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16 September 2022, 09:00

The main day of the SCO summit in Samarkand. Why is it important for Belarus?

SAMARKAND, 16 September (BelTA) - The summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization continues in Uzbekistan. The leaders of the countries, including Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, arrived in the city of Samarkand the day before, held bilateral meetings, and took part in an informal program, BelTA has learned.

On the main day of the summit, the parties are set to exchange views on topical regional and international issues in the light of the political and economic situation in the region. Taking into account that Belarus has an observer status in the SCO, head of state Aleksandr Lukashenko will take part in an extended-participation meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council. The president will outline Belarus' priorities for cooperation in the SCO, including taking into account the country's bid to accede the organization as a full member. Topical international issues will be also on the agenda of the summit.

On 14 September the Belarusian leader held a number of bilateral meetings, including with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The foreign leaders expressed support for the Belarusian bid to join the SCO as a full member.

When meeting with SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus has been cooperating with the organization for 12 years. “Our step to join the ‘Shanghai family' as an observer was not spontaneous or accidental. At that time, the SCO was still a young organization and was just trying to find its place in the world. Today the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is viewed as the future, a very influential pole in a multipolar global order. That wasn't the case then. But at that time we made a decision to develop cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This is where our political, economic, and maybe military-political future lies," Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Therefore, working as an observer in the organization, we decided that it was time for us to become a full member of our ‘Shanghai family'. I know that you support us on this path. We are very grateful to you for that."

According to the SCO regulation on the admission of new members of 11 June 2010, an applicant state must accede to the international treaties in force in the SCO (about 40), make the necessary changes to the national legislation (India and Pakistan took about two years for this, Iran is undergoing the relevant procedures).

Thus, the main expected outcome of the summit for Belarus should be a decision to launch the accession procedure.

The Samarkand Declaration, the draft main political outcome of the summit, reflects the consolidated positions of the member states on the most important regional and global issues. It also outlines joint approaches to further improving of practical cooperation, ensuring regional stability, security and sustainable economic development, strengthening transport connectivity, and advancing cultural dialogue.

The SCO Heads of State Council is set to consider such important documents as the comprehensive action plan to implement the treaty on long-term good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation, the SCO concept of cooperation to develop connectivity and create effective transport corridors, the program to stimulate industrial cooperation, the regulations on the honorary title of "SCO Goodwill Ambassador" and others.

One of the important issues is the expansion of the SCO. During the meeting, the SCO leaders are set to sign a memorandum on Iran's commitments, a decision to launch the procedure for admission of the Republic of Belarus into the SCO membership. Plans are in place to sign memorandums to grant the status of a dialogue partner of the SCO to three countries: Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia (which will complete the legal registration of their participation in the SCO in this capacity), decisions to grant Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nepal and Cambodia the status of an observer state, and the decisions to grant Bahrain, Maldives, Myanmar and Syria the status of a dialogue partner.

It is expected that the expansion of the "SCO family" will give a significant impetus to multifaceted cooperation in regional security, trade, investment and industrial cooperation, and will contribute towards further development of the huge transport and transit potential in the organization's space.

The dynamic expansion of the SCO network of partner organizations continues. In particular, memorandums of understanding with the League of Arab States, UN specialized agencies ESCAP and UNESCO are expected to be signed in Samarkand.

All in all, more than four dozen different documents are expected to be signed in Samarkand. In addition to the topics already mentioned, these will be the documents on gradual increase in the share of national currencies in the mutual settlements of the SCO member states, on education, science and culture, combating terrorism, responding to climate change, maintaining the security and stability of international production and supply chains, cooperation in tourism, trade in services, museums, plant quarantine, and the use of renewable energy.

A number of documents relate to infrastructure development, stimulating industrial cooperation between business, promoting digital literacy, artificial intelligence, partnership in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, cooperation in science and technology, development of intraregional trade, interaction in the field of "smart" agriculture and the introduction of agricultural innovations.

In 2021, the SCO states accounted for 57.8% of the total trade of Belarus, including 47.7% of exports and 67.4% of imports.

In terms of economy, Belarus is interested in the development of the common transport space of the SCO, international road transport, and coordinated development of roads, rail transportation, which will contribute to multimodal transportation, development of a network of transport infrastructure and transit potential. Since 11 November 2018, Belarus has been a party to the agreement between the governments of the SCO member states to create favorable conditions for international road transport.

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