Sep 16, 2022
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New pole gains momentum: SCO summit unnerves the West

In the photo: participants of the summit of the Shanghai Organization

In the photo: participants of the summit of the Shanghai Organization (Photo: Sergey Bobylev / TASS)

September 16 is the second day of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, held in Samarkand. For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the leaders of the SCO states are meeting in person in full force (and these, we recall, are the leaders of Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). In addition, the summit is attended by representatives of other countries that could potentially become members of the organization.

In fact, one of the main results of the first day was the signing by Iran of a memorandum on joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which paves the way for it to become a full member of the SCO – previously Iran was in the status of an observer. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko also expressed a desire to become a full member of the organization.

President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyev announced the start of the procedure for granting Belarus the status of a full member of the SCO, as well as granting the status of partners of the organization to Bahrain, the Maldives, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Myanmar.

If the first day was marked by bilateral meetings, where the partners discussed infrastructure projects and prospects for the development of relations, then on the second day the heads of state took part in a meeting of the SCO Council and made a number of policy statements. So, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated that the member countries will have to transform the SCO into a global economic platform. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin pointed out that irreversible transformations are taking place in world politics and the economy, and the SCO will play an important role in them, since cooperation in it “is built on approaches devoid of selfishness in politics and economics”, in contrast to the approach of Western countries.

The fact that the summit is being held in such a representative format against the backdrop of worsening relations between Russia and the Western world speaks very eloquently of the fact that the building of the very multipolarity that Vladimir Putin often talks about is in full swing. On the one hand, Americans and Europeans declare the complete isolation of Russia, on the other hand, even in the current composition of the SCO, it captures at least a quarter of the earth’s land, and the population exceeds a third of the planet. And that’s not counting observers and dialogue partners, which include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and others.

Against this background, the role of the SCO will inevitably increase. This organization can become a platform that will go beyond the regional framework and begin to influence global processes. Former SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov told TASS that at the moment about 10 applications for membership or observer status are already on the “desktop” of the SCO member countries.

According to Alimov, the SCO attracts with its ideals and principles, “being neither a military-political nor an economic union.” He added that the strength of the organization is the equality and unity of its members, regardless of size and economic potential, as well as a common interest in jointly solving acute problems, so the SCO can act as a prototype for future international relations.

However, what the former secretary general calls as pluses, some experts consider a minus, reproaching the SCO for being too vague. In addition, the organization includes countries with too conflicting interests, such as India and Pakistan or China and India. On the eve of the summit on September 14, an escalation began on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, during which several dozen people have already suffered.

Another aggravation on the eve of the summit is between the SCO dialogue partner states, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Because of this, the President of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan even decided not to come to Samarkand, although he had originally planned to do so.

On the other hand, the activation of the SCO cannot but disturb the West, therefore, although it smacks of conspiracy theories, it is possible that these aggravations are not accidental.

Director General of the Institute of Regional Problems Dmitry Zhuravlev believes that under the current conditions, the SCO may well transform into a full-fledged military-political and economic bloc, despite the disagreements between the participating countries.

— I think that there is a great chance that the SCO will become one of the centers of the multipolar world, since I don’t have any other military-political structure in the world after the end of the Warsaw Pact, capable of, if not opposing NATO, then at least commensurate with it. I see. This is both an economic and military-political association, unlike, for example, the EAEU, which is a purely economic bloc and does not discuss military issues.

The SCO includes various countries, including China, which has a huge not only economic, but also military potential, which has not yet been realized. Although the economic direction is in the forefront, military interaction becomes more relevant in the current situation, especially in light of Ukraine and Taiwan. Obviously, the SCO’s capabilities will grow. But about the fact that the capabilities of NATO will greatly increase Ukraine, I have big doubts.

“SP”: – The aggravation on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan on the eve of the summit – is this not a signal to the participating countries?

– I think this is connected not so much with the SCO summit, but with American support for Ukraine. We have quite a lot of troops, and only one army participates in the NMD. The United States needs to prevent the transfer of troops as much as possible, so they do not allow it as best they can. The fact that it coincided with the SCO summit is rather a plus for us, since we can try to quickly resolve this conflict on this site.

Speaking globally, the SCO is a kind of collective that the West has to reckon with. The collapse of the SCO is America’s dream.

“SP”: – That is, they see a competitor in this organization?

“Not just a competitor. You see, if Ivan Petrovich’s ears are put to Ivan Ivanovich’s nose, that is, our military arsenal is added to the economic power of China, America will have serious problems. Separately, we would be strangled with sanctions, and the Chinese would be beaten with something heavy so that they know their place. But when we’re together, it doesn’t work that way.

Head of the Center for Global Studies and International Relations of the IAMP Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Vadim Kozyulin believes that economic cooperation will now come to the fore in the SCO.

— We see an increase in activity from all SCO members. Firstly, the covid has slowed down all meetings and processes for two years, so now all the accumulated topics have been discussed. Secondly, new global processes are indeed taking place, there is talk of a real multipolarity emerging in the world, and this is also leaving its mark.

Many international organizations are losing their importance today, for example, the OSCE, from which only one shell remains. Many criticize the UN for being slow and bureaucratic. The West, on the other hand, is forming new organizations – QUAD (Australia, India, the USA and Japan), “Middle East NATO”, Britain is creating its own bloc in Eastern Europe. Where old international organizations are weakening, new ones are beginning to emerge, and what will come of it is still difficult to say. But the West has already launched this process, and, importantly, in the military sphere. We see that the United States forms, first of all, military blocs, and only then economic ones.

SP: Can the SCO resist this?

— The SCO today is not a military organization. Traditionally, it was dominated by the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and extremism. But other components were also in mind, and today they come to the fore. First of all, this is the economic agenda, we see many economic projects that are being discussed in Samarkand today. Perhaps, these issues are being discussed so actively on this site for the first time. Iran joins the SCO, the situation in Afghanistan has changed, and it needs to be involved in the global agenda, Russia and China are expanding cooperation, and so on.

The SCO is developing, it is a young organization that is supposed to grow, especially since there is a demand and opportunities. I would like to note that the SCO is attractive because all issues are resolved there on the principles of consensus, that is, all participants have an equal vote, regardless of the size and status of the state. Therefore, it is interesting for small states to participate in such an association, they get the opportunity to declare their own interests, which will be taken into account in this organization.

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