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Council of Heads of State

Address of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO Member States

A meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was held at the Palace of Independence.

At the beginning of the meeting, the heads of the delegations signed a decision on the admission of the Republic of Belarus to the Organization and granting it the status of a full-member state of the SCO.

Addressing the summit participants, the President of Kazakhstan emphasized that the SCO has evolved into an effective mechanism for interstate relations, operating on the principles of the “Shanghai spirit” of friendship, good-neighborliness, equality and mutual support.

“The SCO region is inhabited by over three billion people. The organization includes the largest and fastest growing economies in the world, collectively representing a third of global GDP. This clearly Underscores the enormous potential and global role of our Organization. The SCO has proven itself to be a unique platform where the voices and interests of all its member countries are equally respected. This unshakable democratic foundation underpins our long-term cooperation, which, I am confident, will be reinforced with new initiatives,” he said.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev summarized the results of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the SCO.

He expressed gratitude to all SCO participants for their active support and highlighted that approximately 150 events of various types were conducted during Kazakhstan’s tenure as chair. These included forums on digital technologies, tourism, energy, and business, as well as the inauguration of the SCO Youth Council.

The contractual base was augmented by 60 new documents, encompassing the Anti-Drug Strategy, the Implementation Plan for Economic Cooperation Strategy, the Agreement on Environmental Protection, and the Energy Cooperation Development Strategy.The circle of international organizations partnering with the SCO has expanded. The activities of the Special Working Group on Investments have been resumed. The transition process towards settlements in national currencies has shown positive momentum,” noted the Head of State.

“Thanks to all these measures,” he emphasized, “trade and economic cooperation in the SCO space is developing dynamically.” The President also underscored that the Kazakh chairmanship prioritized strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties.

“Several flagship projects have been initiated to enhance the appeal of the ‘SCO format’. Among them are the “Spiritual Shrines of the SCO Countries” project and the first international music festival “SCO Silk Road”. Ten tourist destinations have also been identified for the implementation of joint projects. The city of Almaty has been designated as the cultural and tourist capital of the SCO,” noted the Head of State.

In general, as the President stated, Kazakhstan has successfully achieved all the goals and objectives set at the previous summit. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed sincere gratitude to all countries for their support and active participation in the implementation of Kazakhstan’s initiatives.

Moreover, the Head of Kazakh state outlined key areas that he believes are strategically important for all countries of the “Shanghai Ten”.

The President named the strengthening of mutual trust and cooperation in the field of security as the primary focus.

“The current challenging situation stems from the acute crisis within the international relations system. In this context, the SCO must strengthen its stabilizing and innovative role to overcome the erosion of international law, mitigate geopolitical tensions and, ultimately, strengthen peace and security in a broad global context,” he said.

The head of state expressed confidence that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has exceptional capacity to serve as a guarantor of peace and security across the Eurasian continent.

To this end, Kazakhstan previously proposed the implementation of the SCO initiative “On World Unity for Just Peace, Harmony, and Development,” which was supported by the participants of the organization.

The speech also noted the need to develop and adopt an Agreement on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Sphere with a focus on combating the “forces of three evils.”

Another pressing task identified was enhancing cybersecurity among participants. To address this, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed developing a special mechanism for the continuous exchange of information, the implementation of best practices and advanced experience to ensure the stable functioning of the information infrastructure of the SCO countries.

According to the President of Kazakhstan, the Plan of Interaction on Ensuring International Information Security, which is being adopted today, meets the stated goals.

The President identified the expansion of trade and economic ties as the second priority area of cooperation.

“Unfavorable trends are gaining momentum in the global economy. According to the World Bank, the growth rate of the global economy will slow down this year.

It’s evident that the global economy requires new growth catalysts and a fundamentally different development approach. Therefore, in our opinion, the important tasks of the Shanghai Organization are the expansion of trade and economic cooperation, facilitating free movement of capital and technology, and addressing climate challenges. Mutual trade growth is emerging as a prevailing trend within the SCO region. Thus, Kazakhstan’s trade with SCO countries increased by 6.5% last year.

The SCO countries have a solid technological base and a colossal market for the development of all vital sectors of the economy.

Significant progress in this area will be facilitated by the development of special tax, customs and migration regimes. In this regard, Kazakhstan’s proposal to create an SCO Economic Preferences Database remains pertinent. There’s a clear need for a unified platform to discuss and approve investment projects. We propose establishing a Mechanism for Financial Support of Project Activities based on the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC). China, Russia, India, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan are already actively engaged in this initiative. Currently, 20% of AIFC residents represent companies from SCO countries,” noted the President.

The third area of cooperation focuses on strengthening transport connectivity through the establishment of efficient corridors and reliable supply chains.

“We attach exceptional importance to the further synergy of the Chinese ‘One Belt, One Road’ mega-project with the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route and the Trans-Eurasian corridors, particularly the ‘North-South’ direction, including the vector “Central Asia- South Asia”. To implement these plans, it is important to take practical measures to create a Partnership Network of Strategic Ports and Logistics Centers within the SCO,” said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The Head of State particularly focused on the need to reform and modernize the SCO.

“In the face of rapid global changes, we are confronted with the urgent task of further improving the activities of the SCO. The ongoing process of expansion of the Organization opens up new opportunities and gives impetus to its development. Our country, as the SCO Chair, has presented its balanced proposals for transforming the Organization into an even more effective multilateral cooperation mechanism. In particular, we advocate strengthening the role of the SCOSecretariat and the Secretary General,” the President emphasized.

As the leader of Kazakhstan noted, all the proposals made were driven by a sincere commitment to contribute meaningfully towards achieving the common noble goals shared by all SCO countries.

In conclusion, the Head of our state thanked all the participants of the event for their support. He cordially congratulated the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping on assuming the chairmanship of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO Member States and wished the Chinese side success.

The summit was also addressed by the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, Acting President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Mokhber, Chairman of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming, Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Ruslan Mirzayev.

Summing up the meeting, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev highlighted that a broad spectrum of issues regarding the advancement of multifaceted cooperation had been discussed, and the direction for further development of the Organization was set.

“We are optimistic about the future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. I am confident that the documents we are about to sign will mark a new chapter of cooperation within the SCO and will contribute to the systematic and comprehensive development of our Organization,” emphasized the President of Kazakhstan.