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SCO Summit brings Kazakhstan to center of world stage
June 10, 2017, 3:26 pm
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Central Asia has rarely been at the center of geopolitics, but last week the world wound its way to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, for not one, but three important global events.

First was the opening of the 17th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, which was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, host-nation’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with nearly two dozen fellow world leaders.

Concurrent with the opening of SCO Summit was the inauguration of World Expo 2017, which brought together pavilions from more than 100 countries, where representatives would be presenting the best that their nations offered to millions of visitors over the next three months.

Also slated to take place this week in Astana is the next round of the Syrian Peace Talks that aims to bring about a resolution to a conflict that has raged on mercilessly for the last six years.

The rapid pace of events unfolding in the Kazakh capital has reinforced the country’s growing influence on the global arena, where last week Kazakhstan assumed the rotation presidency of the United Nations Security Council. Kazakhstan says that it is leading not just for itself but on behalf of a broader regional and international community.

This view was reiterated at the end of the SCO Summit when Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said, "We discussed the current state of affairs, further steps to promote comprehensive cooperation, as well as current international issues related to the activities of the SCO. I am sure that the exchange of views that took place, as well as the initiatives and proposals put forward, will find practical application taking into account the interests of our countries. Such an approach will strengthen relations within the SCO and will help to increase the effectiveness of the Organization's activities."

At the conclusion of their summit on Friday, the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and newly joined members India and Pakistan, strongly condemned all forms of terrorism and agreed to jointly fight international terrorism.

A statement released on behalf of the leaders said that they stand firmly against linking terrorism with any religion, and condemn all intolerant, discriminatory and violent activities against religious people.

The organization stressed the core coordination role of the United Nations and its Security Council in the fight against international terrorism and in international anti-terrorism cooperation, saying the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, as well as norms of international laws, should be strictly observed.

The leaders warned against the propaganda and instigation of terrorism and extremism through the internet, as well as the recruitment activity for such purposes, calling for comprehensive measures to combat the spread of terrorist and extremist thoughts.

The SCO leaders reiterated the prohibition against undermining state sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity, the prohibition against intervening in domestic affairs, saying that there is no tolerance for using terrorist or extremist groups for political or geopolitical purposes.

The SCO leaders reiterated to jointly fight all types of terrorist and extremist organizations listed by any SCO member.

With the accession of India and Pakistan at the 17th SCO summit in Astana, the SCO now covers three-fifths of Eurasia, has nearly half the world population and nearly 20 percent of the global GDP. Since its inception in 2001, the SCO has played an exemplary role in building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation. As a driving force in regional security and stability, the SCO has made security cooperation a priority.

The expansion from six to eight members will further improve its potential for cooperation and representation and boost international security and stability. The expansion also indicates that the 'Shanghai Spirit', which created the organization in the first place, has been recognized by more and more countries and that it has a bigger appeal in regional cooperation.

Speaking at his first SCO summit meeting after India’s membership, Prime Minister Modi thanked the leaders for accepting India’s membership and said that India is prepared and committed to creating an active and positive partnership with SCO. Calling terrorism a major threat to humanity, the Indian premier added, “Terrorism is one of the biggest violators of human rights and human values. We will have to make coordinated efforts to counter the menace of terrorism.”

We have extensive cooperation with SCO nations and we want to deepen this by focusing on connectivity with respect for sovereignty and regional integrity, as well as inclusivity and sustainability, said the Indian premier. 

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