Q1/2019 - BRICS

Brasilia, January 2019

On 1 January 2019, Brazil assumed the presidency of BRICS. However, until the end of March 2019, no concrete plans had been presented how Brazil intended to shape its presidency. The presidential election in Brazil in 2018 have caused considerable irritations with regard to the future ability of the five-state BRICS group to agree on joint projects and policies. Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil, takes a very critical position to China and Russia. Therefore it remains to be seen, in how far the joint enterprises of the by now roughly 50 BRICS working groups, including that dealing with cyber security and digital trade, can be implemented in 2019. In 2020 the rotating BRICS presidency will pass on to Russia.

On 28 February 2018, the foreign ministers of China, Russia and India met in the Chinese city of Wuzhen and agreed a more intensive trilateral cooperation. Even though the closing document points out that the three countries continue to support BRICS, one cannot avoid the impression that the new trilateral group – which operates under the acronym “RIC” (Russia, India, China) – might continue the projects started under BRICS without the involvement of South Africa and Brazil.

Closely related to BRICS is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which was founded already in 1998. The SCO now has eight members – China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan – as well as about 20 observers and so-called dialogue partners (including Israel, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Nepal).

The SCO has dealt regularly with the issue of cyber security in the recent years and is working out its own multilateral agreement to combat cyber crime.On 1 January 2019, Vladimir Norov, former foreign minister of Uzbekistan, was elected new SCO Secretary General. In the 2000s, Norov had been Uzbekistan’s ambassador to Germany. One of his first official acts in this position had been to arrange a meeting with the Secretary General of Interpol, Jürgen Stock. The topics on the agenda included potential solutions for enhancing cyber security and combating cyber crime in the so-called darknet.

The next SCO summit is scheduled for 14 and 15 June 2019 in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

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