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Create bipolarity

EastRussia finds out what to expect from the SCO summit - 2015

From words to action: on the eve of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, deputy head of the Center for Strategic Studies of Northeast Asia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization of the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Lieutenant-General Anatoly Klimenko shared his opinion with EastRussia on how to make the SCO operational.

Create bipolarity

- Anatoly Filipovich, what, in your opinion, can be expected from the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this year?

- Today, the Shanghai organization has approached a qualitatively new stage in its development, when, in many ways, from virtual education, it received a real chance to become a full-fledged integration regional structure with such an important quality as capacity. Until now, this, in general, was largely a declarative organization. This is evidenced by the fact that only today, at the summit of the heads of the SCO member states, it is planned to approve the development strategy of the Shanghai organization to 2025. This is one of the key documents that determines the prospects for its development. By the way, this has been discussed for a long time. Back in 1999, the monograph “The Development Strategy of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization” was published at our institute, where all the advantages and disadvantages of the SCO were analyzed and it was concluded that without a clear, intelligible strategy, it is impossible to expect anything from this organization. Now the founders of the SCO have already approached that they are ready to adopt such a strategy.

This document, as its drafters say, is intended to bring the organization to a more effective level of partnership in all spheres, including the military one close to me. It analyzes the main trends in global, regional development.

I am impressed by the statement of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that in terms of increasing the SCO's ability to act in the sphere of regional security, Russia will speak at the forthcoming summit with the initiative to create a new body under the Organization, the apparatus of national military advisers. Something similar we also proposed earlier, but called it differently - the Coordinating Committee for Military Cooperation. In our opinion, this body should monitor the situation in the region, identify threats to the participating countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, prepare recommendations for the heads of state that counter these threats, and plan the use of the necessary forces and means to neutralize such threats.

We understand that the Shanghai organization does not position itself as a military-political alliance, but as an organization of strategic partnership. And yet, in accordance with its Charter, it is responsible for ensuring regional security and stability and must be able to fully meet the challenges of combating terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and other challenges and threats.

- On the concrete results of the work of this organization (the SCO was established in 2001 year) can one speak or not? Or are they only solid declarations?

- You can talk about concrete results. The Organization has a regional antiterrorist structure, the Institute of Peace Mission has been established, and maneuvers of the member countries of the Shanghai Organization are held regularly, both bilaterally and multilaterally. What does this give? This presents us with the opportunity, if necessary, in the shortest possible time to create a grouping of armed forces that will be able to withstand large-scale terrorist threats. The question is whether this possibility was backed up by legislation and there was an authority ready to take over management. The Institute of Military Advisers, which the Defense Minister Shoigu talks about, can be the basis of this body. These are practical cases in the sphere of security.

The next question, the discussion of which will be launched in Ufa, is to study and analyze all aspects of the political and economic interface of the Eurasian Economic Union and Beijing's megaproject - the Silk Road economic belt, as well as the creation of the International Center for Pre-Project Preparation and Financing of SCO Projects. If we are talking about the conjugation of these two projects, then naturally, without financing, no matter will start. Therefore, among the well-known issues on the agenda of the Shanghai organization there are two, the solution of which will determine its future. This is the creation of the Development Bank and the Development Fund of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

It cannot be said that the SCO had no projects before. There were pilot projects for the construction of roads, for the creation of an energy club, for mutual use in the common interest of water resources. It is not a secret that the following contradictions sometimes arise between the members of the Shanghai organization: mountain states (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan), which have water and energy resources, and lowland states (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan), which should use these resources, could not find a common language, how to work in the common interest. In the Soviet Union, everything was decided centrally. Today, the decisions of the SCO are aimed at giving new impetus to these economic projects.

- Can give impetus?

- Contradictions between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are only now beginning to be resolved (we are talking about the territorial claims of Tajikistan on the Uzbek cities of Samarkand and Bukhara - comment of the author). The Shanghai organization for the beginning and was created to resolve contradictions between the states on border issues. But why can not the SCO coordinate the actions of these states on water, energy and other issues? There is not enough coordination committee.

The Secretariat prepares only summits, various meetings and councils. It would be good if I would be on the basis of the secretariat (or outside it) for all the problems I have mentioned: a) economic, b) security, c) humanitarian and d) for political issues, to create coordination groups. So far, as we see, only in the areas of economy and security we are beginning to come up with some decisions that will be adopted this year.

- So it turns out that with the 2001 year the work of the SCO was not very effective?

- We can't say that. After all, the Shanghai organization was created from scratch. Moreover, it began to position itself not as a binding authority, but as a body that is called upon to conjugate the interests of its member states. That is why various councils, meetings, secretariats that solve these issues were born. And now we come to the understanding that this is not enough, and we must work to improve its capacity. To do this, the Organization should have the appropriate structures in the areas in which it is called upon to work in accordance with the SCO Charter - political, economic, humanitarian, security.

- Is it possible to speak in connection with the exacerbation of the geopolitical situation in the world about strengthening the role of China in the SCO, and precisely in the economic aspect?

- Discussion on the establishment of the Development Bank and the Development Fund of the SCO has been going on for several years, including because of the negative attitude to this project from the Russian side. Why? First of all, because of the reluctance to institutionalize the Chinese financial and economic dominance in the post-Soviet member countries of the organization. It's no secret that China is ready to offer a variety of products at affordable prices. But then what will industrial enterprises do in Russia, in Kazakhstan, etc.? We will become an energy appendage of China, we will face unemployment. Is it profitable for us? No. Therefore, we were somewhat distrustful of the Chinese proposals. But the crisis in relations with Western states, apparently, prompted Russia to reconsider its priorities in foreign policy and outlined a certain turn toward the East.

On the other hand, China, realizing that it does not break through the Russian resistance, began to set up its Asian Bank, other bodies, to develop cooperation with the Central Asian participants of the SCO on a bilateral basis. Apparently, this prompted Russia to clarify its approaches to this problem, so as not to stay on the sidelines.

- It so happened that the division of functions took place in the SCO: Russia is security, and China is an economy. Given the difficult situation in the region, it's time to reconcile interests?

- Yes, it is not so easy to reconcile interests. The situation is very serious, and not only in the Central Asian region, but also in the neighboring Middle East. The Islamic state is not an isolated group, a community of Islamic fundamentalists, but a pseudo-state that has its own finances, politics, armed forces, is going to print money, seized half of Syria, controls a third of Iraq's territory. They are not limited to the Middle East. According to the Uzbek special services, advanced groups of these Islamists are already operating in the Uzbek spurs of Chimgan.

Moreover, it is known about the plans of the Islamic state to create in the territory of Central Asia a new state formation - Khorasan. And now contingents of Western forces leave Afghanistan, leaving there 10-15 thousand people, mostly military advisers. But will they be able to keep under their control the situation if an onslaught begins on the part of Islamic states and local fundamentalists ?! Even if the Islamic state is defeated (well, let's say the international community takes it), then extremists who have received good military training will start returning to their states - Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan - and they will stir up riots there. In any case, the Shanghai organization should be prepared for the most negative variants of the development of events. And why should China stay away from it? After all, the Chinese Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Tibet and, to a lesser extent, Inner Mongolia - these are also the points that can explode, especially with the help from outside, and China needs to be aware of this.

- India and Pakistan have applied for membership in the SCO. They expect that this application will be implemented. What will this give the organization as a whole and these states in particular?

- As for India, leading Indian experts say that it is ready to share responsibility for security in the Central Asian region, in Afghanistan and in the space of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Moreover, if Pakistan too will be in the SCO, it may be easier for them to find a common language on the settlement of existing interstate problems.

Both India and China are interested in working with Afghanistan. For example, through the territory of Afghanistan and Pakistan, an energy pipeline to India is possible. These are projects that can be implemented in the future.

And I would also like to say about Iran. Iran 11 years ago applied for membership in the SCO. He expected that, since the issue of the nuclear issue had shifted from its place, the sanctions were weakened, and it would have been possible to implement the question of its admission to this organization. But it does not work out yet. Although Iran is in solidarity with the main players of the SCO (both with Russia and with China) that the region must independently ensure its security, without the intervention of external forces. We do not need Western contingents, we ourselves must resolve these issues on our own space. Moreover, it is expected that Afghanistan can apply for membership as a full member of the SCO (he is now an observer of this organization).

The coincidence of the interests of Iran and other members of the SCO creates good preconditions for cooperation in the field of security. The status of a full-fledged member of the SCO would allow Iran to make full use of membership in the organization to indicate its principled approaches to the formation of a regional security system in Central Asia. After all, we see what efforts Iran is making to counter the IGIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - author's comment), to assist Iraq and Syria in the fight against this pseudo-state. He has greatly helped Afghanistan in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. That is, it is a ready participant, so to speak, who can immediately contribute to regional security.

- If India does enter the SCO this year, how will this change the situation in the world in general? After all, this state with very large reserves.

- The SCO can create a kind of core based on the RIC (Russia, India, China), which can give a new impetus to the development of this organization, carry along other countries, thanks to its finances, economic, political potential and international authority. This is a high potential. But how to realize this potential is a question for now. It is no secret that India is a vacillating state. The United States works very closely with it, trying to engage its policies. We need to work, we need to show the advantages, we need the SCO to become a viable organization that would work in the interests of its participants and could give as much as the United States would give.

- If we talk about Turkey, what is its position?

- Turkey's position is alarming. She is a partner in the dialogue in the Shanghai organization. Well, what is its contribution? While this is not visible - on the contrary, it provides assistance to those who are fighting against the legitimate government of Syria, through its territory, passes those who seek to enter the Islamic state, creates favorable conditions for this. And then she is a member of NATO, this must not be forgotten. If it is a question of joining it as a full member of the SCO, Turkey should think about how to deal with NATO. After all, the SCO can not accept into its membership the states that are members of other military-political alliances.

- Is it possible that, trying to revive the Silk Road, including with the help of the Shanghai organization, we will again become a raw materials appendage of China?

- Russia should see benefits in these projects. Do we benefit from high-speed railways? Profitable. This is not only a railway track, this is the construction of infrastructure along the railway, this is the creation of jobs, this is an increase in the employment of the population and its well-being, it is the solution of social issues. It is beneficial to us. Well, the exchange of goods - this is our problem, and we solve it. Of course, it is difficult for us to compete with China, because China has cheaper goods, but this is a temporary phenomenon. Labor is also becoming more expensive in China, and over time this factor will play an increasingly significant role. Who forbids us to work in the direction of defending our interests, our own benefits?

- In Ufa, both the SCO and BRICS summits will be held almost simultaneously. Will they intersect ideologically?

- Of course, it is no secret that countries are now uniting around either the west-centric model, or the east-centric model. This is where bipolarity is planned. If this bipolarity is clearly delineated, then we will come to a more stable world: the multipolar world is more susceptible to destabilization than the bipolar world. Even the “cold war” between the United States and the USSR was more responsible for stability than the multipolar world, which we called for after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Well, a stable world does not work, because there are so many players, and each player defends his interests and acts in his own interests, and it is very difficult to match these interests. The bipolar world is easier.

- What is the place of Russia in the modern world?

- We position ourselves as an Euro-Asian country, and our policy is aimed at interacting with other global players. That is, a multi-vector policy: we are ready to work on all azimuths, in various organizations and do not focus only on the Shanghai organization. We are ready to cooperate in the BRICS, with the states of the North Atlantic Alliance, and with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations - author's comment). We are not isolated from the Asian world and are ready to work there.

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