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Belarus is able to qualitatively strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

SCO is at the forefront of progress

Given its geographical location and diverse potential, Belarus is able to qualitatively strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, contributing to stability, peace and prosperity in its space.

The observed systemic crisis of trust between the major world powers brings medium—sized and small states from different blocs to the world stage, with their own peculiarities of the political system and even mutual contradictions, but declaring a common goal – sovereign development on the platform of national interests and countering challenges and threats. It is such countries that today demonstrate pragmatic and more responsible behavior in comparison with the world's grandees, as well as a mood for a constructive agenda as opposed to confrontation.

An example of such a progressive "agglomeration" is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a community of growing regional players, some of which no longer hide their global ambitions. Due to its creative potential, it is transforming into one of the leading institutions of cooperation in Eurasia, becoming the "architect" of a new system of international relations and security.

Беларусь способна качественно усилить Шанхайскую организацию сотрудничества
Collage by Ivan Gaiduk

Belarus is a donor of stability in the SCO

At the same time, the SCO space cannot yet be called a garden of eden — the old problems have not gone away, they overlap with modern challenges, reinforcing each other. For example, territorial, national-ethnic, religious and military conflicts remain unresolved, which give rise to multi-layered humanitarian crises. At the same time, the downside of any crisis and challenge is new opportunities, which it is important to use in time and skillfully.

Юрий ЯрмолинскийIt is with this understanding that Belarus has been consistently moving into the bosom of the SCO family since 2010. As stated by Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting in Minsk with Secretary General Zhang Ming, Belarus intends to fulfill the procedures for joining the SCO ahead of schedule for the June summit in New Delhi, which is an unprecedented case.

Belarus' full membership in the SCO takes the alliance beyond the regional framework and strengthens its geopolitical subjectivity. Taking into account its geographical location and diverse potential, our country is able to qualitatively strengthen the SCO, contributing to stability, peace and prosperity in its space.

The priorities and approaches of Belarus in the SCO remain unshakable — this is effective cooperation to strengthen regional security, dynamic development of economic cooperation and deepening humanitarian ties.

Taking into account the spectrum and dynamics of modern challenges and threats, Belarus consistently advocates the formation of a "seamless" architecture of security and cooperation in Eurasia based on the principles of indivisibility and cultural and civilizational diversity of sustainable development paths.

Minsk, as the current chairman and recognized donor of regional security, strongly supports the expansion of cooperation between the CSTO and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) SCO in the areas of mutual interests. The initiative to create a Universal Center for Threats and Security Challenges of the SCO on the basis of ¬RATS in order to counter attempts of hybrid wars and "color revolutions" by joint efforts deserves special attention.

It is obvious that the SCO's economic track is still lagging behind the dynamics in the security sector, which is largely due to the disproportions of the economic potential and the dynamics of the countries' development. Therefore, Alexander Lukashenko has previously put forward a number of initiatives to ensure food security, create a specialized exhibition "AgroSCO" at the international forum of agrarians "Belagro", develop the "IT ecosystem of the SCO", strengthen nuclear safety and peaceful use of the atom. Based on combining national strategies and long-term development plans, we offer partners to use the opportunities of Belarus as a country with a traditionally strong and efficient agricultural sector, high-tech production, a developed intellectual base and agricultural engineering to strengthen the food, nuclear and cybersecurity of the SCO members and the region on the whole.

Connectivity will play a decisive role in the development of international relations in the future. Therefore, as a transit country, Belarus stands for the development of the interconnectedness of Europe with Eurasia within the framework of the initiatives "New Eurasian Land Bridge", "Belt and Road", international transport corridors "North—South" and "East—West", including through the creation of combined green corridors and further implementation of the integrated traffic management system with using digital technologies.

Belarusian initiatives on the integration of global development strategies, the expansion of the use of national currencies in trade and finance, the development of a common transport space, the use of various cost-effective and environmentally friendly technologies are relevant. The SCO's potential can be enhanced through the intensification of trade and economic cooperation in the fields of industrial and technological cooperation; digital transformation, artificial intelligence and big data; green economy and climate adaptation; space exploration; elimination of unreasonable trade barriers, etc.

In the banking, financial and insurance spheres, it is important to continue the systematic convergence of payment systems, increase the share of national currencies in mutual trade, as well as the creation of financial mechanisms protected from external influence.

The Eurasian Partnership can be further "glued together" on the basis of the "integration of integrations" concept focused on expanding international cooperation and SCO cross-cooperation with other regional associations - the CSTO, the EEU, BRICS and ASEAN. If we succeed in creation of such a capable mechanism in Eurasia, we do not exclude the interest of the EU countries in it.

Expert diplomacy is the SCO driver

From the SCO's humanitarian dimension viewpoint, ¬expert diplomacy is seen as an instrument for deepening regional integration.

In April 2012, in Almaty, it was proposed to optimize the SCO Forum though creating a network analytical center based on it using a program-project approach in order to increase the level of scientific and expert-analytical support for the SCO's activities, expand contacts between analytical structures, conduct joint research, etc.

A concrete practical content of the multilateral partnership could be, for example, the joint development of the SCO Concept of Expert Diplomacy.

In the current conditions of geopolitical uncertainty, the main competition in the world revolves around designing the image of the future. It seems that this area of research is the most important for the SCO expert community.

Strategic analysis and forecasting are impossible without the use of high technologies. The Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research (¬BISR) has developed an automated information system for media field monitoring "Infometrica" based on algorithms and big data technology. The capabilities of the system allow for operational monitoring of the information agenda, analyze the development of information guides, identify fakes and stuffing of false information. An additional option allows to solve the tasks of strategic marketing, competitive intelligence at the country and industry levels, as well as reputation risk management.

BISR is ready to bring these and a number of other technological developments as its practical contribution to strengthening the SCO expert and analytical basis, contributing to strengthening peace, stability and prosperity in the common Eurasian home.

Yuri YARMOLINSKY, analyst at the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research.