Friday marked the conclusion of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Ufa, Russia. Commenting on the growing role of the organization in regional security affairs, Expert.ru columnist Gevorg Mirzayan explained that the SCO’s importance and relevance are increasing with each passing year, along with the tasks entrusted to it.
Recalling that the SCO was originally “established as a Russian-Chinese institute for solving border issues,” Mirzayan underscored that “over the last several years, the organization has turned into a serious player in the Asian security space. The Ufa summit saw, for the first time, the organization’s expansion, with the signing of the document on India and Pakistan’s early admission becoming one of the highlights of the summit.”
Speaking at the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the admission of India and Pakistan “open[ed] a new level in the SCO’s development,” adding that given the history of tensions between the two countries, “we sincerely hope that the SCO platform will become another forum where we will be able to look for compromises for disputed issues together.”
“And Putin’s hopes were immediately realized,” Mirzayan noted. “On the sidelines of the summit, the prime ministers of the two conflicting countries held closed-door talks, which resulted in an agreement by the Indian leader to visit Pakistan for the summit of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation.” The analyst emphasized that “of course, joint participation in the SCO will not resolve all the problems in Indo-Pakistani relations. However, the very fact of this participation has turned the SCO into a platform where the leaders of India and Pakistan will be able to regularly shake hands, and to discuss problems in bilateral relations.”
Prospects for Future Expansion?
With India and Pakistan’s addition bringing the total number of members in the SCO to eight (including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) Mirzayan noted that “in the near future, the new members may be joined by others as well.” One particularly important prospective member, in the analyst’s view, is Iran. “Like China and Russia, Tehran is interested in stability in Afghanistan, as well as the elimination of the various representatives of Sunni extremism and terrorism.”
Full article: SCO Turning Into a Serious Player in the Asian Security Space (Sputnik News)