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Speech at expanded-format meeting at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State

July 10, 2015

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends

Let me open this expanded meeting of the  Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State, with the participation of observer countries, invited countries, guests, and representatives of international organisations.

I would ask you first to come back to the agenda and approve it, if there are no additional remarks following the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State meeting in narrow format.

There are no remarks? Thank you. Let us consider the agenda approved. I propose that we begin work. Allow me first to say a few remarks on behalf of the Russian delegation.

The Ufa summit concludes Russia’s presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation over this last year. Our presidency focused on developing cooperation in all areas of the SCO’s activity and strengthening the organisation’s potential and influence.

Around 80 different events took place with success over 2014–2015. A whole package of important documents was prepared for this summit of the Council of Heads of State. They include, first and foremost, the Ufa Declaration, which reflects our common vision and consolidated assessment of the situation in the region and in the world in general, the results of Russia’s presidency, and the directions for the organisation’s future work.

The SCO Development Strategy through to 2025 awaits our approval today. This document sets out the concrete cooperation tasks for the coming decade. We will also sign a new agreement on border matters and a programme for cooperation in fighting terrorism and the drug threat.

Colleagues, today’s summit opens a new stage in the SCO’s development. For the first time since the organisation’s founding, we are launching the accession procedure for two new member countries – India and Pakistan. We have also agreed to raise the Republic of Belarus to observer country status in the SCO.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, and Nepal are joining the SCO family of countries as dialogue partners. I note that a number of other countries have also expressed interest in joining our organisation’s work in one form or another. We will examine their applications with attention, in accordance, with the relevant requirements.

I note that ensuring the security of the member countries’ territory and external borders remains one of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s priority areas of work. The worsening situation in Afghanistan, where the decade-long presence of an international military contingent has not brought about any real improvement in the situation, is a cause of much concern. The growing activity of the Islamic State terrorist organisation, which is trying to spread its influence, is further worsening the situation.

We agreed to bolster coordination between our defence ministries to monitor the situation more effectively and coordinate joint action to prevent potential threats. We also agreed to continue our practice of holding annual counterterrorist exercises.

Terrorists and extremists receive substantial money from the sale of drugs produced in Afghanistan. According to our data, opium poppy cultivation increased by 7 percent in 2014, bringing opiate production up to 6,400 tonnes (the figure was 5,500 tonnes in 2013). We think the time has come to establish within the Regional Antiterrorist Structure a working group on combating the financing of terrorism through drug trafficking.

Colleagues, we place particular emphasis on continuing to develop trade and economic cooperation within the SCO. It is clear that if we join our efforts together, we can handle crises in the global economy and finances more effectively and have an easier task in overcoming various restrictions and barriers.

We think it important to develop our cooperation in ensuring food, transport, energy and financial security. We are ready to work closely together to coordinate and build links between the two integration projects – the  Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt.

We see big promise for the initiative of developing a common SCO transport system, including using the transit potential offered by the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railways in Russia.

We need to give the SCO Energy Club’s work concrete tasks and objectives. We welcome our business communities’ active involvement in developing practical cooperation. The SCO Business Council has an important part to play in this area.

Improving cooperation in the financial sector is one of our priorities. We are taking part in establishing the SCO Development Bank and special account. We think the idea to establish an international centre for project financing through the SCO inter-bank group is a very promising initiative. We should make more active use too of the possibilities offered by existing regional financial organisations such as the  Eurasian Development Bank, the Asian Bank for Infrastructure Investment, and the New Development Bank being set up by the  BRICS countries.

We also have some good results in humanitarian cooperation. The SCO Youth Council has demonstrated its usefulness with its initiative to establish an SCO young people’s international tourism card. I think this project will help young people to expand substantially their contacts with each other. We also welcome the agreements in March this year to draw up a programme for developing tourism sector cooperation.

The project to develop the SCO network university is going ahead well. The project brings together 69 universities in SCO countries and 4 in Belarus. We hope to sign soon an intergovernmental agreement on the network university’s establishment, and approve the charter.

Friends, the Ufa summit is taking place as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. In this respect, I want to thank once again our partners for taking part in the celebrations in May marking the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. I note that the leaders of all of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member countries came to Moscow.

We honour greatly the feats our peoples accomplished and will do everything we can to ensure this tragedy, which pushed the world to the brink of destruction, never repeats itself. This view is reflected in the joint statement on the 70th anniversary of the Victory over Fascism that we will adopt today.

I add too, that, at the invitation of President of China Xi Jinping, we will be in Beijing in September to take part in the events celebrating the 70th anniversary of victory over Japanese militarism.

Colleagues, today, the SCO presidency passes to Uzbekistan. I wish President Karimov successful and productive work as the next president of the organisation. Russia will certainly do everything it can to provide all-round support to our Uzbekistani colleagues.

Thank you very much for your attention.

July 10, 2015