and fairness.

The SCO internally pursues the Spirit of Shanghai featured by mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for the cultural diversity and common development, and externally in accordance with the principles of non-alignment, non-targeting anyone and openness.The Heads of State Council is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year to make decisions and give instructions on all critical issues of the SCO.

a!.The Achievements of the SCO in the Past Decade
After eleven-year efforts and buildup, the SCO has grown into a mature and efficient organization and made remarkable achievements in various areas of politics, security, economy and external exchanges, etc., contributing a lot to regional peace, stability and development as an indispensable regional cooperation organization in Eurasia. Politically, mutual trust among member states has been increasingly enhanced. Since the founding of SCO, member states have unswervingly supported each other on core issues concerning independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Moreover, they have coordinated closely and effectively to safeguard their common interests on international and regional affairs. On the security front, regional peace and stability have been effectively safeguarded.

The member states signed the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism at the very first SCO summit, which clearly identifies the fight against the"three forces" as the major task of the SCO. Since then, the member states have signed a number of other security cooperation documents, such as the SCO Convention against Terrorism, the Anti-drugs Cooperation Agreement and the Agreement on Joint Fight against Crimes. Thus the spectrum of SCO security cooperation has been gradually expanded and enriched.

In economy, interim progress has been made in regional cooperation. The SCO member states signed the Program of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation in September 2003. All parties have actively engaged in substantial cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, finance, energy, transportation, telecommunications and agriculture, etc., worked together to withstand the financial crisis and address the challenges of globalization. In external relations, the international status and influence of the SCO has kept rising.

The purposes and principles of the SCO have been widely endorsed by the international community. More and more countries and international organizations have shown their desires to foster cooperative relationship with the SCO. Thanks to its own efforts, the SCO has been regarded by the UN as an essential regional organization for security issue in the region.

b!. Beijing Summit and China's Position
In Beijing Summit, the SCO member states will exchange views on the current international and regional situation, discuss how to further improve friendly cooperation in the new circumstances and map out an overall plan for the future development of the SCO.

There are three main items on the agenda of the summit. First, to discuss measures for enhancing friendly cooperation under the SCO framework, and then formulate a development strategy for the next decade. Second, to plan the next stage of practical cooperation, particularly the establishment of the financing guarantee system for multilateral cooperation. Third, to exchange views on regional and international affairs, with a focus on improving the SCO measures in coping with situations that pose threats to regional peace, stability and security.

China holds that the world is currently undergoing dramatic development, changes and adjustments. Both the international and regional situations remain complicated and fluctuated, and regional hotspots keep emerging. It has been causing so many unstability and uncertainty to the security and development of the region.

Under new circumstances, the SCO should uphold "the Shanghai Spirit"ÿimplement comprehensively and thoroughly the consensus reached by leaders of the member states, strengthen cooperation, consolidate mutual trust, give top priority to security and pragmatic cooperation, adhere to the new concepts of security, cooperation, development and civilization advocated by the SCO, and step up communication, coordination and collaboration on major international and regional issues, with the aim to turn the SCO into the credible security safeguard for regional countries, the effective cooperation platform and the strong bond for generations of friendship. China is willing to work with other member states to promote the proceeding of the SCO towards the established goal of building a harmonious region with lasting peace and common prosperity.

c!. Afghanistan and the SCO
Since its founding in 2001, the SCO has always treated Afghanistan as an important cooperation partner. The SCO has established close coordination with Afghanistan in combating the "three forces", counter-narcotic and economic cooperation, and witnessed fruitful results.

The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group was officially set up in 2005. The Plan of Action of the SCO Member States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on Combating Terrorism, Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime was signed in 2009. Since 2004, Afghan President has successively participated in the important activities and pragmatic cooperations within the framework of the SCO as the guest of the rotating presidency. In this Beijing Summit, the issue of granting Afghanistan the SCO observer status will be on the agenda.

The SCO has been widely regarded as an important dialogue platform on Afghanistan, and a major channel of strengthening pragmatic cooperation on combating terrorism, drug-trafficking as well as organized crime between Afghanistan and its neighbours.
The next decade is not only the second decade for the development of the SCO, but the critical ten years for Afghanistan to achieve the lasting peace and development as well. Each participating country of the SCO will deepen cooperation with Afghanistan in all fields to meet regional challenges by sticking to the unity, coordination and geographic advantages.

i. Promoting counter-terrorism cooperation. Terrorism is the global challenge. Counter-terrorism is not only the responsibility of Afghanistan, but also the priority of the SCO. The SCO will exert its merits in counter-terrorism, and strengthen the cooperation on information exchanges, border management, assistant investigation of cases and personnel training with Afghanistan. The SCO is considering admitting Afghanistan to participate in its joint anti-terrorist exercise so as to combat the regional terrorism together.

ii. Strengthening anti-drug cooperation. Afghanistan is the biggest base of poppy cultivation in the world, with approximately 90 percent of global production. It made serious social and economic problems to the country. The SCO takes into consideration the establishment of drug control group within its standing institution to form liaison with Afghan counterpart, with a view of facilitating the Afghan anti-drug war by providing training and assisting.

iii. Deepening economic cooperation. The SCO is actively exploring the possibility of cooperation with Afghanistan in the fields of agriculture, energy, infrastructure and transit transport to help realize the sustainable development and self-reliance of Afghan economy. The SCO will continue inviting Afghanistan to attend the relevant conference of the economic leaders and participate in the multilateral economic and trade cooperation program of the SCO in order to create more opportunities for the Afghan economy.

iv. Expanding cultural exchanges. The SCO would like to train more qualified personnel for Afghan reconstruction process and continue to offer Afghanistan assistances in such areas as the epidemic prevention.
Afghanistan has been going through a critical transition period, with both tough challenges and great opportunities. As the important regional organization, the SCO would like to strengthen the cooperation and coordination on Afghan issue, together with the international community, to improve the capacity of Afghanistan in dealing with the new threats and emerging challenges during the transition, and help Afghanistan achieve peace, stability, independence and development at the earliest date.

Xu Feihong is the current Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Afghanistan

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