SCO strives for stability, peace while NATO a destabilizing factor
Published: Jul 04, 2024 07:51 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Tajikistan from Thursday to Saturday following his visit to Kazakhstan and attendance at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. In a global environment where geopolitical uncertainty is increasing, in what areas do China and Tajikistan have consensus and a common vision? How could cooperation between China and Tajikistan become an example for the Central Asian region? Global Times (GT) reporters Wang Wenwen and Xing Xiaojing interviewed Navjuvonov Abdullo Shanbievich (Navjuvonov), former head of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Sughd Region of the Republic of Tajikistan, to discuss these issues. 

GT: What do you expect from President Xi's state visit to Tajikistan?

Navjuvonov: President Xi is a great friend and a very reliable partner of President Emomali Rahmon and our country. It is a great honor for us to receive such a guest, and I am sure that the upcoming reception will be held at the highest level, with generous Tajik hospitality and good impressions for our friends and colleagues from China. It's hard not to notice the result of President Xi's last visit to our country in June 2019. Since then many intergovernmental agreements have been signed in various areas, and many business projects have been implemented, even despite the global impact of the pandemic. We expect the same impulse with even greater results from the visit.

GT: How do you assess the current China-Tajikistan relations? In a global environment where geopolitical uncertainty is increasing, in what areas do China and Tajikistan have consensus and a common vision? 

Navjuvonov: China and Tajikistan have a long history of friendly and good neighborly relations and have always found common interests, despite global geopolitical difficulties. Our countries have several areas of consensus and shared vision, especially in the context of geopolitical relations and cooperation. Some of the key areas of our relationship are economic cooperation, the fight against terrorism and extremism, defense and military cooperation, infrastructure projects, international initiatives and educational programs. Both countries are actively developing economic ties, including investment, trade and infrastructure development. China is one of Tajikistan's largest trading partners and is also actively investing in projects in the construction of roads, energy and other industries.

The fight against terrorism and extremism remains one of the most pressing problems in our region and directly affects the security of our countries. Both countries attach great importance to cooperation in this fight, especially in the context of regional security and stability. I think that we can further unlock the potential of working together and achieve better results in this area, as all the prerequisites and opportunities exist for this. China and Tajikistan maintain military cooperation, including exchanging experiences and training military personnel, as well as conducting joint exercises.

Infrastructure projects now play an exceptional role in creating new opportunities and improving quality to a new level. Both countries are actively involved in the implementation of transport and energy projects aimed at increasing economic development and integration of the region.

China and Tajikistan support international initiatives such as the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the construction of the SCO. These areas demonstrate the common interests and desire of both countries to develop mutually beneficial relations in the face of geopolitical uncertainty.

GT: How do you assess the significance of the BRI for Tajikistan and the Central Asian region? What new developments have emerged in cooperation between the two countries in the 11th year since the BRI was launched?

Navjuvonov: The BRI is of particular importance for Tajikistan and the entire Central Asian region. Thanks to the wise leadership of our country and the right course of development and international cooperation, Tajikistan is becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. Infrastructure projects financed by the BRI play a key role in improving transport links, energy integration and access to international markets. Examples include the construction of roads, railways, energy networks and other infrastructure projects.

Tajikistan has significant hydropower potential, and cooperation under the BRI promotes the development of hydropower projects, which not only improves the country's energy security, but also promotes economic development. The BRI contributes to strengthening regional integration in Central Asia by supporting the creation of cross-border economic corridors and connectivity networks between countries in the region. China is actively investing in various sectors of Tajikistan's economy, which is helping improve its infrastructure, increase production capacity and improve the living conditions of its people.

Regarding new developments in cooperation between China and Tajikistan over the past 11 years since the launch of the BRI, several significant infrastructure projects have been implemented over the years, such as the construction of the Dushanbe-Khujand highway, the expansion of airports, the modernization of energy networks and other facilities. Tajikistan and China continue to develop trade and economic relations, increasing the volume of trade and investment. Apart from economic cooperation, the two countries are also strengthening cultural and educational ties, further enhancing mutual understanding and cooperation.

The BRI continues to play a key role in deepening China's engagement with Central Asia, including Tajikistan, and promoting development across the region through expanded infrastructure, strengthened economic connectivity and cooperation in key industries.

GT: From your point of view, how could cooperation between China and Tajikistan become an example for the Central Asian region and for the whole world?

Navjuvonov: Cooperation between China and Tajikistan can already be cited as an example to many countries in the world, especially neighboring countries. This cooperation has the potential to become an example for the Central Asian region and for the whole world.

Our countries cooperate in all major areas, but what makes our relationship special is our openness and willingness to accept new challenges and develop trusting relationships in all areas of interest to us. Thus, successful cooperation between China and Tajikistan can serve as an inspiration for other Central Asian countries and the world to find joint solutions to global challenges. This partnership emphasizes the importance of dialogue, mutual respect for interests and cooperation based on mutual benefit.

GT: The SCO summit was just held in Kazakhstan from Wednesday to Thursday. How would you comment on the role of the SCO in solving security problems and maintaining peace in the region over the past few years? You were responsible for security issues in your country. What are the general security challenges facing the region?

Navjuvonov: The role of the SCO in solving security problems for our country and our region is obvious and cannot be exaggerated; primarily, this pertains to the fight against terrorism, the threat that remains high in the region and throughout the world. The Central Asian region faces threats of terrorism and extremism from various groups and ideologies. This poses a threat to stability and security in the SCO countries. The organization actively cooperates in the fight against terrorism, extremism and radicalization through joint exercises and sharing of experience, which helps strengthen security in the region.

Cross-border crime is a focal point at SCO security summits. The intersection of drug trafficking, smuggling and other forms of cross-border crime is a serious problem that requires joint efforts to combat.

The SCO is also actively involved in hydrometeorological safety, working on joint projects to predict and manage emergencies such as floods and earthquakes, which is important for minimizing the consequences of natural disasters. Taking into account the mountainous terrain, the main part of Tajikistan, these projects are of particular importance for us. 

Information security is another significant threat that necessitates collaborative action. The organization works on protecting information resources and countering cyber threats, which is becoming increasingly relevant in the context of digitalization of society. 

The SCO is actively working to address various security challenges in the Central Asian region. Its activities in the fight against terrorism, protection from natural disasters, ensuring information and environmental security, economic and social sustainability, and energy security are becoming an important example of cooperation and joint solving of global problems. The development of these international initiatives helps strengthen peace and stability not only in the region, but also in the international arena.

GT: The NATO summit will be held next week. While the SCO is about security and cooperation, NATO is trying to achieve its so-called security through war and division. How do you analyze this?

Navjuvonov: The main goals of the SCO include cooperation in the fields of security, economics and culture, with an emphasis on conflict resolution, combating terrorism and maintaining stability in the Central Asian region and beyond. The SCO prefers to focus on diplomacy, economic cooperation and international cooperation in the fight against security threats. The organization tries to solve problems through cooperation and strengthening mutual trust. The SCO is a multipolar forum where members strive for cooperation and conflict resolution based on the principles of equality and mutual respect.

The SCO is a platform for the development of trade and economic relations, the expansion of infrastructure projects and the balanced management of international relations. To be frank, unlike NATO, the SCO does not enter into open confrontation with anyone and does not provoke anyone into conflicts.

NATO is focused on the collective defense of its members and military operations to ensure the security of its members. NATO everywhere claims to be focused on military cooperation, defense measures and preparedness to respond to military threats. 

Russia has frequently expressed concerns about NATO's eastward expansion and its increased military presence near its borders, including the deployment of military infrastructure and military exercises. This is seen as a destabilizing factor in the region, which with every step brings the world closer to major global conflicts.

While NATO was initially formed as a collective defense organization, it gradually evolved into an organization focused on balancing and containing Soviet influence in Europe and beyond, with Russia now taking the place of the Soviet Union in this regard. In my opinion, the main problem of NATO is its unipolarity, where decisions are made by one country with the rest simply agreeing to them.