The Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) is “not an elite club” and is open for interaction with non-member states, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has said.
Medvedev is in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, along with other leaders of the SCO member states, for the tenth anniversary summit of the grouping.
Founded in 2001, the SCO unites Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, while India, Mongolia, Iran and Pakistan hold observers’ status. A decade after the birth of the organization, the participants of the Astana summit are set to discuss what has been achieved so far and outline the main directions for the SCO’s future development. Also on Wednesday, Kazakhstan will pass the rotating chairmanship of the union to China.
President Medvedev, speaking at the session, said that the SCO is open for co-operation with non-member states.
“It is not an elite club, but an organization that is ready to co-operate with other countries,” he noted, as cited by Interfax. Medvedev believes that the adoption of the Memorandum on Responsibilities for countries applying for membership will become an important step in development of the SCO.
The president also noted that Moscow supports the idea of establishing stronger and multi-aspect co-operation with Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic is seeking an observer status in the organization and has submitted a respective application.
“Afghanistan is our neighbor and its participation in the SCO activity could be closer,” Medvedev pointed out, adding that other summit participants share the same view. He went on to say that the security of SCO states to a large extent depends on the political stability in Afghanistan.
The republic’s President Hamid Karzai – who is also in Astana – expressed hope that the SCO would open its door for Kabul and thanked Moscow for urging Afghanistan to file the application.
In the past decade, the group of six states has lived through a chain of dramatic events, beginning with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, moving through the Global Financial Crisis, instability in the Middle East, Kyrgyz uprising in spring 2010, and the so-called Arab Spring – a wave of protests and revolutions that recently swept through Arab world.
Summing up the results of the SCO activities, President Medvedev stated that the “strategic” decision to found the unity was “correct and farsighted”. Since 2001, the SCO has gained a foothold as an important forum which is recognized by “influential” international organizations. Strengthening security of the member states and their people remains one of the key tasks of the unity, the Russian president said, adding that this topic was high on the agenda during the summit session.
Dr. Fariborz Saremi, a TV and radio commentator on Middle East issues, says that the SCO now has different interests from those of the US in the Middle East. He says the US is losing influence in a region that is an ascending economic power.
“The SCO is not purely a military organization, but it is more an economic security organization, which has its own interest in Central Asia and the Middle East, and this interest can be different from the US and NATO interests. Russia and China are ascending powers in the globe. And unfortunately the US and Western allies are descending due to the economic problems and economic tensions that they have, while China and Russia are economically ascending.”