BEIJING, May 15. /TASS/. The potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO] in the sphere of struggle with terrorism and drug trafficking has increased after India and Pakistan became its full-fledged members, Secretary General Rashid Alimov told Russian reporters on Tuesday.
He indicated, however, there were no immediate plans for a further enlargement of the organization.
"India and Pakistan have a huge experience because they’ve already had to grapple with this evil [international terrorism] and that’s why they are well-versed in fighting with it," Alimov said. "Our antiterrorist and antidrug capabilities grew sharply after India and Pakistan joined the organization."
He recalled that India and Pakistan had long had the SCO observer status, even though they had not participated in working out its guideline documents.
"We knew who would come to us," Alimov said. "These are not the countries we’ve never worked with. These are two largest Asian powers and highly respected partners we’ve been working with over the past twelve years."
"As regards the prospects for our expansion, we don’t have this goal at present," he said. "The SCO charter says it’s an open organization but we don’t have an itch [for permanent enlargement]."
Alimov added that the number of applications for membership had increased in the past year and a half.
The SCO considers each application separately and then takes a decision by consensus on it. Not a single application remains unanswered.
"We have a three-level approach, as it were," Alimov said. "First a dialogue partner, then an observer and eventually a member. The distance can be shorter or longer depending on the fastness of ‘maturing’ of the candidate country."
The SCO’s full-fledged members are China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. Three nations Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia - have the observer status. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey are dialogue partners.