The leaders of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are gathering once again for a summit to discuss issues of regional cooperation – this time in Uzbekistan’s capital of Samarkand.
The summit, which will take place on September 15 and 16, will be attended by the leaders of all member states: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. All of the observer states, namely Belarus, Iran, Mongolia and Afghanistan, are also expected to attend the event.
Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet several of his colleagues during the summit, including the presidents of China, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, as well as the prime ministers of India and Pakistan.
President of the host country, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, described the summit’s key topic as maintaining “dialogue and partnership in an interconnected world”. He said that the upcoming summit might become a turning point for the international organization and serve as a start for new “inclusive dialogue”
based on mutual respect, trust and constructive cooperation between the countries.
“[The SCO summit in] Samarkand may become the very platform that can unite and reconcile states with different foreign policy priorities,” he said.
President Mirziyoyev also singled out the situation in observer state Afghanistan as another issue requiring discussion. The country underwent a transition of power following the withdrawal of NATO troops in August last year with the Taliban*, an organization slapped with international sanctions, securing control over Kabul.
Mirziyoyev called on the other SCO members to develop relations with the republic and support it in such tough times.
“[Afghanistan] is an integral part of the large SCO space. The Afghan people need good neighbors and their support more than ever. Our moral obligation is to extend a helping hand, to offer them effective ways out of the multi-year crisis,” the president said.
Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov separately noted that the SCO is increasingly becoming a real alternative to western-centric structures and mechanisms. He hailed the international body for being “committed to the formation of a more representative, democratic, just and multipolar world order, which is based on the universally recognized principles of international law.”
New Member and Observer States on Horizon?
The SCO space, said Mirziyoyev, might soon expand as two observer states, Belarus and Iran, are seeking to become fully-fledged members. It is unclear, however, if either of them will be accepted during the September summit.
Several more countries are likewise seeking observer status – namely Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal. Three more are expected to be named “dialogue partners”
, a lesser status within the SCO structure, during the summit in Samarkand – Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, while two more, Bahrain and Maldives, will be launching the procedure of obtaining this status.