President of the Republic of Tajikistan
Chairman of the Council of Heads of the SCO Member States in 2021
Since the early days of gaining its independence, the Republic of Tajikistan, based on the principles of the ‘open door’ policy, peacefulness and objectivity, established and subsequently extended and strengthened friendly, equal and mutually beneficial relations with most countries of the world, in addition to establishing strategic partnership with several of them. One of the priorities of the international strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan is the policy of good-neighborliness and multilateral cooperation with the Central Asian states. The creation of an atmosphere of credibility and security along the entire perimeter of the country’s borders is one of the key goals of this policy.
Along with this, the foreign policy of our state aimed at ensuring wide-ranging and effective participation of the country in relevant international and regional organizations. Through the implementation of such policies, Tajikistan makes its feasible contribution to ensure peace and security, the establishment of beneficial international cooperation and constructive dialogue, and takes advantage of the capabilities of international and regional organizations to enable the sustainable development of the country and strengthen its position in the international arena.
This year the Republic of Tajikistan celebrates the 30th Anniversary of State Independence. During this short period by historical standards, our republic has established full-fledged diplomatic relations with 179 countries of the world and has become an active member of prestigious international and regional organizations. By establishing partnerships with the world community within the framework of international and regional organizations, the Republic of Tajikistan has expanded cooperation with the UN and its specialized agencies, SCO, CSTO, OSCE, ECO and OIC, as well as with other development partners, international and regional financial institutions.
In the framework of multilateral diplomacy, the Republic of Tajikistan pays particular attention to the development of fruitful relations within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO/Organization). It is no coincidence that the current Foreign Policy Concept of the Republic of Tajikistan notes: “Active participation of the Republic of Tajikistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization aims to strengthen good-neighborly ties, friendly and amicable relations among the Member States and observers of the Organization, as well as ensuring security, stability and sustainable development in the region.”
It should be highlighted that the twentieth anniversary of SCO, which we are celebrating this year, has confirmed from the first day of its activity that it is a dynamic organization and a reputable international institution not only in the region but also at the global level. Over its twenty-year history, SCO has turned into one of the most influential international organizations of a new type, into a unique regional structure that has repeatedly proved its universal character in resolving topical world issues.
The course of events in the era of globalization has clearly shown to all political actors that no state alone is capable of effectively dealing with modern challenges and threats. Under such circumstances, only coordinated measures and joint efforts of all states can be effective. SCO has gone through a long process of formation to reach the current stage of development and become a powerful international organization. To establish the organization as such, it was essential to go through a period of fruitful and multifaceted cooperation.
Considering the development of the international situation and the surge in security threats in the region at the end of the 90’s of the last century, the ‘Shanghai Five’ member states faced the crucial decision. It was necessary to agree on the creation of a new, improved organization as one of the most important tools to counter the new threats and challenges that are gaining strength. Accordingly, the Heads of State decided to initiate the foundation for creating a more complete structure based on the ‘Shanghai Five’, which could unite China, Russia and all the Central Asian countries into a single regional organization.
On 25 August 1999, the fourth summit of the ‘Shanghai Five’ was held in Bishkek. At this forum, it was decided to transfer the initiative to hold the Fifth summit of Heads of State to Tajikistan. The presidency of the Republic of Tajikistan in the ‘Shanghai Five’ lasted from September 1999 to July 2000.
The meeting of the Heads of the ‘Shanghai Five’ countries, which took place on 5 July 2000 in Dushanbe, became a remarkable event of particular significance. The ‘Shanghai Five’ was renamed the ‘Shanghai Forum’ in Dushanbe. It was this Dushanbe decision that laid the foundation for the creation of SCO. The Dushanbe Declaration of 2000 laid down the fundamental ideas about the goals, objectives and main directions of activities of the future prestigious regional international organization — SCO, which today has taken a worthy place in world political reality.
Later, on 15 June 2001, a meeting of Heads of States took place in Shanghai during which a Joint Declaration on the Republic of Uzbekistan’s accession to the ‘Shanghai Five’ was adopted, and a Declaration on the establishment of SCO was signed based on the accumulated experience within the ‘Shanghai Five’.
One of the important steps in the formation and development of SCO was the meeting of the Council of Heads of State in 2005: it took a fundamental decision to grant observer status within the Organization to three major Asian powers — India, Iran and Pakistan. Earlier in 2004, status was granted to Mongolia. The geographical expansion of the Organization made it possible to raise its international significance. Over the years, the organization has granted dialogue partner or observer status to various countries, including in 2009, to Sri Lanka and Belarus; in 2012 to Afghanistan and Turkey; and in 2015 to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal.
Earlier in 2014, India and Pakistan officially applied for SCO membership. This coincided with Tajikistan’s chairmanship in SCO in 2013-2014. The Summit of the Heads of State of the Member States in Dushanbe laid a solid foundation for the elaboration of a legal basis for the procedure for granting the status of SCO Member State.
In 2015, the leaders of SCO countries approved a decision to commence the procedures for admitting India and Pakistan to membership in the Organization. Thus, SCO has promptly evolved from a standard regional organization into a large international organization. Such a rapid expansion of the Organization over just two decades, both in structure and in the variety of activities, demonstrates precision in determining the goals and good intentions of SCO.
This process produced its first results at the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Astana in June 2017. The two largest countries in the region, India and Pakistan, have obtained the status of member states of the Organization. On the other hand, further progress and expansion of SCO depend on many regional and international factors.
This is, primarily, the geopolitical situation in the world, cooperation in matters of regional security and trade and economic development. It would also be appropriate to state that the role of the Republic of Tajikistan, as one of the founders of SCO, is essential in the process of formation and development of the Organization.
Tajikistan chaired the Council of Heads of State in 2008 and 2014, and the Council of Heads of Government of SCO member states in 2006, 2010 and 2018. We will expand our activities within the framework of the Organization and strengthen our relations with its members, continue our joint activities within SCO in the field of countering modern challenges and threats, in particular, terrorism, extremism, illicit drug trafficking and other manifestations of transnational organized crime.
Tajikistan believes that SCO member states should not only preserve the traditions of good-neighborliness but also find new optimal ways to solve existing or emerging problems of a socio-economic nature. To date, our countries have achieved positive results in all these areas. However, in a rapidly changing world, we should not stop there, but move forward and solve topical issues of a political, economic and social nature.
Together we should strive to ensure security in the region and the peaceful coexistence of all countries of the world.
In 2020, the presidency of the Organization was handed to the Republic of Tajikistan. Accordingly, the Jubilee Summit of the Heads of SCO States will be held in Dushanbe on 16-17 September 2021. This is very significant since the initial decision to establish SCO was taken in the capital of our country.
We are confident that after celebrating its anniversary, SCO will continue to be an active structure, an effective platform for exchanging views, developing common positions and agreeing on various points of view, and will also improve its policy following the demands of the times.
SCO’s activities fully comply with the basic principles of the foreign policy strategy of our state. We are interested in further strengthening its role in solving the key tasks of strengthening peace and security, expanding trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian ties. In conclusion, I would like to note that from the very beginning of its foundation, SCO has been striving to establish fair international relations.
Twenty years of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s activity, which coincided with a very difficult period in international relations, have shown that the Organization has become a real force in the arena of global politics.
SCO member states have achieved a high degree of cooperation and trust in resolving the issues of policy, economy and security. Annual meetings at different levels not only provide an opportunity for a timely solution of urgent problems, but also provide quick responses in the rapidly changing world. All these indicate that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, at the origin of which was also our State, is indeed a very promising structure both in the regional and the global scale.