DUSHANBE, September 17 (BelTA) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is attending the meeting of the Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on September 17, BelTA has learned.

The SCO summit will take stock of the progress made by the organization over the past 20 years and highlight the state and prospects of multilateral cooperation. More than 40 documents have been prepared for summit review.

Heads of state are expected to discuss new measures to overcome the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and other issues of regional and international cooperation. Participants in the meeting are also expected to decide on the initiation of the procedure for admitting Iran as a full member of the SCO and granting dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Egypt. Saudi Arabia.

This year, the association celebrates its 20th anniversary. The summit takes place in the palace of Navruz. It is one of the largest palaces in the world built in 2014. It has become the crown jewel of modern Dushanbe, and Tajikistan intends to initiate the inscription of the complex on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

The main attraction of the Navruz Palace (which means “new day” in Tajik) are four majestic halls that host high-level meetings, conferences and banquets. Two of them – Didor and Zarandud – today welcome the leaders of the SCO. Tons of semi-precious stones and precious woods were used for the decoration of the rooms. The chandelier that adorns the Zarandud room is one of the largest in the world. It weighs 6.7 tonnes and consists of 1,600 bulbs.

What is the SCO?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent international intergovernmental organization. Its creation was announced on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The original five members, excluding Uzbekistan, were previously members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on April 26, 1996 and based on the Treaty on Deepening Military Confidence in Border Regions (Shanghai, 1996) and the Treaty on the Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions (Moscow, 1997).

Eight countries are currently members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: in addition to its founders, India and Pakistan joined the organization in 2017. Belarus obtained observer status at the SCO in 2015. Three more countries – Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia – have the same status in the organization. The SCO also has six dialogue partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka.

The growth of the economies of the SCO countries, their military potential (there are four nuclear powers among its members) and the successes on the international scene demonstrate the successful development of the organization. The League of Arab States shows great interest in its work.

What does the SCO do?

The SCO prioritizes security and peacekeeping in the region. The SCO regional counterterrorism structure plays an important role in this regard. He established close contacts with the specialized structures of the UN, OSCE, Interpol, CSTO and the CIS Counter-Terrorism Center.

The SCO develops political, economic and humanitarian cooperation. Countries attach increasing importance to the development of economic cooperation with an emphasis on digitization. The organization signed an agreement on the development of transport communication. Countries intend to create barrier-free digital transport corridors and systems for tracking the transit of goods by cars and trains using navigation seals. Such a “green corridor” will considerably reduce the time required for administrative procedures and increase the volume of transport services.

In 2018, a food security program was adopted. States are working to develop modern agricultural clusters and smart agriculture without pollution. Long-term prospects include the creation of a free trade area, the formation of a development fund and bank, and the implementation of multilateral projects.

Why is Belarus participating in the SCO?

Cooperation within the SCO opens up great prospects not only in the political field but also in the commercial and economic field. Observer status allows Belarus to participate in meetings of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO, meetings of SCO foreign economy and foreign trade ministers, conferences on trade and economic cooperation , events of non-governmental structures of the SCO: the Business Council and the Interbank Association.

In particular, Belarus is interested in improving the common transport space in the SCO region, international transport, as well as the coordinated development of highways. This should facilitate the country’s participation in multimodal transport, improve transport infrastructure and unleash the transit potential.

Belarus is also developing cooperation within the SCO in the military field and through anti-terrorism structures. Belarus also interacts in many areas of cultural and humanitarian cooperation as well as in the parliamentary sphere.

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