The most anticipated political event of this summer is the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In Astana, on July 3, bilateral negotiations were held between the heads of state members of the organization, who arrived in the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was founded on June 15, 2001, by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. In 2017, India and Pakistan became full members of the SCO. Five years later, Iran was accepted into the organization.


According to open sources, the total territory of the SCO countries is more than 35 million km², that is, most of the Eurasian continent. The total population of the participating countries in 2022 was 3.5 billion people, that is, half the planet.


The main goals of the formation of the SCO are the strengthening of mutual trust, friendship and good neighborliness; strengthening multilateral cooperation in maintaining and strengthening peace, security and stability in the region; jointly countering new challenges and threats; encouraging effective and mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields; promoting economic growth, social and cultural development.


On the sidelines of the last summit, the Republic of Kazakhstan became the chairman of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for the fourth time. Exactly one year later, Kazakhstan welcomes the leaders of the participating countries and observers of the SCO – about ten thousand delegations from all over the world.


Expectations and expert forecasts

Ahead of predictive analytics, it is important to note that this year another partner is joining the SCO – the Republic of Belarus.


Belarus has been participating in the SCO since 2010 as a dialogue partner and since 2015 as an observer. From the beginning of 2022, the procedure for the Republic of Belarus to become a member of the organization began.


«We really hope that Belarus will join the SCO in early July at the summit in Astana. At least, I see that we have fulfilled all our obligations and there are no problems with Belarus’ accession to the SCO today. This is very important for the republic. At such a «more or less specific» international platform, where leading leaders of world powers participate, it is very important for us to be present, from the point of view of image, politics and economics,» said President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko the day before in a dialogue with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov.


According to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Kazakhstan Pavel Utyupin, full membership will allow the republic to a greater extent not only express initiatives, but also implement them together with the participating countries.


«Despite the fact that we were previously in a different status, the head of state constantly came up with initiatives from the Republic of Belarus. They also concerned interaction with international organizations, a large block in the field of economics, food, cybersecurity, and the use of peaceful nuclear energy,» the ambassador added.


Belarus will become the tenth member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.


In 2024, the SCO summit will be held under the theme «Strengthening multilateral dialogue – striving for sustainable peace and development. » Kazakh political scientists, meanwhile, believe that the life of half the Earth (remember, this is how many people inhabit the territories of the SCO countries) may change significantly after the summit.


«Measures to strengthen trade ties and economic cooperation between the participating countries will likely be discussed, which may include the creation of new trade routes, reduction of tariffs and barriers, as well as the development of joint infrastructure projects,» says Alibek Tazhibaev, director of the Eurasian Monitoring Center.


The expert added that in the context of global energy instability, issues of energy security and cooperation in the field of extraction and transportation of resources may become key.


It is worth noting that on the eve of the summit, the Development Bank of Kazakhstan signed agreements with leading Chinese financial institutions to attract long-term funds for the implementation of investment projects in the agricultural sector. Preferential loans of more than 2 billion yuan will be used to finance investment projects such as the restoration of roads of national importance throughout the country, which is expected to accelerate the development of the transport and logistics potential of the regions.


Also, an agreement of intent was signed between DBK and Chinese partners to provide a syndicated loan for a project for the construction of wind power plants with a total capacity of 220 MW in the Akmola region. This is not the first joint project with Chinese investments aimed at a phased transition of the regions of Kazakhstan to the consumption of environmentally friendly electricity. Previously, wind farms appeared in the Zhambyl region.


By the way, about green energy, there is still a possibility that the builders of a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan could also be SCO members – Russia or China, although the list of contenders is somewhat wider.


The leaders of China and Kazakhstan also discussed the development of international trade routes. During a bilateral meeting between President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, the need to intensify cooperation in the field of transport and logistics was noted. In particular, they discussed the implementation and development of the Trans-Caspian international transport route.


«Last year, the volume of rail freight increased by 22 percent and reached 28 million tons. This is a record figure. The transport and logistics potential of our countries has expanded significantly thanks to the implementation of joint projects in the dry ports of Lianyungang, Xi’an and Khorgos – Eastern Gate. The construction of the third Ayagoz-Bakhty railway checkpoint is underway at an active pace,» Tokayev informed.


As political scientist Alibek Tazhibaev emphasized, regional security issues always occupy an important place on the agenda of the SCO summit. The heads of state are expected to discuss measures to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.


At the same time, the summit can touch upon the topics of cultural exchange, education and science, with the aim of strengthening friendly ties between the peoples of the participating countries. Moreover, it is between the SCO member states that the greatest student «mobility» and good neighborly relations in the field of media are noticeable.


According to the expert, improving economic conditions, which will be determined by the outcome of the summit, can lead to an increase in living standards, the creation of new jobs and the development of infrastructure. Improving the level of security can make the lives of citizens more peaceful and secure. Securing the lives of peoples and guaranteeing stability to the population in conditions of strong military tension in several regions of the continent is especially important for citizens of the SCO member countries.


Head of the Asian Studies Department at KazISS Aidar Kurmashev also mentioned that the summit is taking place during a period of significant geopolitical turbulence, which makes it especially relevant.


«We can bring together, for example, disputing states at one negotiating table. For this, the image of the country as a stable state is important, which can provide investors with the necessary stability so that these laws work not only for a couple of years, but also for decades,» he said.


The role of Kazakhstan through the eyes of representatives of the SCO countries


Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Zhang Ming highly appreciated the year of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the organization, noting that since July last year, when the chairmanship of the organization passed to Kazakhstan, Astana has organized over 180 events in various areas.


«During this mission, the Kazakh partners placed special emphasis on the economic, investment, transport and cultural-humanitarian spheres. In our opinion, Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the organization turned out to be very meaningful and interesting. I am confident that with the support of the SCO member states, the Astana summit will be successful and will give new impetus to the organization and will also become another important milestone in its development,» said Zhang Ming.


Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said that during the period of its chairmanship, Kazakhstan has established itself as a «very energetic and proactive» chairman of this organization.


«During the chairmanship of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a number of interesting initiatives were put forward. First of all, I would note those that relate to issues of reforming this organization, increasing the efficiency of quality, and generally modernizing. Since the organization was created quite a long time ago and there is a need to improve certain types of its activities,» the Russian diplomat specified.


Political scientist from Kyrgyzstan Igor Shestakov commented that in the current conditions, when the United Nations no longer plays a decisive role in resolving global conflicts, the decisions of the SCO, in turn, taking into account the composition of the key players, can influence the reduction of the level of global threats.


«From Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who is the most experienced diplomat of all the SCO participants and in the post-Soviet space in general, I think that he and Kazakhstan will come up with initiatives that, first of all, will be related to ensuring regional security, improving the climate and water resources,» says the political scientist.


According to him, the summit is important for Kazakhstan because the event once again emphasizes the weight of the state in the international arena.


«Kazakhstan deserves recognition because the implementation of digital technologies in the country is very well developed. As an example, non-cash transfers, electronic cards, as well as government services provided through mobile applications. Such cooperation will be beneficial for India. In turn, we want to share our experience,» said Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to Kazakhstan Nagendra Prasad.


The SCO is a tool for building the «One Belt and Road»


Of course, the SCO summits, as well as the events created within the organization, pave the way for building a «community of common destiny» and unite many joint projects of the countries as a red thread.


«The SCO is an important platform for the construction of the Belt and Road. In terms of core values, the Shanghai Spirit and the Silk Road Spirit have much in common. In terms of geographical location, the SCO member states are mainly partners in the Belt and Road Initiative. From the point of view of cooperation, political, economic and humanitarian interaction within the SCO is highly consistent with the five priorities of the joint construction of «One Belt and One Road,» – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to Kazakhstan Zhang Xiao.


The Ambassador especially noted that the practical cooperation of the SCO not only promotes economic development and improves the living conditions of peoples, but also provides important support in continuously improving the quality of construction of the Belt and Road. Multilateral trade and economic cooperation programs of the SCO member states increase the level of trade liberalization and facilitate the simplification of trade procedures in the region, stimulating the emergence of new trade formats. The SCO’s practical cooperation is constantly deepening, giving impetus to the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road.


«The SCO summit in Astana will allow us to develop new plans for the development of the organization and cooperation in various fields, as well as provide new opportunities for a more pragmatic and effective participation of the SCO in the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road, thereby making a greater contribution to the organization’s security and stability and development of the region,» added Mr. Ambassador.