Tokayev Calls For Expanded SCO to Play Greater Role on Global Stage

SCO Summit, Astana; image: TCA, Jonathan Campion

A meeting entitled “Strengthening Multilateral Dialogue – Striving for Sustainable Peace and Development” was held to conclude the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana on July 4.

The meeting was was held in the “SCO Plus” format. and was attended by the leaders of the SCO full member states who participated in the Summit earlier in the day, plus leaders of the organization’s observer countries and dialogue partners. These included the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The SCO Plus session of the Summit took on greater importance this year, amid suggestions that the alliance is primed to expand next year. Countries interested in joining the SCO as full members include Turkey, Qatar and Egypt. 

In his speech at the meeting, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized the role that the SCO can play as a stabilizing force in the international arena.

“Today the world is faced with serious challenges caused by unprecedented geopolitical contradictions and growing conflict potential,” said Tokayev. “The international security architecture is under threat, which could lead to dire consequences for all of humanity. In such a fateful period, we are entrusted with a huge responsibility for strengthening peace, stability, and security through collective efforts at the regional and global levels. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, taking into account its authority, significant economic and human resources, is capable of developing effective solutions to achieve sustainable development goals and overcome modern challenges.” 

Concerning the role of the United Nations, Tokayev said that its potential is far from being exhausted. “Our common task is to strengthen the role of the UN as the main international institution for ensuring global security, capable of effectively confronting the challenges of the 21st century. The voice of the SCO should and will sound louder in the international arena, promoting a consolidated position on various problems of our time,” he emphasized. In his own speech, Gutteres referred to the SCO as “a valuable partner of the United Nations”.

With reference to strengthening trade and economic ties, Tokayev said: “At the current stage, the economies of the SCO member countries are demonstrating high growth rates of 4% to 9%. The share of the SCO states in global GDP is 30% already. Today, the foreign trade of the SCO participating countries exceeds $8 trillion, which is equivalent to a quarter of all world trade.” 

Tokayev emphasized the fact that economic growth in Asia is largely due to the SCO states. On behalf of Kazakhstan, he also welcomed China’s intention to expand access for SCO countries to its market, and increase trade turnover with the SCO member states to $3 trillion.

“It is important for us to fully unleash the colossal economic potential of the SCO. The interaction of the SCO with such integration associations as the EAEU, BRICS and ASEAN opens up broad prospects. A powerful driver for sustainable growth in global trade is further strengthening of transport connectivity. More than 350 thousand kilometers of railways run through the territory of the SCO member states, which account for 2/3 of the world’s freight turnover. Therefore, the SCO space is capable of becoming a Greater Eurasian belt for the development of global trade,” Tokayev concluded.

Jonathan Campion

Jonathan Campion

Jonathan Campion has worked in the Eurasia region since 2007. After leaving Exeter University with a degree in Russian Language, he worked as a writer, editor, analyst and translator for international law firms, market research firms and business forums serving the CIS region's major industries, from banking and finance, to metals and pharmaceuticals, and wine and spirits. With a passion for Central Asia, he has covered the region in esteemed publications such as the Lonely Planet, Open Central Asia magazine, and National Geographic Traveler.
He has translated books and poems from the region into English, and will be publishing his first book, about a sports team that saved lives at the start of Russia-Ukraine war, in April of 2024.

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