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Kazakh President urges greater cooperation between BRICS and Central Asia

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President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has addressed the BRICS summit in South Africa, in his capacity as chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. It promotes security, economic and political cooperation between Russia, China and most countries in Central and South Asia. Speaking from Astana by video link, the President said the SCO and BRICS could combine their efforts in key areas where they shared the same interests and priorities, writes Political Editor Nick Powell.

In his speech, President Tokayev stressed that they were meeting at a time of mounting tensions in the international arena, marked by extensive political pressure, confrontation and the widespread use of sanctions. He said that Kazakhstan, as one of the founding members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, is determined to use its time in the chair to transform it into a more effective organisation able to meet these challenges.

Given the interests and priorities shared by BRICS and the SCO, the President proposed that they combine their efforts in key areas and seek a suitable formula for peace, stability and security based on the UN Charter. He reminded his audience that at this year’s SCO summit he had proposed the Initiative on World Unity for Just Peace and Harmony.

“This initiative aims at making progress on global security and stability as well as establishing a more rational political and economic international order”, President Tokayev explained. He said BRICS and its BRICS Plus partners could cooperate in promoting the initiative.

He also proposed bringing together the SCO, BRICS and BRICS Plus countries in the fields of critical digital infrastructure, e-commerce and cybersecurity. He invited the BRICS Plus nations to participate in the SCO Digital Forum scheduled to take place in Kazakhstan in 2024. He also called for partner countries to join Kazakhstan trade, transport and investment projects along the North-South and East-West corridors.

“The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, which complements the crucial Belt-and-Road initiative, offers valuable trade cooperation prospects. This synergy will boost inter-regional trade and unlock the full transit and transportation potential of our respective regions”, the President said.

He also reflected on the far-reaching negative effects of climate change, which has resulted in an acceleration of severe droughts and other natural disasters affecting the Global South and Central Asia. Kazakhstan wants the SCO to declare 2024 its Year of Ecology and to spearhead efforts in addressing this pressing issue. “A timely initiative that I hope will resonate with the BRICS family”, said the President.

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His speech also covered the important topic of food security. Three of the world's four major food producers are BRICS members, and the BRICS countries account for more than half of the world’s agricultural GDP. “We must depoliticise the global supply of food and fertilisers and exclude them from any sanctions and restrictions”, he proposed.

The President of Kazakhstan reaffirmed his intention to strengthen cooperation with the African Union. “I strongly believe that we need to accelerate a collective approach towards global security, sustainable development and inclusiveness, he emphasised.

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