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SCO a 'Strong Voluntary Economic Forum' For Confidence-Building

© Sputnik / Zafar Khalilov / Go to the mediabankIran joined the SCO
Iran joined the SCO - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.07.2024
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit is being held in the Kazakh capital Astana on July 3 and 4, under the theme of "Strengthening Multilateral Dialogue - the Pursuit of Sustainable Peace and Development." Belarus will join the group at the summit.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has the potential “to become a strong trading and economic forum.
Dr Anuradha Chenoy, retired professor of the Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Sputnik that was why all ten member states "have eagerly sought to be included in this organization."

"The SCO is a voluntary platform focusing on common economic and security interests, and it has cultural understanding of each other," she pointed out. "Moreover, these countries do not believe in interfering in each other’s domestic affairs."

The SCO's current members are India, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia have observer status while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bahrain, Egypt, Cambodia, Qatar, Kuwait, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners. Since the Astana summit, Belarus becomes a full-fledged SCO member.

Belarus’ accession to the SCO "fortifies the undeniable Eurasian nature of the SCO," Chenoy said, adding that the organization be seen as "both regional and Eurasian since Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan straddle Eurasia, while India and China are clearly Asian. Iran is part of West Asia and shows again the contiguity of geography that ties this region naturally."

“It shows the continuity of this geographical entity despite political and nationally drawn borders," the academic said. "It shows that geography cannot be denied, and that regional cooperation based on an understanding that security and sovereignty issues must be based on constant engagement and conversations between nations and peoples.”

The admission of Belarus to the SCO at its annual summit in Astana will boost the grouping’s role as a “geopolitical counterweight to Western institutions led by the United States and its allies,” Western media outlets acknowledged.
They underscored that the 10 member platform from now on will “represent more than 40% of the world’s population and roughly a quarter of the global economy.”
Indeed, the SCO countries can utilize the platform to connect with each other as they share “many common interests and concerns of security like terrorism, cross border trafficking, migration, possibility of spillover from conflicts in the region and many other issues that can best be collectively challenged,” emphasized Dr Chenoy.
Weighing in on how the expansion of the SCO may affect the collective West, the retired professor noted that “the idea of Eurasia and an assertion of the rights of former colonised people does not go down well with them.”

"The collective West is divided by the Atlantic and their idea of the West is based on being on being ‘exceptional’ and possessing the right to dominate and set rules for the rest of the world- rules that suit the Western elites mainly. The truth is that the global majority seeks pluralism and does not want war or threaten the West," speculated the analyst.

"That is only part of their imagination, that the rise of Eurasia or the rise of any other country threatens the West," she added. "Therefore the expansion of the SCO may be challenged by some forces in the West."
Looking ahead, Dr Chenoy argued that the SCO can never be a military security organization, but "only be a forum where security issues are discussed and that focuses on peace and tranquility in the region."

"This SCO Forum allows the members to meet regularly and this itself encourages them to build confidence. It provides an opportunity to view international issues collectively and then engage with each other as a group," she concluded.

The SCO summit, hosted by Astana from July 3 to 4 under the slogan "Strengthening Multilateral Dialogue - the Pursuit of Sustainable Peace and Development", is expected to result in a package of 24 joint documents and adopt a final declaration.
SCO Summit - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.07.2023
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