Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the official reception for the SCO Foreign Ministers Council, Moscow, September 9, 2020

We have gathered here and will start our work now. Our main task is to prepare for the meeting of the Heads of State Council, as President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin just said. The summit is bound to become the key event of Russia’s chairmanship. In our work, we are primarily guided by the Russian chairmanship’s action plan, which was endorsed by the President of Russia and approved by the other heads of state.

You mentioned the adjustments that the coronavirus infection has forced, but on the whole we have made progress in most of the planned tasks. We are preparing a substantial package of documents and decisions. There are about 20 of them right now. We will do all we can in cooperation with the other departments and our branch colleagues to prepare a quality package of documents for the upcoming summit in November.

We plan to reflect the principled attitudes of the SCO countries towards world and regional affairs in the final political declaration and in the statements, one of which will be devoted to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War whereas the others will concern a number of urgent international issues.

We are preparing an action plan on implementing the SCO strategy until 2025. It will contain specific steps in politics, security, the economy and humanitarian ties. We are also working on important documents on economic cooperation. I am primarily referring to the concept of cooperation on developing remote and rural territories in the digital era, documents on a data bank of best practices in developing remote areas, and a roadmap on a gradual transition to conducting mutual transactions in national currencies. All of these projects are being actively coordinated. I expect them to be submitted for consideration by the heads of state.

A memorandum of understanding between the SCO Secretariat and the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) is being drafted with a view to promoting SCO foreign ties and the initiative on creating the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

The accumulated experience of our joint efforts to counter the coronavirus is reflected in the draft comprehensive plan on resisting the threats of epidemics in the region’s space. The plan was made by the sanitary and epidemiological services of our countries.

By tradition, at tomorrow’s meeting, we will exchange views on strengthening the current system of international relations with the central coordinating role of the UN and the Security Council. We will compare our positions on key global and regional issues, including the state of affairs in strategic stability, response to challenges and threats to security, and the situations in Afghanistan, Syria and with the JCPOA on Iran’s nuclear programme.

We will certainly discuss ways to upgrade the SCO’s practical work, including expanding membership and the number of observer states, which you just mentioned.

We intend to do constructive work and today’s meeting with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin will impart more enthusiasm to our discussions tomorrow.