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Joint meeting of SCO and CSTO heads of state

September 17, 2021, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation held a joint meeting in Dushanbe. Vladimir Putin took part in it via videoconference.

The meeting participants also included Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of China Xi Jinping, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, President of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation Stanislav Zas and Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Vladimir Norov.

President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon chaired the meeting as the head of state presiding in the  SCO and the  CSTO this year.

session of the CSTO Collective Security Council and a meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council took place earlier in Dushanbe.

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Speech at joint meeting of SCO and CSTO Heads of State

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Rahmon, colleagues.

I appreciate your support of the proposal to hold the meeting in a new format, as a joint meeting of the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. Our discussion today shows how important it is for the two organisations to join forces to ensure security and stability in Eurasia. It is particularly relevant considering the recent escalation of the already turbulent situation in Afghanistan.

Our colleagues’ remarks indicate that our states share similar approaches to responding to the threats that have been emanating from Afghanistan since the Americans left it in haste, or perhaps I should say fled, along with their NATO allies.

They all left behind an open Pandora’s box full of problems caused by terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime and, unfortunately, religious extremism. We witnessed it only recently. Our Pakistani colleague mentioned the airport terrorist attack. The Western community left, abandoning an entire arsenal of modern weapons, military equipment and munitions.

The weapons are perhaps the only thing that the Taliban has made a good haul of over the Western coalition’s 20-year presence in Afghanistan, which bodes no good.

Other than that, the country is in a state of complete economic and social havoc. Many Afghans are desperately fleeing their homeland. Yes, we do hope that there will be no mass exodus of millions of people, but it is a fact: many are seeking exit, moving across the border and beyond, thus creating the risk of criminal infiltration.

I am convinced that it is certainly in our common interests to help Afghanistan achieve peace and stability, at long last. Owing to historical, socioeconomic, ethnic-cultural and geographic reasons, this country should, objectively speaking, be an inalienable part of the Eurasian security and cooperation system.

And, of course, we are extremely interested in seeing Afghanistan assert itself as an independent, neutral, integral and democratic state free from terrorism, war and drugs, living in peace and accord with its neighbours. In this context, the launch of sustainable, efficient and result-oriented intra-Afghan dialogue involving all (I want to underscore this), precisely all ethnic, religious and political groups of Afghan society has special significance.

The Taliban movement, which has become virtually the complete master of the country, has established its own government that has assumed responsibility for the future of Afghanistan. According to the Talibs themselves, this is an interim government, and it cannot be called truly all-inclusive; nor does it represent all segments. We do not see representatives of other ethnic groups here, but it appears that we, of course, should also work with it.

Speaking of recognition, I agree with those who have spoken on this matter that it is necessary to coordinate our position on this issue. We would consider it optimal to launch this dialogue under the expanded Troika format on Afghanistan, and work is now underway in this direction.

I would like to recall the earlier Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan that involved many of our partners from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the CSTO. If necessary, it would be possible to resume its work, with the agreement of all states involved in it.

Speaking at the latest SCO summit, I have just mentioned the possible resumption of the work of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group that was established precisely in order to work with Afghan partners.

So, as some speakers have mentioned, we could discuss closer contact between the CSTO and the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) to exchange information on terrorist organisations, illegal armed groups and the methods and tactics of their actions. We could also consider the CSTO collective rapid reaction forces participation in SCO counterterrorism exercises.

I would like to note that right now, September 11–25, the Orenburg Region in Russia is hosting the regular joint exercises of the SCO members named Peaceful Mission 2021. This time, the Republic of Belarus has joined the exercises by consent of the other members.

I am confident that the SCO and the CSTO have all the necessary resources and potential for raising our very practical cooperation to a new level. This is especially needed now given the developments in Afghanistan that we are discussing.

Incidentally, it is worth mentioning that it was here in Dushanbe in 2007 that we laid the legal foundations for SCO-CSTO coordination in the signed memorandum of understanding between their secretariats.

Moreover, the SCO’s extensive partner network allows us – by consensus – to involve other multilateral Eurasian associations in our joint efforts, and to cooperate effectively with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and other UN agencies.

I would like to emphasise that we must look at systemic steps on synchronising the activities of the SCO, CSTO and other regional associations not only as a means of resolving urgent problems but also as the groundwork for creating a common space of equal and indivisible security in Eurasia.

I’m sure that the international community will not ignore the joint meeting of the SCO and CSTO leaders. There will probably be some critical remarks about us but judging by the astute discussions of these problems by the participants, we are on the right track and must certainly cooperate in this area.

I am grateful to all of you for your attention. Thank you very much.

September 17, 2021, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region