By Konstantin Garibov
A summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has opened in Beijing. The Shanghai Organization is an alliance between Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, concluded for cooperation in economy, fighting against terrorism and in some other spheres.
On July 6, the heads of the above-mentioned countries will discuss issues of security in Asia. The next day, representatives of Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran will join the summit (these countries have the status of observers in the Shanghai Organization). Representatives of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan have also been invited to this summit as guests.
The summit’s agenda will include several bilateral meeting between the presidents. For example, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is going to meet with the presidents of Afghanistan and Iran.
The leaders of “the Shanghai Six” are panning to adopt a new strategy for the Shanghai Organization. The current document to this end was adopted 3 years ago, and some points in it have already become outdated. In particular, new threats of terrorist attacks have appeared since that time.
The new document is intended to open broader possibilities of cooperation between these countries in emergency situations – for example, in the evacuation of people. It will also lay down the legal foundations for financial, economic and humanitarian cooperation. The new program will also allow to send international missions of the Shanghai Organizations to any of its member countries in case of an emergency situation there, in order to better get acquainted with the situation on the spot. Besides, the new document will lift many restrictions on exchanging information and rescue equipment between these countries.
Another document which the summit’s participants are expected to adopt is a program for fighting against terrorism, separatism and extremism. The politicians hope that this program will help to block several channels of financing terrorists.
It is also expected that Afghanistan may receive the status of an observer in the Shanghai Organization. Yuri Morozov from the Russian Institute of the Far East says:
“After the US forces leave Afghanistan in 2014, radical Islamists in Afghanistan will practically remain uncontrolled. But if Afghanistan receives the status of an observer in the Shanghai Organization, this organization will be able to dictate certain conditions to the Afghan authorities in order to make them fight against terrorism in their country.”
“Besides, after the US and NATO’s forces leave Afghanistan, somebody will have to help Afghanistan to restore its ruined economy. The countries of the Shanghai Organization are quite capable of that. It meets their interests.”
“Russia is especially interested in restoring the Afghan infrastructure,” Mr. Morozov continues. “There are 43 facilities in Afghanistan which were built with the help of the Soviet Union and which now need restoration.”
Another Russian political analyst, Stanislav Tarasov, calls this summit unique.
“The unique thing about this summit is that not only Afghanistan, but Turkey as well, may get the status of an observer in the Shanghai Organization. However, many analysts have strong doubts about whether this is a reasonable idea. Turkey’s position concerning the Syrian issue is very different from the positions of Russia, China and Iran. In its position on Syria, Turkey is obviously backed by the West. Moreover, the Shanghai Organization is going to adopt a program on security in the Asia-Pacific region. How can Turkey be involved here? The situation with security in the Middle East is very different from that in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Several years ago, the Shanghai Organization’s leaders said that Iran, India and Pakistan may be probably made full-fledged members of this organization. However, quite a lot of time has passed since then, but this issue is still under discussion.
Russia believes that it is counterproductive to discuss this issue for such a long time. A definite decision should be taken in the nearest future. To make this process quicker, Russia has proposed to ease the procedure of accepting new members into the Shanghai Organization. Let’s hope that the current summit will finally dot all the i’s concerning this issue.