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President Vladimir Putin at SCO: New ‘Emerging Centers of Power’ Based on International Law

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EIRNS—Speaking today at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) Heads of State Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin made the pointthat the SCO is now the largest regional cooperation organization in the world. Over half of the world’s population lives in SCO member states, accounting for about 25% of the global GDP—and those states “have a powerful intellectual and technological potential and a considerable part of the global natural resources.”

Putin welcomed both Iran’s “earliest possible accession” to the SCO in the documents to be signed today and Belarus’s beginning the accession process; and then he named those countries that are new dialogue partners, and those that have begun the process of obtaining that status. There are many more countries, he added, that seek membership in or association with the SCO. All are welcomed, he said, because the SCO is a “non-bloc association…. We are open to working with the whole world.”

He emphasized that in a very complicated international situation, the SCO is not “marking time,” but rather continuing to develop and build its role in addressing international and regional issues—maintaining peace and stability “throughout the vast Eurasian space.” And take note, he said, of the coming changes in global politics and the economy which “are about to undergo fundamental and irreversible changes.”

How? There are new “centers of power” emerging, and the interaction among them is not “based on some rules, which are being forced on them by external forces and which nobody has seen, but on the universally recognized principles of the rule of international law and the UN Charter, namely, equal and indivisible security and respect for each other’s sovereignty, national values and interests.”

The joint efforts of SCO member states in politics and the economy are based on these principles, he underscored, “which are devoid of all elements of egoism.” Hence, there are broad prospects for “continued mutually-beneficial cooperation in politics, the economy, culture, humanitarian and other spheres.” He mentioned the importance of international transport corridors, to expand intra-regional trade and advanced industrial and scientific and technological cooperation.

Strengthening economic cooperation is key, Putin said, through expanded trade and investment and business projects. Of particular note, he emphasized the importance of “increasing the volume of settlements in national currencies,” now being widely discussed and implemented in those nations seeking alternatives to the “rules-based order.” The Russian President added that the SCO is addressing energy and food problems, resulting from “certain systemic errors in the world’s leading economies in the field of finance and energy…. Our policy is not selfish.” But he urged other “participants in economic cooperation” to stop using the tools of “protectionism, illegal sanctions and economic selfishness to their own advantage.”

Of some note, Putin addressed the issue of still-existing sanctions that limit Russia’s ability to export food and fertilizer to developing countries. Last May, after the UN-Turkey agreement was brokered to allow the export of Ukrainian grains from its ports, which Russia agreed to, Western nations promised that sanctions would be lifted on Russian food and fertilizer exports. That promise was not kept. Putin pointed out that sanctions on Russian shipments were lifted only for EU countries, so they are the only ones that can purchase Russian fertilizer. “What about the developing, poorest countries around the world?” He had told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Sept. 14 ago about the 300,000 tons of Russian fertilizer that are stocked at EU ports. “We are ready to make them available to developing countries for free,” Putin announced. He reported he had told Guterres to use the UN’s influence on the European Commission to demand that they “lift these clearly discriminatory restrictions on developing countries and provide access for Russian fertilizers to their markets.”