Sept. 28, 2022 (EIRNS)—Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) wrapped up their two-day meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, today having discussed the agenda for the Sept. 15-16 summit of the group’s heads of state and touched on several other topics of regional and international importance—the war in Ukraine, the Afghan situation, food and energy security, the threat of global recession, and the need to cooperate on regional issues, including on projects that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Given the increasingly complex international situation, the ministers stressed the importance of safeguarding regional security and stability.
One expert cited by Global Times noted the attractiveness of the SCO to many neighboring countries, given its emphasis on cooperation and regional development. Members also discussed ongoing cooperation for SCO expansion. Belarus’s application for full membership was discussed according to BeLTA news agency. SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming reported that the SCO has received 11 applications to join the organization in one or another capacity, or to upgrade existing status. He mentioned that at the Sept. 15-16 heads-of-state summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, “we expect the SCO heads of state to adopt a memorandum of obligations for the Islamic Republic of Iran to receive SCO membership.”
It was stressed that SCO expansion is not a response to NATO expansion but rather related to SCO’s focus on regional cooperation rather than confrontation.
On the sidelines of the conference, there were several bilateral meetings, including one between China’s Wang Yi and Russia’s Sergey Lavrov. A meeting between Wang and Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar had been mooted but it’s not clear whether it took place, given tensions between those two nations. Jaishankar did meet with Lavrov. Wang also met with Uzbek Acting Foreign Minister Norov Vladimir Imamovich to stress their excellent relationship and Imamovich’s commitment to Uzbek development and revitalization.
Lavrov and Wang had a substantive discussion, TASS reported, stressing, among other things, the SCO’s leading role “in building a regional security architecture and its constructive contribution to the process of maintaining peace and stability and ensuring economic development in Eurasia,” according to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Ministers from all eight member countries attended the summit: China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Currently Belarus, Afghanistan, Iran, and Mongolia are observer nations. Dialogue partners are Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.
SCO Opens in Tajikistan: Pakistan’s Imran Khan Calls for Replacing Geo-politics With Geo-economics —
Sept. 16, 2021 (EIRNS)—The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is convening at the head-of-state level in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, with the crisis in Afghanistan the major immediate challenge to their 20-year mission. The eight SCO countries—China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—become nine with full membership granted to Iran. (Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia are “Observer States”; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey are “Dialogue Partners.”)
Early reports indicate multiple “sideline” meetings of the leaders of various countries. In particular, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was quite busy on Thursday, meeting on the sidelines with Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He had a more extensive bilateral meeting with Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on “trade, investment and transportation links.”
He had been welcomed at Dushanbe’s airport by Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon. According to the statement released by the Pakistani government, he described an upgrading of the two countries’ engagement—what he termed his “Vision Central Asia” policy—and emphasized connectivity and Pakistan’s “pivotal position in providing the shortest access route to the sea.” His key example of connectivity was the Trans-Afghan railway project connecting Termez/Mazar-e-Sharif/Kabul/Jalalabad/Peshawar. His statement repeated the need to transform from “geo-politics” to “geo-economics.”
He also addressed the new Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum on expanding the “minuscule” $80 million of trade. He declared that Pakistan would expedite work on the CASA-1000 power transmission line to benefit from “your clean and cheap energy [such as] hydroelectricity”, too much lacking in Pakistan. Otherwise, he stated that he would work with President Rahmon to stabilize Afghanistan: “We will be doing our best to make sure they get together and there is an inclusive government.”
Central Asian Heads of State Meet in Turkmenistan on Energy, Transit Corridors and Fighting the Pandemic –
Aug. 6 (EIRNS)–Today the Third Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia was held in Turkmenistan, at the Caspian Sea resort town of Avaza, bringing together the presidents of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrghizstan, plus others including Natalia Gherman, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia. There were many parallel sessions, including the Economic Forum of the Central Asian Nations.
Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said during his speech, “Based on UN documents, we are moving towards the formation in Central Asia of favorable political-legal and economic conditions for a safe, sustainable energy partnership focused on meeting regional energy demand and on accessing world markets through international transit corridors.” Another focus was collaboration against the COVID-19 pandemic. Including furthering joint research on mutations, as well as methods of treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. The heads of state issued a statement.