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SCO Tashkent summit to focus on security, economic coordination

09.06.2010



The 10th annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), set for 10-11 June in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, will discuss key regional and global problems.

It also will consider issues of strengthening stability and security in Central Asia and the expansion of SCO contacts with other multilateral organizations.

As the organization has developed and found its own position in regional and world affairs, the objective of the SCO now is to complement and coordinate, not to compete, especially in security and economic issues, analysts say.

REGIONAL SECURITY: COMMON GROUND

Some experts believe the strongest aspect of the SCO is that it is a convenient place for dialogue on security in Central Asia, including Afghan factors such as drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime. Currently, the SCO has been invited to every major international event related to Afghanistan.

Irina Kobrinskaya, an expert at the Russian Global Economy and International Affairs Institute, told Xinhua on the eve of the summit that common interests inside the bloc include regional security, mainly in Afghanistan.

The aims of the member centuries' foreign policies are different, but the threat to their security originates from a common source, he said.

Besides issues related to the Afghan situation, stability in Kyrgyzstan will be another hot issue at the upcoming summit.

Experts expect that the Kyrgyz delegation will be very active during the summit. The recent incidents in Kyrgyzstan leaves its leaders no choice but to ask for financial assistance and moral support from more powerful neighbors.

"When five years ago there was turbulence in Kyrgyzstan, the SCO helped to downgrade the level of adversity there. Now the situation in Kyrgyzstan is rather similar to that in 2005. The SCO plays its role again to decrease the tension on the borders, provide assistance to Kyrgyzstan," said Leonid Moiseev, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's special representative for SCO affairs.

ECONOMY: DIFFERENT PATHS

In economical areas, the SCO still has much to discuss during the summit and much to do in the post-crisis times, Moiseev said. "For example, to develop transport corridors in the region. The SCO is an integral link between Central Asia and Europe. SCO space will host the highway linking Western Europe and China," he said.

"The UN and the Asian Development Bank recognized the SCO role in this project. Every country builds its section of the highway separately, and the SCO works with communications, pace of building, border issues, types of cargo delivered."

Trade and economic cooperation among SCO members has seen rapid development since the establishment of the bloc. However, experts also warn that the economic weight and developing paths are quite different among SCO members.

"On the one hand, people expect some really breathtaking prospects of the SCO as an economic alliance. On the other hand, the fact is that economic weights of SCO members are too different," Kobrinskaya said. "So the six members still need time to try to find common grounds in economic sphere. I don't expect there will be some real breakthrough in Tashkent summit."

Alexander Lukin, director for the Center for East Asia and SCO Studies at Moscow State University for International Relations, echoed the point. "The SCO's development bank of foundation has still been on paper only. Now the member states consider creation of a special account for the multipartite projects. Until then, these projects will remain stranded," he said.

POSSIBLE EXPANSION

Another possible topic for the Tashkent summit would be the admission order for new members, "the first time in the organization's history," Moiseev said.

The bloc, started in 1996 as a "Shanghai group of five" including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for trans-border cooperation, was joined by Uzbekistan in June 2001. After that, the organization was renamed to Shanghai Cooperation Organization and embraced nearly a quarter of the world's population.

Several countries, including Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran, India, participate in SCO work in an observer's capacity.

Interest in working with the SCO has been growing in the world, from the European Union to the United States, Lukin said. "If the principles will be agreed, the issue of expansion could be mentioned. Iran and Pakistan, currently observers, applied to join," he said.

"Besides, at the previous summit, new partners for dialogue had been introduced and given to Belarus and Sri Lanka. It shows the growing interest to the SCO in the world."


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