Sergei Lavrov: Esteemed colleagues, welcome to Moscow!
Today's meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs opens the final stage of preparations for the SCO Council of Heads of State Meeting in Ufa. We are paying very close attention to this work. As Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed at a meeting with us earlier today, the SCO's consolidation and development is among Russia's foreign policy priorities.
In the agreed-upon package of documents that are being submitted for the consideration of our countries' leaders, the SCO Development Strategy Towards 2025 holds a special place. Its implementation is designed to give the organisation significant momentum to advance to a new level of cooperation. Drafts of the Ufa declaration, draft statements in connection with the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism in World War II and statements regarding the problem of the drug threat also contain important provisions and major joint assessments.
Matters related to the expansion of our organisation, based on the fundamental principle of openness, are of key significance for the SCO's future. Practical steps are being prepared toward this end, the need for which is evident from the growing interest in SCO activities on the part of other states and international organisations. This was also emphasised by the President at the Kremlin meeting.
Naturally, today, we will discuss the situation in the region and the world as a whole amid the growing impact of global challenges and threats in the SCO space. This discussion will continue tomorrow at a regional security conference, which will also be attended by high representatives of SCO observer states and dialogue partners.
On the whole, our agenda is wide-ranging, but I am sure that we will be able to work effectively thanks to the efficient preparations made by senior officials, our deputies and other experts. I would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to all of them. Thank you!