SCO Tashkent summit reiterates adherence to regional stability
|Strategies for fighting the "three evil forces", namely terrorism, separatism and extremism; safeguarding security and stability; and advancing pragmatic cooperation were the focal points of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tashkent on 11 June. |
A record number of representatives attended this year's summit, reflecting SCO's growing influence, Xinhua reported. The Tashkent summit reviewed the achievements the organization has made in the past year, studied the opportunities and challenges it faced under the current regional and international situation and charted a course for future development.
Another aim of the summit was to strengthen unity and cooperation, maintain stability and pursue common development in the region.
STABILITY IN KYRGYZSTAN
The Tashkent Declaration, issued at the close of the summit, touched on the SCO's common approach to developments in Kyrgyzstan.
The SCO agreed to assist Bishkek in faster legitimization of the new authorities there in the run-up to a national referendum scheduled for 27 June.
The SCO will send observers to Kyrgyzstan, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in the Uzbek capital. He called Kyrgyzstan Russia's "ally and a close partner".
"The attention paid to Kyrgyzstan during the summit was easily explained by the coincidence of the summit with the riots in Osh," Leonid Sedov, political analyst in Moscow's Levada Center think-tank, said after the summit.
"It is a palpable example of extremism which is considered to be one of the 'three evil forces'. SCO countries would try by all means to prevent the deterioration of the situation in Kyrgyzstan."
IRAN REMAINED ON SCO FRINGES
During the summit, participants approved the SCO Rules of Procedure, and a process for future membership expansion.
Medvedev called these rules "an important internal corporative document". Still, as Uzbek Presidnt Islam Karimov noted, this did not mean the bloc's "automatic expansion" but only created the judicial base for such an expansion.
Iran has long been seeking membership of the six-member alliance, which was established in 2001 to ensure security along the border between China and former Soviet republics. Nevertheless, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was on a visit to Dushanbe, Tajikistan this week, did not attend the SCO Tashkent summit.
Ahmadinejad "received an invitation in due time, like other participants, confirmed (his participation) and then it was up to him to decide," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said of the Iranian leader's absence.
Analysts believe the Iranian President, whose country has observer status at the SCO along with India, Pakistan and Mongolia, decided to snub the meeting over Russia's support of new sanctions by the U.N. Security Council.
"As for Iran, it is clear that neither Russia nor China want the SCO to be in opposition to the rest of the world. The SCO leaders made it clear that a country subject to international sanctions cannot become an SCO member," Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of the Russia in Global Affairs Magazine, said.
"Given the marked deterioration in Russian-Iranian relations, Tehran has little chance of being admitted in the near future", Lukyanov, who is also a Member of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, said.
RUSSIA AND CHINA STILL SCO'S CORNERSTONES
All-party talks were accompanied by a series of bilateral meetings at the highest level on the sidelines of the summit.
Russian and Chinese presidents held separate talks on political contacts, cooperation in solving pressing international problems and trade and economic relations.
Medvedev and China's President Hu Jintao also exchanged views on issue for the G20 and the G8 summits, due to take place in Canada shortly.
They also spoke on humanitarian cooperation and the financial and economic situation in the world, other issues on the international agenda, including further SCO activities, the situation in Central Asian, Pakistan, the Korean Peninsula and Afghanista. The SCO is one of the most influential regional organizations in the world, being the only one that includes both Russia and China.
In Tashkent, Hu made a six-point proposal on boosting SCO cooperation, including strengthening mutual trust, stepping up counter-terrorism efforts, improving SCO institutional building and decision-making mechanism, and promoting its transparency and inclusiveness.
AFGHANISTAN: A MAIN CONCERN FOR SCO
The narrow format talks in Tashkent focused on prospects for Afghanistan's further political development.
Because of their proximity to Afghanistan or vulnerability to Afghan-originated drug-trafficking, SCO member-states have a strong interest in stabilising the situation there. They developed a comprehensive strategic approach to this issue.
The SCO's members noted the situation in Afghanistan remained the main threat to security in the region.
"The SCO decided it can assume responsibility for the future of Afghanistan. The SCO appears to be the only organization able to take the lead in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces," expert Lukyanov said.
He said the SCO included two regional superpowers, Russia and China, and also the countries of the region with geopolitical concerns about the situation in Afghanistan. "So the SCO is holding all the cards," Lukyanov said.
SCO leaders declared that lasting peace in Afghanistan would be only possible if all the groups within he country found a consensus.
Alexander Rar, an expert from the Russia-Eurasia Center, said on Friday: "The drug threat has been more dangerous than a threat from international terrorism. For Russia, coping with the international drug business has become the major objective now."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai attended the Tashkent summit as a guest of honour.
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