Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the opening of consultations of the SCO member states, Moscow, January 20, 2017
I am happy to welcome you to Moscow. First of all, I would like to wish you a happy New Year, health, success and all the best.
We have met in a complicated international situation. We are alarmed by an unprecedented increase in terrorist activity, which over a short period of time, literally before our very eyes, has grown into the biggest threat to global security. Bloody terrorist attacks around the world, including the heinous murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, are evidence of this extremely dangerous trend. The situation is further exacerbated by numerous local conflicts and persisting global economic uncertainty.
However, there is also a glimmer of hope. For example, I believe that the recent terrorist attacks have strengthened the global awareness of the imperative need to create a broad international coalition against terrorism, as President of Russia Vladimir Putin said at the UN General Assembly in New York in 2015. Another element that breeds hope is the nascent positive trends in the Syrian crisis. At the least, all sides agree now that there is no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement in Syria through a national dialogue based on the relevant UN Security Council resolution. As you know, an intra-Syrian meeting between the delegations of the Syrian Government and the armed opposition will be held in Astana next week. We consider this meeting a major contribution to formulating the parameters for a comprehensive political settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic. It will be followed by broader meetings in Geneva in early February, according to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria.
Much in global affairs will depend on our relations with the leading Western countries, above all with the new US administration. We would like to hope that our partners will abandon their lopsided and mercenary attitude to the key international issues. We have taken note of Donald Trump’s election statements, including on readiness and resolve for a joint fight against ISIS. As President Putin said more than once, Russia is ready to cover its part of the way towards resuming constructive dialogue with Washington, primarily in order to find effective responses to terrorism and many other global challenges.
It is heartening that the situation in the SCO countries has remained stable despite the current international problems. We have managed to prevent external threats from spreading into our territories. We see this as result of the member states’ concerted and active efforts.
We have accumulated considerable cooperation potential over the 15 years since the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a potential we must continue to use effectively. We have outlined a path taking the organisation into the future and adopted the SCO Development Strategy through 2025 and an Action Plan for implementing this Strategy through 2020.
Under its Charter, the SCO is open for accession by other countries that fulfil the criteria and conditions that have been set out in our statutes and regulations. We hope that the procedure to grant the status of member states to India and Pakistan will be completed at the July meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council in Astana. This historical event will greatly enhance the political and economic weight of the SCO and strengthen its security capabilities.
Russia’s revised Foreign Policy Concept, which President Putin approved in November 2016, says that Russia attaches importance to further strengthening the SCO’s role in regional and global affairs and expanding its membership, and stands for increasing the SCO’s political and economic potential. I am convinced that these goals and tasks meet the interests of all our countries.
I would like to hope that today we will hold involved and useful discussions in a trust-based and friendly atmosphere, which is traditional for the SCO format. I hope that the agreements we reach today will further enhance the SCO’s operation and the effectiveness of its mechanisms.