April 21, 2017 – Fort Russ News
Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of RF:
The meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers has come to a close. It was the last stage in the preparations for the next SCO Summit, which will be held in Astana between June 8-9. We have discussed a package of documents that will be offered for approval by our heads of state. These primarily include the decisions on completing the procedure for the full accession of India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. It will be an event of historical significance, which will help strengthen the SCO’s prestige and influence on the international stage. Following the addition of India and Pakistan, the SCO will account for 43 per cent of the world’s population and 24 per cent of global GDP.
The next country we will discuss to join is Iran. As many participants at the meeting said today, Iran has settled the problem of the UN Security Council sanctions and hence fully meets the SCO membership criteria. We hope that during their June summit in Astana the heads of our states will be able to discuss the possibility of launching the procedure for admitting Iran into the organisation as a full member.
The other documents we discussed include the draft Convention on Combatting Extremism. It is an extremely important and innovative document, which offers provisions based on internal law for combatting extremist ideology and extremism as a factor that undermines the stability of countries. We hope that this convention will be approved by our heads of state.
Work on the SCO strategy against narcotic drugs has continued for a second year. Today we have agreed to boost the work of the concerned agencies in our countries to complete the programme and the action plan for its implementation in time for the Astana summit.
We also discussed a draft convention on cooperation in environmental protection, which is also an issue of concern to us. As you know, this is one of Russia’s priorities, and our SCO partners are acting likewise.
Lastly, we expect to sign an intergovernmental agreement on the SCO University, which operates as a network of 80 universities from the SCO countries.
Our discussions on international matters included Syria, of course. This issue cannot leave anyone indifferent considering the related geopolitical events, in particular, the recent ungrounded accusations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and our Western colleagues’ refusal to send inspectors to the site so that they would see for themselves what happened there and collect samples.
We told our partners how the Syrian issue was discussed during the recent visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Russia and also during a meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Syria in Moscow on April 14. All parties have confirmed the need for strict compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 which provides for an exclusively peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis based on an inclusive dialogue between all Syrians. It also says that the Syrians themselves must decide the future of their country.
Our SCO partners also clearly reaffirmed the importance of compliance with UN Security Council decisions on the approval of the Minsk Agreements on the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.
These are the main results of our meeting. I believe our talks were very positive, useful, business-like and also practical.