The Secretary-General of SCO V. Norov
On 27 April 2011, the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the International Day of Friendship, which has since been celebrated annually around the world on 30thJuly.
The International Day of Friendship aims to strengthen friendly relations not only between individuals, but also between peoples, countries, continents, and different communities. The main idea of the holiday is to recognize the relevance and importance of friendship as a manifestation of a noble feeling common to all people.
The world is facing challenges ranging from poverty and hunger to intolerance of some people to others. That is why there is the International Day of Friendship, which encourages people from all over the world to unite against social and other problems and to be tolerant of each other.
On the International Day of Friendship, the UN called on states, international organizations, and international public opinion to hold events and initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and solidarity among civilizations.
This holiday is very relevant for the SCO family countries. For the peoples of the SCO space, its main meaning is to develop tolerance and promote friendship between countries and peoples.
One of the founding documents of the SCO, the Treaty on Neighbourhood Friendship and Cooperation signed in 2007, notes that strengthening and deepening relations of good neighborliness, friendship, and cooperation among the SCO Member States is in the fundamental interests of their peoples and contributes to the cause of peace and development in the SCO space and around the world.
In the same sense the SCOMember States’, focus on building joint efforts to prevent common challenges and threats, and to preserve the diversity of forms of socio-economic, and cultural development, is of particular importance.
Formed in the process of creation of the SCO – the “Shanghai Spirit” characterized by mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for multiculturalism, desire for joint development, has become a key norm of the SCO model of multilateral cooperation.
Over the past 19 years, United in the Shanghai spirit, Member States have presented to the world a new model of genuine partnership, the important elements of which are mutual understanding, equality, and coordination.
The modern world is becoming more multifaceted, and the processes taking place in it are becoming more complicated. However, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: modern humanity is united by a common destiny and the abandonment of dividing lines can become a powerful impetus of the new stage of the development of world civilization.
In this regard, the rapprochement of countries and peoples requires not just their constant dialogue, but mutual knowledge of cultures and traditions, a deep mutual understanding of civilizational characteristics in the name of universal progress and prosperity, for the sake of peace and stability in the world.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization now unites 18 countries with a population of about 44% of the world’s population. The palette of ethnic groups, nations, religions, and civilizations of SCO countries gives a particularly bright multicultural facet.
The SCO Development Strategy to 2025 states that the SCO countries, being multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies, are interested in ensuring an internal inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace, strengthening centuries-old traditions of harmonious co-existence of different nationalities and religions, and the development of inter-civilizational dialogue.
The humanitarian heritage of the SCO relates to the names of the greatest thinkers, outstanding discoverers who have made an invaluable contribution to the development of human civilization. One in nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites is in the SCO space.
The SCO consistently and purposefully implements its main civilizational mission – promotes mutual understanding between peoples, mutual knowledge, penetration, enrichment, and rapprochement of cultures and civilizations, promotes the traditions and customs of peoples.
Only through familiarity with ancient history, rich and unique cultural traditions and heritage, the customs of each other can form mutual respect and trust between states and peoples, as well as ensure the education of the younger generation in the spirit of friendship, respect for the cultural characteristics of other peoples.
The SCO Member States, because of their enormous potential for humanitarian cooperation, have active bilateral and multilateral cultural ties on a regular basis. Their main goal is to practically promote the strengthening of friendly ties and rapprochement of the peoples of the SCO countries.
The SCO Secretariat is working to strengthen the friendly contacts of the SCO countries. As part of the complex cultural and humanitarian project “SCO our common home” held various activities that are aimed at bringing cultures closer together and promoting the dialogue of civilizations.
Within the framework of this project, from September 2016 to the present, the Days of Culture of China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Moscow Day, an Evening dedicated to the 90thanniversary of Kyrgyz writer C.Aitmatov, exhibitions of paintings and children’s paintings had been held, including a series of classical concerts “Nine Magic Notes” with the participation of pianists of SCO countries.
These events were held at a high level and has contributed to strengthening the “Shanghai Spirit” and the positive image of the SCO, as well as helpedto popularize the culture, history, traditions, and customs of the peoples of the SCO countries.
Events of this format provide many opportunities to bring together the creative teams of all SCO countries on one platform, demonstrating achievements reflecting the unique national flavor of each country.
Also, every year the SCO Secretariat together with the embassies of member states widely celebrates the holiday of Nowruz, which is accompanied by the presentation of national musical art and clothing, the exhibition of objects of applied art and tasting of the national cuisine of the peoples of the SCO countries.
It is safe to say that an additional incentive for the dissemination of the rich historical and cultural heritage of the SCO Member States is the SCO Secretariat’project of “Eight Wonders of the SCO” which aims to demonstrate the cultural diversity of the SCO Member States and its tourism potential.
Youth is an important factor in strengthening friendship between peoples
One of the objectives of the International Friendship Festival is to involve young people in social activities aimed at respecting different cultures.
The Joint Address of the SCO Member States to Youth, adopted in June 2018, reaffirms the enduring importance of spirituality, and education of young people in the spirit of honoring such unchanging values as patriotism, high morality, tolerance, humanity, and mutual respect.
To implement this important document, the Secretariat continues to conduct a series of activities for the young generation of the SCO Model, which are aimed at increasing the knowledge of young people about the cultural and civilizational traditions of our countries and the activities of the SCO.
In the 21stcentury, when the world is changing at a fantastic rate, young people demonstrate the originality and freshness of ideas, act as an initial part of society, offers innovative solutions for a better life. Our task, therefore, is to teach young people to be friends and to serve the ideals of world peace.
The SCO youth policy is aimed at actively involving young men and women in the creation of a decent future, promoting the physical, mental, and spiritual development of the younger generation, ensuring their active participation in the political, economic, and cultural life of the SCO countries.
The SCO sees a huge intellectual potential in the younger generation, capable of mastering modern knowledge; science and technology, art, and literature, with high legal culture and a strong immunity against extremism and fanaticism, striving for peace and development.
Working with young people and for young people is one of the top priorities of the SCO, it’s Youth Council. We support the goodwill and activity of the SCOLAR youth platform under the SCO Secretariat. We want to witness the birth of new leaders of the 21st century because in the face of today’s young people we see a driving force in strengthening friendship in the SCO space.
The epidemic has shown what sincere friendship is
Our peoples have a saying: “friends know in trouble.” The response of the SCO countries to the outbreak of the epidemic in China was timely and meaningful. The leaders of the SCO Member States, Observer States, and Dialogue Partners have expressed their strong and unequivocal support and solidarity with China’s efforts in this regard. A set of humanitarian assistance measures was implemented, at first, it was carried out in the direction of China, as the situation improved, China beside SCO countries began to help many other countries of the world.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has caused not only socio-economic problems on a global scale but also has created a wave of xenophobia and stigmatization in different parts of the world. At the same time, there are growing calls to prevent the politicization of the virus and the need to consolidate efforts to combat and mitigate the negative impacts of the COVID-19.
The most important task today is to overcome political confrontation, protectionism on a global and regional scale, and to resist attempts to divide humanity by politicizing the problem of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has shown that no one can fight the virus alone. Coronavirus is by no means the latest global test. I think that all countries should understand this fact and make efforts for cooperation on the principles of mutual support, joint development, and the creation of common goods. I believe that in the current conditions of humanity’s struggle against the pandemic of coronavirus, the principles of multilateralism are becoming more relevant. All States and international organizations are now closely linked to each other and the key to defeating this invisible enemy, which knows no borders, is global solidarity and international cooperation.
It should be noted that the coronavirus pandemic not only poses challenges and threats to peace but also creates new opportunities and perspectives.
In this sense, it is important to analyze the experience of cooperation in an emergency. In particular, we are talking about the positive factors of interaction, solidarity, moral and material support between our countries, not only at the official level but also between representatives of different sectors of society, business circles, the cultural and scientific community and young people, which demonstrates the great potential of friendship between ordinary peoples and people’s diplomacy in the SCO countries as a whole.
In general, the joint fight against the coronavirus strengthens the “Shanghai Spirit” and brings the SCOMember Statestogether. Working closely with each other, they reaffirm their commitment to a philosophy of open development and a community based on shared responsibility.