Shanghai Cooperation Organization and security problems in Central Asia
The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure as organ of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which serves to promote cooperation of member states against of terrorism, separatism. The role of Russia in settlement of military conflicts in Central Asia.
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The interest in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is because this forum for cooperation between Russia, China and countries of Central Asia (CA) already filled a unique niche in the system of international relations in Eurasia, the Organization gradually expands its sphere of activities, and intensifies the cooperation in many areas. Even though in the beginning the “shanghai Five” were oriented primarily towards the military dimension of security (settlement of border issues, demilitarization of border areas, etc.), SCO, created in 2001, currently deals with a broad spectrum of political, economic, social, and humanitarian issues. Although progress in some fields of cooperation within the SCO could possibly be more visible and intensive, a lot was done in the ten years of existence of the Organization.
The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the SCO, which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of Terrorism, Separatism, Extremism.
The Head of RATS is elected to a three-year term. Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS.
At the Dushanbe summit, members agreed to "oppose intervention in other countries' internal affairs on the pretexts of 'humanitarianism' and 'protecting human rights; and support the efforts of one another in safeguarding the five countries' national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and social stability." In 2001, the annual summit returned to Shanghai. There the five member nations first admitted Uzbekistan in the Shanghai 5 (Five) mechanism (thus transforming it into the Shanghai 6 (Six)). Then all six heads of state signed on 15 June 2001, the Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, praising the role played thus far by the Shanghai Five mechanism and aiming to transform it to a higher level of cooperation. On 16 July 2001, Russia and the PRC, the organization's two leading nations, signed the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation.
In June 2002, the heads of the SCO member states met in Saint Petersburg, Russia. There they signed the SCO Charter, which expounded on the organization's purposes, principles, structures and form of operation, and established it in international law.
Its six full members account for 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a quarter of the worlds. With observer states included, its affiliates account for about half of the world's population.
In July 2005, at its fifth and watershed summit in Astana (Kazakhstan) with representatives of India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan attending an SCO summit for the first time, the president of the host country, Nursultan Nazarbayev, greeted the guests in words that had never before been used in any context: "The leaders of the states sitting at this negotiation table are representatives of half of humanity".
By 2007, the SCO had initiated over twenty large-scale projects related to transportation, energy and telecommunications and held regular meetings of security, military, defense, foreign affairs, economic, cultural, banking and other officials from its member states.
In addition, the anniversary summit in Astana on 15 June 2011 outlined new horizon of cooperation and identified concrete measures for reinforcing its activity.
In 2013, was organized the study in a way allowing tracking the SCO creation and evolution, to outline the main aspects of its activity, to comprehend the ways in which China, Russia, and other countries of Central Asia approach the Organization, to define its role in providing regional security, and to explore the energy track in its activity. My course work is mostly based on this study, which was conducted in the framework of a joint project with the Belarusian State University in Minsk. Individual experts were attracted, as well as the Kazakh institute for Strategic Studies (KISS). Presented to the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF, www.dcaf.ch)
Currently, SCO comprises six member countries - its founders: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. SCO is Eurasian political, economic and military organization, which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries, except for Uzbekistan had been members of the Shanghai 5 (Five), founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organization. On July 10, 2015, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members, and they are expected to join by 2016.
India and Pakistan are Acceding States their Membership approved on July 2015. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia are the Observer States. Dialogue partners are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey. ASEAN, CIS and Turkmenistan attend only as a guest.
The organization is not closed. The opportunity for including new members was provide in Par. 7 of the declaration, and the mechanism of acceptance explained in detail in Article 13 of the SCO Charter.
At the same time, as noted in the doctrine, the attitude of the SCO member states to its enlargement in quite different. The largest members of the Organization (Russia and China) claim that such a move is premature. References made to the absence of mechanisms regulating the interaction between the countries that make up the core of SCO, the lack of clear parameters for the admission of new members, and unclear “benefits” for the SCO member countries from the enlargement.
Main Focus of activities.
The objectives of SCO are stipulated in its founding documents (Declaration, Par. 2; SCO Charter, Art. 1, 3) and include:
· Strengthening of mutual trust, friendship and good neighborliness between member states;
· Promoting effective cooperation between them in the political, commercial and economic, scientific and technical, cultural, educational, energy, transport, environmental and other areas;
· Joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region, the construction of a new democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.
In practice, the main focus to date has been on the maintenance of international peace and security and the fight against modern challenges and threats, primarily against international terrorist, separatism and extremism.
In order to combat these phenomena, simultaneously with the adoption of the declaration, the Shanghai Convention on combating terrorism, separatism, and extremism was signed on 15 June 2001, setting out the basic principles of cooperation between the countries in this area. Including information exchange, requests for search operations, development of common and coordinated measures to prevent and suppress illegal activities, exchange of experience, information, regulations, etc. (Par. 6). The Convention, referring to ten of the 16 major universal documents on combatting terrorism, provides a definition of terrorism (Par. 1 (1)), and regulates the issues of cooperation in combating separatism and extremism.
It is also significant that the only permanent non-administrative body of SCO - RATS - was established to coordinate the activities in this particular area. In addition to coordinating the work, RATS provides information to member states and creates a database of terrorist organizations and terrorist linked with terrorist activities, and accumulates information on the status, dynamics and trends in the spread of terrorism, affecting member states.
It should be note that the SCO Convention against terrorism demonstrates the desire of member states to deepen their cooperation in this field. It not only provides a definition of terrorism, but also defines the principles of jurisdiction with regard to acts of terrorism (Article 5), establishes the duty of the national law to criminalize terrorist acts and offences which have been recognized as criminal by universal counter-terrorism convention (Article 9), and defines the principles of responsibility of legal entities involved in terrorist activities (Article 10). In this case, the convention may be considered as the basis for extradition with regard to offences covered by the Convention, may determine the form of the request for information or apply measures and other responsibilities.
Other documents signed within the framework of SCO with the purpose to maintain international peace and security are related to the fight against illicit trafficking of weapons, ammunition and explosives, narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors13, training and qualification of customs offices, joint exercises and information security.
In the period 8-14 June 2012, joint anti-terrorist exercises “Peace Mission 2012” were conducted on the territory of Tajikistan with the participants of troops from Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
Signed on 16 August 2007, the treaty on long-term good relations, friendship and cooperation of SCO member states17 was also directed primarily to the proclamation of the basic principles of peace and security in the region (Art. 2-11). Parties also expressed readiness to develop cooperation in all spheres, including economy, trade, finance, environment, industry, law, agriculture, energy, transport, information, telecommunications, aviation, space, culture, art, education, science, innovation, technology, health care, tourism, sport and others (Art. 13-19). At the same time, just a few treaties, detailing the obligations of cooperation outside the military-political sphere, have been signed within the framework of SCO to date, namely the agreements on cooperation in the fields of education18 and in agreeculture.
The declaration on the establishment of SCO does not consolidate the precise structure of the SCO organs; it provides only for the conduct of annual meeting of Heads of State, regular meeting of the Heads of Government, the establishment of the Council of National Coordinators and possibility of creating other mechanisms (Par. 3, 11). The system of authorities in SCO was regulated in detail in the SCO Charter, and the provisions of the main bodies of the SCO were approved by the Council of Heads of State of the SCO, dated 29 May 2003.
According to Art. 4 of the Charter, SCO bodies are:
· The council of Heads of State is the supreme body of the SCO, which convenes annually (SCO Charter, Art. 5);
· The Council of Heads of Governments is responsible in the first place for the budget and economic issues and convenes ones a year (SCO charter, Art. 6);
· The Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs examines current issues in the work of the SCO (SCO Charter, Art. 7);
· The Council of national Coordinators coordinates and manages the current activities of the SCO (coordination of cooperation and interaction of relevant ministers and governmental institutions). The Council meets three times a year (SCO Charter, Art. 9, Declaration, Paragraph 11);
· RATS is a permanent body of the SCO whose mission is to coordinate the fight against international terrorism, separatism and extremism (SCO Charter, Art. 10; RATS Agreement, Art. 3,6). Located in Bishkek (RATS Agreement, Art. 2);
· Secretariat - a permanent administrative organ of the SCO, Located in Beijing (SCO Charter, Art. 11).
Based on the decisions of the Council of Heads of SCO member states, three nongovernmental agencies were created to enhance cooperation in the field of economy and education, namely the SCO Interbank Association (2005), which includes the Kazakhstan Development Bank, China Development Bank, the Russian Vnesheconombank, the National Bank of Tajikistan the National Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs of Uzbekistan; the SCO Business Council (2006), bringing together representatives of the business community of the Member States22; and the SCO Forum (2006) - a multilateral public consultation and expert mechanism, which includes research institutions of the Member States (the institute for Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of Uzbekistan, institute of Strategic Analysis and Evolution of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, China institute of International Studies, the International Institute for Modern Politics (Kazakhstan), the Centre for East Asian studies and SCO at the Moscow State institute for International Relations (University) - MFA of Russia, and the Centre for Strategic Studies under the President of Tajikistan).
Cooperation with other countries and international organizations.
The SCO constituent documents provide several mechanisms of cooperation with states and international organizations. Already in the Declaration, Member States Expressed Their Willingness to develop “dialogue, exchanges and cooperation in all forms with other countries and relevant international and regional organizations” (Par. 7). In addition to interest in cooperation, Art. 14 of the SCO Charter provides the possibility to grant states and international organizations the status of an observer or a dialogue partner.
Similarly, the Council of Heads of State of SCO approves the adoption of new members and the decision to grant the state or an international organization the status of an observer or dialogue partner after the proposal of the Council of Foreign Ministers (SCO Charter, Art. 13. Regulations on the Observer status at the SCO, Par. 1-627; regulations on the Status of a Dialogue Partner of the SCO, Par. 2.128).
Unlike other organizations operating in the CIS, the legal status of observers and dialogue partners in SCO regulated in detail. Observers have the right to:
1) Attend open meetings and meeting of heads of ministries and/or state agencies of SCO member states;
2) Participate, without right to vote, and with the prior consent of the presiding officer - in the discussion on matters within the competence of the SCO, distribute though the SCO Secretary written applications in the working languages of SCO countries on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the SCO;
3) Obtain access to the documents and decisions of the SCO bodies referred to in Art.4 of the Charter;
If the respective SCO authorities do not impose restrictions on their distribution (Regulations of observer status at the SCO, Paragraph 7). At the same time, the observer status does not give the right to participate in the preparation and signing of documents of the Organization. Observers do not participate in the decision-making process in SCO bodies and are not responsible for such decisions (Paragraph 8). Thus, in general, the legal status of the SCO observer corresponds to that in other international organizations.
The notion of a dialogue partner is not common in international law. In essence, this category is similar to the status of observer, however not in the organizations as a whole, but only for some of its bodies, depending on the selected areas of cooperation (see Regulations, Par. 1.2, 2.2). Consequently, the rights of the partner in dialogue regarding participation in meetings, presentations and access to documents are limited to meetings among specific ministries of agencies (Regulations, Par. 2.2).
At the same time, SC collaborates with international organizations in other forms. To date, it has established partnerships with the UN, CIS, CSTO, EurAsEC, ASEAN, ESCAP and UES.
Thus, on 2 December 2004 the Geneva Assembly of the United Nations granted SCO the observer status (resolution 59/4830). In 2009 and 2010, the General Assembly adopted resolutions on the issue of cooperation with the SCO (resolutions 64/183 of 18 December 200931, and 65/124 of 13 December 201032) in which it commends the work of SCO in the area of security in its various aspects (including military and political), and emphasizes the need for regular contacts between the various bodies of the UN and the SCO, including participation of the SCO in the annual summits at the level of UN Secretary-General and the Secretaries General of regional organizations of collective security (resolution 63/128, Par. 2, resolution 64/124, Par. 3).
3. The issue of Security in the SCO
The group of “Shanghai Five” was formed based on agreements on confidence-building measures in the military field and mutual reduction of armed forces in the border area signed in Shanghai and Moscow respectively in 1996 and 1997. In accordance with the agreement on mutual reduction of armed forces in the border area, the member states of the “Shanghai Five” committed themselves to set limits on the number of personnel, weapons and military equipment in the military units located in the geographic area (100 km from the border). In addition, this agreement also provided for the establishment of Joint Control Group, which followed an annual plan for inspection in the military units located in this geographical area.1 thus, the issues of military security played a fundamental role in the development of the SCO.
Later, cooperation in the framework of the Organization spread to the political, trade, economic, cultural, scientific, technical and other spheres, and the problem of military security lost its exceptional significance over time. Nevertheless, even today the SCO consistently advocates for the creation of a stable security system within the area of its responsibility that would consider the interests and approaches of all the participants.
The declaration on the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, signed on 15 June 2001, specifies “joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region as one of the purposes of the Organization.”
The document emphasizes that the SCO member states firmly comply with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the principles of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, equal and mutual benefit, the resolution of all issues through mutual consultations, non-interference in internal affairs, non-use of force on threat of force, rejection of unilateral military superiority in contiguous areas.
The participating States have committed to work closely together to implement the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism of 15 June 2001, including through the establishment of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). In addition, it was decided to sign relevant multilateral agreements on cooperation in combating illicit trafficking of arms and drugs, illegal migration and other types of criminal activity.
These objectives and principles in the work of SCO in the security area confirmed in the Charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, adopted in St. Petersburg on 7 June 2002. The position of SCO on regional and international security was specified and supplemented with new theses and scenarios in the subsequent documents.
Thus, the Declaration of the heads of SCO Member States, adopted at the meeting in Astana on July 5, 2005, stated the need to unite the efforts of the SCO member states to effectively counter new challenges and threats to international and regional security and stability.
Such cooperation should be of comprehensive nature and promote reliable defense of the territories, populations, critical infrastructure and key infrastructure of the Member States from the devastating impact of the new threats and challenges, creating the necessary conditions for sustainable development of the SCO.3 cooperation should include the development of close collaboration between foreign, foreign economic, law enforcement, intelligence and defense agencies of the Member States; the active use of the mechanism of meetings of Secretaries of Security Council of the participating countries; the development of effective measures and mechanisms for joint response of SCO to situations that threaten the peace, security and stability in the region; joint planning and conduct of anti-terrorist activities; the harmonization of natural legislations on security issues; cooperation in the development and use of modern technical equipment used in the fight against new challenges and threats; the formation of an effective mechanism for information counteraction against new challenges and threats; training of personnel to solve problems in the field of security in the SCO.
The SCO member states committed themselves to terminate on their territories all attempts to prepare and carry out acts of terrorism, including those directed against the interests of other states, not to grant asylum to persons accused or suspected of terrorist, separatist and extremist activities. Moreover, to hand over such persons if asked by another state of the SCO in strict accordance with the laws of the Member States.
The SCO member states consistently and firmly believed that the fight against terrorism should be based on the norms and principles of international law and should not be identified with the struggle against any religion, country and nationalities.
In the fight against international terrorism, the SCO announced its intention to solve the problems associated with the liquidation of its resources, especially by combating illicit trafficking in arms, ammunition, explosives and drugs, organized cross-border crime, illegal migration and mercenary. According to the declared position of the SCO member states, special attention should be given to preventing the use of components of weapons of mass destruction and the means for their delivery by terrorists. regional shanghai cooperation terrorism
The SCO member states believed that the security of Central Asia was inextricably linked to the prospects of the peace process in Afghanistan. The y repeatedly stated their support for the efforts of the international coalition conducting anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. As it is well known, some SCO member states provided their ground infrastructure for temporary development of military contingents from the Coalition countries, and their territory and airspace for military transit in the interests of the anti-terrorist operation. In addition, the Declaration fro the SCO summit in Astana in July 2005 included the following position, which resonated with the international community at that time: “Given the completion of the active military phase of the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan, the Member States of Shanghai Cooperation Organization consider it necessary that the relevant members of the anti-terrorist coalition decide on the territories of the SCO member states.” This formulation was received with concern by the United States and its allies who were actively involved in the military operation in Afghanistan. However, no immediate practical steps were taken to implement the official position of the SCO at the time.
The Declaration on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, accepted in Shanghai on 15 June 2006, stressed that the SCO would make a constructive contribution to the creation of a “global structure of a new type”, the core of which would be mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and mutual respect, compliance with the generally recognized norms of international law excluding “double standards”, settlement of disputes through negotiations based on mutual understanding, respect for the right of each State to guarantee its integrity and protect its national interests, independence in choosing their own path of development and building their internal and foreign policy, participation in international affairs on an equal footing.5 this approach, often referred to as the “Shanghai spirit”, is treated as innovation in contemporary international relations and international security.
At the meeting of the Heads of States of SCO member states on the fifth anniversary it was noted that the SCO has the potential to play in “independent role in maintaining stability and security in its area of responsibility.” In this regard, it was stated that in case of extraordinary events that threaten the peace, security and stability in this region, the SCO member states would immediately contact and consult each other on the operational joint response in order to protect the interests of the organization as a whole, as well as its Member States to a maximum extent. It was considered appropriate to examine the possibility of establishing within the SCO a mechanism for prevention of regional conflicts.
Promoting cooperation in the security area, Member States consistently emphasized that joint efforts in this area and strengthening the Organization's capacity to provide security and stability did not mean a step toward the creation of a military-political bloc or a closed alliance.
Since 2003, meetings of defense ministers of the SCO member states were held on a regular basis to discuss the further development of cooperation in the field of defense and security and exchange of information on the situation in the SCO zone of responsibility. These meetings approved a number of documents, the most important of which are the Agreement between the SCO member states on conducting joint military exercises (27 June 2007), the Agreement on cooperation between the defense ministries of the SCO Member States (15 may 2008), and a Plan for cooperation between defense ministries in the SCO member states for 2010-2011. It shall be noted that on 29 April 2009 at a meeting of SCO defense ministries in Moscow, the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Republic of Uzbekistan, R.S. Niyazov, stated it was not necessary to develop the military component of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as, in his opinion, the SCO Charter provided for the development of cooperation only in the economic, social and cultural spheres. In connection with this position, R.S. Niyazov, in his capacity of the leader of the Uzbek delegation, did not sign the Plan for cooperation between the defense ministries of the SCO member states for 2010-2011. The documents of general political nature reflected to a certain extent the attitude of the Organization to some key issues of international security and arms control. The SCO member states believed that globalization not only did not decrease, but also, on the contrary, on many ways increased the role of such factors as the maintenance and strengthening of strategic stability, including the issue of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In the field of nuclear non-proliferation they consistently called for strict compliance with the provisions of SCO documents reflected on the current problems of the deployment of U.S. global missile defense. At the tenth meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States on June 10-11, 2010 in Tashkent, it was stated that “the uncontrolled deployment of a global missile defense system, as well as the danger of disposition of weapons in the outer space, could become a source of destabilization of the international situation an lead to the spread and rise of missile weapons in different parts of the world.”
In the Resolution of the SCO activities, including those in the field of security, were summed up in Astana Declaration of 15 June 2011 on the occasion of SCO tenth anniversary. It was noted that during the ten-year period the SCO had become “a universally recognized and respected multilateral organization that actively promoted peace and development in the region, and effectively resisted challenges and threats.”
At the meeting in Astana, the heads of the SCO member states stated that effective cooperation existed within the organization in the security field, focused on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, drug trafficking and arms trafficking, and transnational organized crime. In support of this thesis, it was pointed out that the SCO had set up mechanism of regular meetings between the Security Council secretaries, attorneys general, judges, ministers of defense and emergencies situations, ministers of the interior and public security, leaders of anti-drug agencies that address current issues related to the joint struggle against new challenges and threats.
The Astana Declaration outlined the following priorities: “building security for all states without any exception, cooperation and prosperity based on the understanding of current realities in the absence of attempts to manage their own security at the expense of others.”10 the thesis of the indivisibility of security, as known, was the backbone of the Russia initiative, formulated by President D.A. Medvedev in 2008 in the context of the need to update the Euro-Atlantic security architecture.
The meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States on June 6-7, 2012 in Beijing approved a new version of the Regulations on Political and Diplomatic Measures and Mechanism of SCO response to situations that present a threat to peace, security and stability in the region, and the Program for cooperation of SCO member states to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism for 2013-2015, which expanded the legal basis for cooperation of Member States in the field of security.
It should be stressed that the SCO has no symptoms or characteristics of a military-political bloc, it does not intend to become an alliance with a strong military component, and the interaction between the defense departments is focused exclusively on anti-terrorist activities. According to its stated position, SCO activities are inconsistent with the ideological and confrontational approaches to topical issues of international and regional development. This, according to the national coordinator of the Russian Federation in the SCO, K. Barsky, is “a new world in global politics.” According to this perspective, SCO is an example that non-bloc associations are able to provide international security.
It has been confirmed that this paradigm has important conceptual importance as globalization objectively determines the diminishing role of military force in world politics, bringing to the force factors such as international cooperation, economic feasibility, “soft power” etc. Accordingly, the new architecture of security in Eurasia, as well as in other parts of the world, should be equitable, transparent, based on legal and accountable principles, and the non-bloc legitimate security interests of all states.
The Russian researcher D. Zhirnov shares a similar view. He believes that the “Shanghai process” is “a movement towards the formation of a pluralistic security community on the Asian continent, in which the maintenance of the military-political stability rests on multilateral negotiation mechanisms. This is its main difference from the amalgamated security infrastructure, characterized by the presence of formal centralized institutions of response.”12 D. Zhirnov, in our view, rightly believes that in this geopolitically diverse region with many “burning coals” of interstate and internal contradictions, the idea of a region-wide “hard” security system (in the form of military and political alliances) could hardly find effective approval.
As for the SCO area of responsibility, it can be concluded that to date, the full-scale cooperation in the SCO regional security is focused on the fight against such threats and challenges as international terrorism, separatism and extremism, and drug trafficking. In this particular direction the Organization was able to advance forward, to take specific steps and measures, including joint exercises, which suggests the presence of SCO own potential in the area of regional security.
In accordance with SCO Charter, the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism of 15 June 2001 became a permanent body of the Organization in the field of anti-terrorism with headquarters in Tashkent. In October 2003, the governing body of the structure, RATS Council, began its work. Within the framework of RATS, specific action plans were developed and a number of legal documents were approved to ensure its effective operation, to give a systematic and deliberate nature of the interaction within the SCO framework for the implementation of the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism.
It is interesting to mention that SCO countries established the practice of conducting joint antiterrorist exercises. In October 2002, bilateral anti0terrist exercises were held within the participation of China and Kyrgyzstan. In August 2003, the first joint anti-terrorist military exercises “Interaction-2003” were held, where 1300 troops from five countries (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) took part. They were conducted in two phases, first in Kazakhstan, then - in the People Republic of China (PRC).
In the period 9-17 August 2007, China and Russia hosted the anti-terrorist command post exercise (CPE) “Peace Mission 2007.” The first phase of the CPE took place in China, and the second (active phase of the exercise involving troops and military equipment) - in Russia, in the Volga-Urals Military District. Over 7,500 troops and more than 1,200 pieces of weapons and military equipment were used on Chebarkul range (Chelyabinsk region).
During the active phase of the exercise, the following units showed their level of training: 34th Infantry Division from the Volga-Urals Military District, the army and tactical aviation of the 5th Army Air Force and Air Defense, units from the Airborne Troops, as well as the troops from the Interior Ministry, the Border Service and other law enforcement agencies of Russia, more than 1,700 Chinese soldiers, 100 soldiers and officers from the armies of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, and special forces squad with 30 soldiers from Kyrgyzstan.
The anti-terrorist exercises “Nurek-Anti-terror 2009” were conducted from 6 to 19 April 2009 at the high range Fakhrabad, located near the Tajik town of Nurek, to coordinate and work out cooperation between the armed forces of the SCO member states in resisting terrorist attacks. Special forces from 5 countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia and Tajikistan)15 were involved in the final stage of the exercise.
In September 2010, anti-terrorist command post exercise “Peace Mission-2010” took place in Kazakhstan (Training Ground “Matybulak” in Zhambyl region) under the aegis of the SCO. More than 6,000soldiers and over 1,500 pieces of weapons and military equipment were involved on the exercise. For two weeks, troops of SCO member states worked out issues of command and control, security and interaction during the antiterrorist operation. it should be noted that during previous joint exercises of this kind the main participants were Russia and Chinese troops and naval forces with tactical and strategic aircraft from the Armed Forces of Russia and the PRC. This time, except for the Russia and Chinese units, other countries also took part.
In the framework of the SCO RATS Council decision of 23 September 2010, from 5 to 8 May 2011 the city of Kashgar, Xinjiang hosted joint anti-terrorism drills “Tianshan-2-2001” of the special services and law enforcement agencies of the SCO. The event was attended by the Director of the RATS D. Jumanbekov, Deputy Secretary General of the SCO Hong Jiuyin, heads of anti-terrorist agencies of the SCO member states, as well as representatives from the SCO observer states - India, Pakistan and Mongolia.
Joint anti-terrorist military exercises “Peace Mission-2012” were conducted in the period 8-14 June 2012 in Tajikistan. They involved over two thousand soldiers and officers from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A joint military operation took place on June 14 on the range “Chorukh-Dayron” in the Soughd region in Tajikistan.
Joint anti-terrorist military exercises “Peace Mission-2014” were conducted in the period 24-29 August in China's Inner Mongolia province. About 7, 000 troops took a part: mostly from China, but also from SCO members Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. (Uzbekistan, while an SCO member, traditionally declines to participate in the group's military drills).
How effective and efficient are collaboration and cooperation in the anti-terrorist sphere within the SCO? Official data can actually be impressive. The Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Security Service, S. Smirnov announced that only in 2008, thanks to the joint efforts of the SCO anti-terrorist structures more than 100 terrorist-related crimes were prevented, out of which more than 50 were planned to take place in crowded places.
“In 2008, S. Smirnov said, as a result of joint action of the power structures, 429 improvised explosive devices, 2.2 tonnes of explosives and 2.3 tonnes of toxic chemical agents were confiscated on the territory of SCO member states. Due to the rapid exchange of information between SCO members, 180 training camps for terrorists were located and destroyed, more than 500 militants were detained, and a large quantity of arms and ammunition was seized”.
Attention was drawn to enhancing the cooperation in the fight against illicit trafficking of drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, in accordance with the Agreement on cooperation in combating illicit trafficking of drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors of 17 June 2004.
SCO announced its readiness to actively participate in the international efforts to build anti-drug belt around Afghanistan in the development and implementation of special programmes of assistance to Afghanistan in order to stabilize the socio-economic and humanitarian situation.
In 2003, Afghanistan became the world's monopolist in the production of heroin. The centers for processing extracted opium into morphine, and then into heroin are located in the provinces of Paktia, Helmand, Kunar, Balkh, and Kunduz. According to the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS), Afghanistan produces 800 tons of heroin annually. About one-third of the heroin goes along the so-called northern route - through the Central Asian states to Russia and beyond. The cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan in the past ten years, I.e. during the period of the Anti-Taliban operations, has increased about 40 times.
The Director of the Federal Drug Control Service, Viktor Ivanov, said that only in the past two or three years, more than 225 thousand hectares of land, formerly used for traditional cultures, were sown with poppy.
Russia has been criticized the U.S and its partners for a long time for not taking enough, from her point of view, measures to eliminate poppy cultivation and drug laboratories in Afghanistan. The U.S. and NATO argue in response that the eradication of the crops could turn the local population against the coalition and strengthen the position of the Taliban's. Thus, NATO official representative James Appathurai rejected the Russian proposal for a large-scale destruction of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan by spraying pesticides. The alliance continues to hold the position that the issue of drug production in the country needs to be addressed very carefully in order not to lose the loyalty of local residents, for many of which growing opium poppy is essentially the only source of income.
A strong impetus to work together to fight drug trafficking is given by the Anti-drug strategy for 2011-2016 \ and the programme for its implementation approved by SCO members states at the anniversary summit in Astana (15 June 2011). The cooperation between the SCO Secretariat and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will open addition capabilities in countering the drug threat. To this end, a Memorandum of understanding was prepared and signed in Astana by SCO Secretary General, M.S. Imanaliyev, and UN Deputy Secretary General, Director of UNODC Y.V. Fedotov.
At the anniversary summit in Astana on June 15, 2011, the heads of the SCO member states formulated a number of interesting ideas and initiatives aimed at strengthening the potential of the security sector. Thus, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan N., in particular, proposed to set up a meeting to resolve the territorial and regional conflicts that would draw up preventive measures in potential “hot spots” in SCO area of responsibility. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stressed the need for development of SCO potential in ensuring regional security, strengthening of the financial base and the staff of the RATS, increasing efforts to combat drug trafficking and cyber threats. Chinese President Hu Jintao proposed the creation of an enhanced system of cooperation in regional security by strengthening the capacity of rapid response of the SCO and the development of mechanisms of cooperation in energy, financial and food security.
However, in general, the role of the SCO as a tool for regional security and its potential in this dimension should not be exaggerated. As Yu. A. Nikitina rightly observed, SCO “is currently focused on addressing the general political and economic issues and has no practical joint mechanisms and structures to respond to security threats.” in addition, her belief that in order to improve the effectiveness of regional security cooperation, we can talk about “bringing together the CSTO and SCO, including the creation of a coalition between CSTO and SCO to address specific issues relate d to the fight against new challenges and threats,” looks, perhaps, overly optimistic and this scenario is hardly possible in the foreseeable future.
Without the presence of a significant military component no special rapid reaction forces or peacekeeping forces of the SCO could become an influential factor in the field of security. If the SCO really intends to prepare for an adequate response to non-traditional threats to security in this area of responsibility, it is obvious that there is no other way but to enhance the interoperability of units of Mmember States through joint exercises, constantly improving their scenario and learning tasks.
Apparently, the role of SCO in the region will increase as a result of the planned withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan by 2014. In June 22, 2011 U.S. President Barack Obama announces that by mid-2012 33,00 U.S. troops are expected to leave Afghanistan (about as many as Obama sent to go to Afghanistan in late 2009 as part of his new Afghan strategy). The remaining 66,000 U.S. soldiers will leave gradually until the end of 2014, while the share of Special Operation Forces SOF0 will significantly increase.
The plan of current U.S. administration envisage training and assisting the Afghan security forces in controlling the situation in the country on their own and a gradual return of U.S. soldiers back home. These plans, however, may not be realized for various reasons: the obvious weakness of the central Afghan government, the lack of operational effectiveness and lack of training of the national army and police, serious ethnic tensions, deep corruption at high authority levels, etc. The deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of International Security Forces in Afghanistan (ISAF) can have the most negative impact on regional security. In this case, the SCO will probably not stay aside, although it is possible that the organization will confine itself only to statements and declarations. In October 2014, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said bluntly that the Americans will remain in the country and after the official withdrawal of NATO troops, scheduled for 2014.
“while some people way have heard that we leave Afghanistan in 2014, in fact we're going to be here for a long time yet”, - he stressed.
It is typical that, as stated at the international conference “Security and Stability in Central Asia after the withdrawal of ISAF troops from Afghanistan in 2014,” held in Dushanbe on September 29, 2011, the positions of the SCO member states on the Afghan issue have not been coordinated yet. Each state has its own view on the issue of resolving the situation in Afghanistan, and it does not match other positions.
On 27 November in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, UNRCCA hosted the annual meeting of deputy foreign ministers from the region aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and discussing how UNRCAA can best assist countries in addressing security threats. Topics discussed included the fight against translational crime, the situation in Afghanistan, the management of water and energy resources, environmental security and main priorities for cooperation in 2016.
In general, it could be concluded that the potential of SCO to promote regional security has not been implemented yet. The organization certainly has its own place in the architecture of regional security and the very fact of its existence helps stabilize the situation in Central Asia; however, in our opinion it is likely that it will play a much more sustainable role.
Looking back over the SCO's evolution, it is important not to overstate or discount the progress it has made. From the moment the SCO acquired an institutional framework, it has been a narrowly focused organization with limited ability to shape the regional situation.
However, it has elaborated an approach to problem solving, made steady progress on institution building, and achieved some results in the spheres of con?dense building and preventive diplomacy. This progress runs counter to claims that the SCO lacks an international identity in global politics.
We must begin with the rationale behind the establishment of the organization. In addition to the Declaration on the establishment and the SCO Charter, it is important to mention the Convention on combating terrorism, extremism and separatism. This document is a proof that the concept of a structure for regional security was completely defined. For this particular reason, the history of the creation of the SCO actually started in 1998, when important events took place that shaped the political landscape of the region and the world at large. In 200, it became clear that the threat of radical Islam in Central Asia was immediate and direct. Despite the fact that the SCO was found almost three month before September 11, 2001, in our opinion it creation was not in anticipation of events, but a belated reaction in a strategic sense. This “lagging behind” was the result of objective factors, such as complexities of economic nature, week politic systems, and limitations of an international and legal character.
The events in 2001 significantly changed the plans of the SCO. The initial motivation was, in fact, impaired. Until 2003, work in the Organization was stagnant. Participating countries had to define their interests in the geopolitical shift in the region. For China, in particular, the late 1990s and early 2000s presented a dilemma between the possibility to get acces to the “vacant” region, and a threat to the stability of the situation in the north-west of the country. In the end, China made its choice in favor of promoting the country's interests in the form of “soft power”, the economic link between Central Asia and China. A number of factors facilitated the process: the problem of security was partially removed from the agenda due to the direct involvement of NATO countries in the anti-terrorist operations and the establishment of peace in Afghanistan, as well as a sharp jump in the price of minerals and the anti-Iraq campaign in 2003. Therefore, the attention of Beijing focused on Central Asian oil and gas fields.
On the contrary, the interest of Russia were more of political and military nature. Their consent to the deployment of NATO military bases in Central Asia was dictated by the scale of the threat of terrorism and radical Islam, not only to the southern republics of the CIS, but also to Russia itself. Therefore, Moscow's “drift” to the West in the early 2000s impeded the development of cooperation in the SCO until 2003-2004. The rise of the Russian level of well-being due to profits from mineral exports between 2003 and the second Chechen campaign, as well as the resuscitation of integration plans within the CIS pushed Russia to the military-political revitalization in Central Asia. Given the seriousness of the defense potential and proximity of the security systems of Central Asia and Russia, Moscow had more chances to dominate in this field, as opposed to economic cooperation.
The considerations that initially defined the SCO in the late 1990s (borders, security and Russian-Chinese coordination in Central Asia) are giving way to new ones in the face of a changing international situation. The SCO is entering a new stage of development, which requires a qualitative transformation of its agenda.
It faces several challenges, both immediate and longer term, stemming from both regional problems (Afghanistan's future) and macro-regional changes (the rise of China, growing international competition in Central Asia, the asymmetry of interests within the SCO, internal changes in SCO member states, etc.).
As we know that the main actors of the SCO are China and Russia, till now they are the one who keep peace, and make most of efforts in fighting Terrorism, separatism, and extremism in Central Asia. Joint anti-terrorist military exercises “Peace Mission -2014” in China's inner Mongolia province, where about 7,000 troops took a part from all of SCO members except Uzbekistan, was known as one of the biggest joint anti-terrorist exercises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This military exercises scared the Western countries. In addition, Russia and China are doing their own military exercises each year without the SCO members, which is also good for keeping Central Asian Security. SCO is not the only mechanism of Russia foreign policy in Central Asia, but it is an important one. Russia should seek to advance practical cooperation within the organization as well as its general presence in the region, which is a prerequisite for such cooperation. Russia's progress in Central Asia should not endanger Russian-Chinese relations, which structurally have global significance for Russia....
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