VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon dear friends and colleagues.

I am very glad to be able to welcome the participants of the first meeting of the heads of parliament of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states. And I am confident that the heads of state will support this initiative at the forthcoming summit in Shanghai.

This initiative really opens a new and important area of cooperation for our organization. Establishing a system of interparliamentary relations on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is yet more proof that the organization is developing in a dynamic way. And we expect that cooperation between our parliaments will significantly enrich our countries’ partnership.

I share the opinions and tasks contained in the declaration you made today. I am convinced that if the legislative organs engage in harmonious work to provide a legal base for cooperation within the organization then this will increase its effectiveness. Of course, first and foremost this concerns harmonizing national legislations and speeding up ratification procedures. Increasing parliamentary contacts expands the SCO’s political and social base. It will enable the organization to use its full potential as a unique platform for a respectful, constructive dialogue between cultures and civilizations. I am referring not only to our six countries but the SCO’s largest arena which also includes observers such as India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia.

I will emphasize that the Russian Federation always considers active participation in all aspects of the SCO’s activities an essential part of its foreign policy. We are going to continue to try and increase the SCO’s role and opportunities. Let me remind you that our organization was established at the end of a long process of increasing mutual trust. So it is no surprise that after such preparation, in only five years the SCO quickly became a full player in international affairs and an influential regional organization.

Today it solves serious tasks with respect to political and economic relations, counterterrorism and, I must say, acts as a good example of an equal partnership based on a shared interest in participating in effective joint actions. Capable integration that includes respect for each other’s sovereignty and originality results in real advantages. In its own way this is the SCO’s business card. There are precise and clear principles at the foundations of our organization, principles such as mutual trust, discussing any problems in a constructive way, consulting one another. In practice, these priorities contribute to the SCO’s positive image among the international community. International interest in the SCO is increasing — we see this and are pleased with it.

We also see certain attempts to compete with our organization in the international arena. But I do not think that it is necessary to start competing with anyone. Rather, we should continue to engage in positive constructive work just as we have done in previous years.

I am convinced that it is in our mutual interests that the SCO develops as the effective guarantor of stability and security in Eurasia. To do so it is necessary to improve the quality of work done within the organization and attain practical results that strengthen consolidation within the SCO. It is in this field that our countries’ members of parliament can make an appreciable and significant contribution. I am confident that all of our colleagues who are gathered in Moscow today will be able to do this.

For its part Russia will make all necessary efforts to support your initiatives.

Thank you very much for your attention.