Russian FM Lavrov Attends SCO Ministerial Meeting in Tashkent With Economy & Trade High on Agenda
© Photo : Russian Foreign MinistrySergei Lavrov
© Photo : Russian Foreign Ministry/
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took part in a two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Tashkent on the final leg of his trip to African nations and Uzbekistan.
Foreign ministers from the organization’s member nations focused on regional and international agendas.
More than a dozen documents were submitted for the ministerial review before the Tashkent meeting. Top diplomats from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, and this year’s host nation – Uzbekistan – discussed further integration trends within the bloc.
© Photo : Russian Foreign MinistrySCO ministerial meeting in Tashkent
SCO ministerial meeting in Tashkent
© Photo : Russian Foreign Ministry/
According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the two key documents reviewed on Friday were the concept of interconnectedness of transportation corridors and the roadmap on implementing trade in the national currencies of member states.
The meeting’s economic agenda also included proposed agreements on energy, digitalization, transportation, innovations, telecommunications, and health care.
“One of the results of our joint coordinated efforts is the adoption by foreign ministers of a document on strengthening the Biological and Toxin weapons convention," Russia’s top diplomat said at a news conference.
Security issues were raised too: most SCO member states seem to be concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, since it affects the stability on their borders. On Thursday, the Russian foreign minister discussed the issue at a bilateral meeting with Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and on Friday it was addressed at the main multilateral diplomatic meeting at Tashkent’s Congress Hall:
"We work with the government in Afghanistan, we recognize it as a reality on the ground, we have our embassy which never left Kabul,“ Lavrov said, adding “But for legal recognition, the government of Afghanistan needs to deliver on what they promised when they were taking power: that they were creating an inclusive government, not only inclusive from the ethnic point of view, but from a political view, that they will be increasing efforts to fight terrorism and drug trafficking, and, of course, they should ensure basic rights for their citizens.”
When it comes to humanitarian aspects of their cooperation, the SCO members made a decision to organize the bloc’s own sporting competitions – the SCO Games, and to form a group of Shanghai Cooperation Organization Goodwill Ambassadors, who will promote the bloc’s values in their countries.
Another humanitarian project, which will see light in 2023, is the introduction of the SCO's cultural and touristic capital. One city will be chosen each year for this role. Next year, an Indian city will receive this status, although it hasn’t been announced yet as to which municipality will be picked.
Uzbekistan is one of the SCO's original members that co-signed the declaration on forming the organization on June 15, 2001.
Currently, there are eight full-time members, four observing nations, and six dialogue partners in the SCO, which brings the total number of countries involved to 18. Their combined population is around three billion people. The bloc is working actively on accepting new full-time members, with Belarus and Iran being the key candidates as of today.
India and Pakistan, which both joined the SCO in 2017, have significantly broadened the organization’s geographic coverage, adding new tasks to the agenda when it comes to discussing regional security, cultural, and economic issues.
The documents which were discussed in Uzbekistan on Thursday and Friday will be finalized in the coming weeks, as the Tashkent ministerial meeting has paved the way for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s leaders’ summit in Tashkent, scheduled for the middle of September.