in 2022 On February 24, the Russian-Ukrainian war began with the implementation of the “Special Military Operation” of the Russian Federation, which turned into the largest NATO-Russian confrontation since the end of the Cold War. The over-tension and de facto rupture of relations between Russia and the “West” has led to a deep crisis of the international system. In the post-Cold War world, the role of traditional international organizations for security and cooperation (UN, OSCE) has greatly decreased, as a result of which a number of regional conflicts have intensified. Parallel to all this, relatively new organizations of international cooperation have entered a new stage of development, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with which this article is dedicated to the prospects of cooperation of the Republic of Armenia.
Below, the creation of the SCO will be presented, the basic documents, goals, principles of the SCO will be analyzed and an attempt will be made to highlight what new opportunities the SCO can give to the Republic of Armenia.
Creation of SCO
In order to have a comprehensive understanding of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), it is necessary to refer to the historical period in which it was created, and what were the prerequisites and motives for its creation.
The events that led to the creation of the SCO took place in the 60s of the last century and were related to the border problems of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. The first negotiations between the USSR and the People’s Republic of China for the resolution of border problems took place in 1964. in February. The parties reached a verbal agreement on the eastern part of the border, but no document was signed. The gradual aggravation of relations between the two sides also led to the termination of negotiations on border issues. Before the collapse of the USSR, two more rounds of negotiations took place: in 1969-79. and 1987-90. The main result of these long-lasting negotiations was in 1990. the agreement “On the principles of mutual reduction of armed forces and strengthening of military confidence in the border zone” signed in April. In December 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, on its territory 15 independent states were formed, four of which – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – shared a common border with China. Thus, the Sino-Russian, Sino-Kazakh, Sino-Kyrgyz and Sino-Tajik sectors were formed on the border with a total length of more than 7000 km. Their length was more than 4300, 1700, 1000 and 450 km, respectively. The Russian-Chinese border was mainly preserved in the eastern part of the former border, about 50 km remained from the western part. The border with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan passed entirely along the western part of the Soviet-Chinese border. In this new situation, the question arose as to how to continue negotiations on border issues. During the consultations, the parties agreed to form a bilateral negotiation process, in which China would be one side of the negotiations, and Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would jointly represent the other side.
The first meeting in the above format took place in 1996. in April, in Shanghai. As a result of the negotiations, the agreement “Strengthening the confidence of the military sector of the border zone” was signed, which was the first important achievement of these countries in the field of border security. Due to the venue of the negotiations, expert circles called this format “Shanghai Five”, on the basis of which the SCO was later created.
Before the establishment of the SCO, five meetings were held within the framework of the “Shanghai Five”. The second meeting took place in Moscow in 1997. on April 24 and 25. As a result of the meeting, the agreement “On mutual reduction of military forces in the border zone” was signed, which was an important document for ensuring border security.
In 1998 on July 3 and 4, the third meeting took place in Alma-Ata, which became a turning point for the development of relations between the participating states. During this meeting, the actual bilateral format of the negotiations became multilateral. Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan ceased to be a party to the negotiations. In these talks, the participants for the first time discussed issues related to regional and economic security in addition to border security issues, which gave a significant impetus to the development of cooperation between the five countries. Thus, the scope of cooperation between the states expanded.
According to the logic of Alma-Ata, the fourth and fifth meetings of the “Shanghai Five” were also held in 1999. and 2000. During the fifth meeting held in the capital of Tajikistan, in which the President of Uzbekistan also participated as an observer for the first time, the parties signed The statement of Dushanbe. According to the statement, the parties decided to hold meetings of defense ministers of five countries and consultations of other state institutions. to organize regular meetings of responsible persons of state security, justice, border guard and customs bodies, to discuss the conduct of joint exercises to combat terrorism and natural disasters, to support the creation of anti-terrorist structures so that Central Asia is a zone of peace and neighborliness, stability and equal international cooperation and counter any conflicts, threats and external interventions, which will lead to the complication of the situation in this region. In Dushanbe, the parties expressed their interest in transforming the Shanghai Five into a regional cooperation organization.
2001 in June, Uzbekistan joined the “Shanghai Five”, which actually became the “Shanghai Six”. On June 14, the leaders of six countries signed the declaration on the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Shanghai.
The SCO was created in a difficult historical period, after the collapse of the USSR. The creation of five newly independent states in Central Asia created a geopolitical vacuum, and the creation of the SCO was a step aimed at filling that vacuum by Russia and China. During this period, the US-PRC and US-RF relations were also tense, which were related to the events taking place in Yugoslavia, and the creation of the SCO was a new opportunity for the deepening of the Russian-PRC relations. In addition to the above, in 1996 The Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, which created additional dangers for the SCO member countries.
Thus, border issues became the motivation for the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. After the collapse of the USSR, the states of the “Shanghai Five” were able not only to settle the border problems, but also to create a new international organization with great prospects for multi-sectoral cooperation.
SCO goals and new opportunities for RA
The goals and principles of SCO are fixed in the fundamental documents of the organization:
- SCO Charter,
- Declaration on the freezing of the SCO,
- Shanghai Convention Against Terrorism, Separatism, Extremism,
- Agreement on long-term neighborliness, friendship and cooperation of SCO member states.
According to these documents, the objectives of the SCO are:
- strengthening mutual trust, friendship and neighborliness among member countries,
- promotion of cooperation between member countries in the political, commercial, economic, scientific, technical and cultural spheres, as well as in the spheres of education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection,
- joint provision and maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region,
- drive towards the establishment of a democratic, just and rational new international political and economic order.
The threats to SCO security are:
In order to make the fight against terrorism more effective, in 2002 “Regional anti-terrorist structure” was created.
2020 After the third Artsakh war, the Republic of Armenia faced new security challenges. In this difficult period, the Republic of Armenia, more than ever, must implement a skillfully developed foreign policy in order to ensure favorable external security conditions. In this context, let’s try to understand what opportunities cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization can provide.
What kind of security problems does the Republic of Armenia have today? Artsakh issue, border security issues, Syunik “corridor” issue,
As we saw in the first section of the article, SCO was created as a result of solving border problems. Therefore, SCO member countries have relevant experience in solving border problems. It is possible to use the relevant experience and potential of the SCO in the demarcation and demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in the following three directions:
- exchange of experience
- negotiation platform
During the Artsakh war, terrorists were brought to the region by Azerbaijan, and the head of the foreign intelligence service of RA’s strategic ally Russia, the head of the French Republic, and the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran spoke about it. ???After the end of the war, the terrorists did not leave the region, which is a direct threat to regional security. The fight against terrorism is one of the priorities of the SCO. There is a “Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure” in SCO. According to the founding documents of the SCO, the SCO member states regularly exchange information on possible terrorist acts threatening the region and act together to neutralize this threat. The fight against terrorism is one of the main opportunities provided by SCO for RA.
As for the so-called “Zangezur Corridor”, there are two states in the SCO that are against the corridor. Thus, the Russian Federation has stated at various levels that it is against the “corridor” logic. This was announced by the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Armenia S. Kopirkin, the Russian Co-Chairman of the Commission for Unblocking the Communication Channels and Border Demarcation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexey Overchuk. The Islamic Republic of Iran has officially announced that the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia is a red line. The SCO can be a platform for the formation of a new RF-RA-Iran security alliance.
The next foreign policy problem, which is directly related to our security, is the deterioration of relations with a strategic ally. Russia is a founding member of the SCO, besides, as stated in the concept of the Russian foreign policy. “Russia seeks to transform Eurasia into a single continental area of peace, stability, mutual trust, development and prosperity” and to achieve this goal, it is necessary to: “Comprehensive strengthening of the SCO’s potential and role in ensuring security in Eurasia and promoting its sustainable development by improving the organization’s activities, taking into account modern geopolitical realities.” Thus, the SCO is one of the foreign political priorities of the Russian Federation, the deepening of relations with the organization will also contribute to the improvement of relations with the Russian Federation and raising it to a new level.
In the National Security Strategy of the Republic of Armenia, relations with the following states are listed as a foreign policy priority:
1. Russian Federation,
3. European Union,
4. Georgia and Iran,
6. People’s Republic of China,
8. Countries of the Middle East.
Three of the countries that are a foreign policy priority for RA: Russia, Iran, India and China are members of the SCO. The deepening of relations with the SCO will also contribute to the deepening of bilateral relations with the above-mentioned states and the improvement of RA’s external security environment.
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- In the same place.
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