Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship Lauded as 24th SCO Summit Convenes in Astana

The 24th summit of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), chaired by Kazakhstan, took place today in the capital, Astana. Titled “Strengthening Multilateral Dialogue – Striving Towards a Sustainable Peace and Prosperity,” the summit saw the adoption of the Astana Declaration, as well as approximately 25 documents and statements from the Heads of State, including the Initiative on World Unity for a Just Peace, Harmony, and Development, which was supported by the members of the SCO. Speaking at the summit, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, stated that the SCO has become an effective mechanism of interstate relations, operating on the basis of the “Shanghai spirit” of friendship, good neighborliness, equality, and mutual support. He highlighted the significance of the SCO and the event. “More than three billion people live in the SCO space. The organization includes the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies, accounting for a third of global GDP. This clearly demonstrates the enormous potential and global role of our organization,” he said. According to Tokayev, during Kazakhstan’s chairmanship, approximately 150 events at various levels were held, including digital, tourism, energy, and business forums, as well as the SCO Youth Council. Sixty new documents were prepared, including the Anti-Drug Strategy, the Plan for the Implementation of the Economic Cooperation Strategy, the Agreement in the Field of Environmental Protection, and the Strategy for the Development of Energy Cooperation. The circle of international organizations partnering with the SCO has expanded. The activities of the Special Working Group on Investments have resumed, and the transition to settlements in national currencies has gained momentum. 

The Kazakh leader added that Kazakhstan has fully fulfilled all the goals and objectives stated at the previous summit.

President of China, Xi Jinping, Acting President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Mokhber, along with other leaders, acknowledged Kazakhstan’s positive role in leading the SCO. Xi Jinping remarked, “I would like to especially highlight the significant contribution of the Kazakh presidency in promoting cooperation and advancing the activities of the SCO. Without any doubt, the Astana summit will elevate our organization to new heights.” Acting President Mokhber stated, “I express my gratitude for the efforts made by President Tokayev and the government of Kazakhstan over the past year during their presidency of the SCO.” President Tokayev outlined key areas of strategic importance for all countries of the “Shanghai Ten,” including strengthening mutual trust and cooperation in the field of security, expanding trade and economic relations, enhancing transport connectivity by creating efficient corridors and reliable supply chains, and the need to reform and modernize the SCO.  “The ongoing process of expanding the Organization opens up new opportunities and gives impetus to its development. Our country, as chair of the SCO, presented balanced proposals for transforming the Organization into an even more effective multilateral cooperation mechanism. In particular, we advocate strengthening the role of the SCO Secretariat and the Secretary General,” the President emphasized. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also participated in the inaugural SCO+ format meeting. Speaking earlier, he highlighted Kazakhstan’s important voice in the UN. “I think we need to recognize that when Kazakhstan acts in favor of peace, when Kazakhstan acts in bringing together parties in conflict in order to solve their problems, when Kazakhstan is this honest broker in international affairs, Kazakhstan becomes a very important instrument of the objectives of the UN,” he stated. At the SCO+ format, President Tokayev proposed several key strategies to enhance multilateral cooperation among SCO member states. These included enhancing the UN’s role in global security, supporting China’s plan to increase SCO trade turnover to $3 trillion, and developing a large Eurasian trade belt utilizing over 350,000 kilometers of railroads. He noted that “eighty percent of land transportation between Asia and Europe goes through Kazakhstan.” Tokayev also emphasized addressing climate change by introducing new water-saving technologies and achieving UN environmental goals. Additionally, he advocated for cultural and humanitarian cooperation through the establishment of cultural centers, engaging youth, expanding SCO universities, and increasing grants for students, particularly in technical fields.

At the summit, Belarus was officially admitted as a full member state of the SCO. President Tokayev congratulated Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on this occasion.

The SCO summit saw the participation of several world leaders, including Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov, Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.