Sergey Lavrov: First of all, I'd like to thank all of you for your support of our initiative to discuss the problems of regional security in the SCO with the participation of its member-states, observers and dialogue partners.
Maintaining peace and stability in the interests of ensuring sustainable development in the region is always the SCO's top priority. Challenges to security in the SCO space continue growing and are acquiring an increasingly interconnected and comprehensive character. Of course, it is necessary to neutralise them through concerted efforts. We hope that the results of the current meeting will become a good foundation for deepening large-scale practical cooperation among our countries, both in the SCO format and with the participation of other interested states and international organisations. We always emphasise our readiness to cooperate with partners that are not SCO members.
As for the world situation in general, we have to admit that it is becoming increasingly complicated and difficult to predict. The objective process of forming a polycentric model of world order is accompanied by the aggravation of existing hotbeds of conflicts and the emergence of new ones, the weakening of the culture of compromise and mutual understanding, and the aggravation of approaches driven by confrontation. Such global problems as the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction, the shortage of food and drinking water, poverty, climate change and epidemics are still far from being resolved.
Attempts on the part of individual countries to impose their model of world order, to exert various forms of political, economic and information pressure on others and to control, from the outside, domestic political processes in sovereign states, ignoring their national, historical and civilisational features, are dangerous destabilising factors. Regrettably, the line towards subjugating the destinies of whole nations to unilateral geopolitical schemes has led to a grave domestic crisis in Ukraine. The February 12 Minsk agreements are continuously threatened with failure because the Kiev authorities are trying to evade their commitments to establish direct dialogue with Donbass.
The striving of external forces to reformat the situation in the vast areas of the Middle East and North Africa in accordance with their views by flirting with radicals has provoked an upsurge of chaos and instability there. The weakening of the state machinery has given rise to extremism and terrorism. Not so long ago the clandestine group al-Qaeda was considered the main threat, whereas now the Islamic State (IS) group is seizing weapons, arsenals and oil fields, controlling vast territories and proclaiming them a caliphate and actively implanting its orders there in full view of the watching world. IS cells are taking root in Afghanistan, including its northern areas bordering on Central Asia.
Under the circumstances one of the SCO's priorities is coordinated political assistance to restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are ready to deepen constructive cooperation with Kabul in all spheres. We believe expansion of cooperation with it in eradicating drug plantations and drug laboratories requires special attention. The production of drugs in Afghanistan and their flow to our countries are growing at menacing rates. Drug profits support terrorist gangs in that and other countries. Naturally, the efforts on countering the drug threat should be undertaken on the basis of the international system of drug control that rests on three foundational UN conventions.