MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has turned into a powerful and influential organization during 15 years of its fruitful activity, Russian presidential envoy for SCO affairs and the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador-at-Large Bakhtier Khakimov has told TASS.
He noted that over the past 15 years the SCO has established itself as an authoritative international organization that actively promotes stronger regional and global security and effectively counters the challenges and threats facing the modern world. "The SCO has grown beyond the limits of a conventional regional association acquiring significant influence in global politics," Khakimov said. "Now it is of paramount importance to consolidate this role, particularly, by promoting the areas where we have made good progress, namely, political dialogue, the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and the economic component."
"The jubilee summit of the SCO member-countries in Tashkent on June 23-24 will be an important milestone in the history of the organization and set even more important goals and objectives for the association," the envoy said. "In general, we are hoping to achieve a major package of solutions, with the implementation of the Ufa summit decisions on SCO expansion being the key issue."
Khakimov noted that "we are talking about signing the memorandums on the commitments of India and Pakistan on their membership in the organization." "There will be no SCO restructuring with the admission of new member-countries," he said. "The expansion process requires some adjustment of cooperation mechanisms. Specifically, it is necessary to adapt new members, help them fit in with this association. However, with the emergence of such players and New Delhi and Islamabad the SCO’s potential increases dramatically. This includes the expansion of its economic and political components."
Referring to Iran as a SCO membership candidate, Khakimov added that all SCO member-countries "confirm their fundamental support for Iran, which applied for SCO membership in 2008." "We highly appreciate the fact that Iran has been working within the SCO framework since 2005," he said. "Iran abides by all the terms. Moreover, the Russian side believes that the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to resolve the situation around Iran’s nuclear program removes the formal obstacles that used to exist."
"Currently, Iran is not sanctioned by the UN over the situation around Tehran’s nuclear program," the envoy said. "However, there are some nuances, including bilateral disagreements in the approaches towards the procedure of Tehran’s accession to the SCO, so the question of the final decision on Iran remains open, but the work is in progress," he added.
According to Khakimov, the SCO member-countries should boost coordination in the economic sphere. "The current cooperation is not enough," he said. "We would like these processes to be open, mutually supportive, take into account the interests of all participants in economic relations and not to undermine the system that has evolved over the years under the auspices of the World Trade Organization."
Khakimov also recalled the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to launch a consultation mechanism between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the SCO as well as with the ASEAN countries.
"It is important to develop cooperation with a view to building partnership," he said. "We are not talking about creating a free trade zone. This is a distant prospect. I am referring to work to harmonize EAEU development and China’s initiative of the Silk Road economic belt."
He went on to say that the SCO "could be a platform to bring together economic initiatives and processes." We see this as a serious unifying potential," Khakimov added.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent regional association founded in Shanghai, China, on June 15, 2001. Its priority tasks include joint counteraction to terrorism and extremism, cooperation in education as well as in the energy, oil and gas, transport, telecommunication and other spheres. At present, the SCO comprises Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan enjoy an observer status. Turkey, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Nepal, Cambodia and Azerbaijan are dialogue partners. The SCO summit in Russia’s Ufa in July 2015 adopted the organization’s development strategy and launched the accession process for India and Pakistan.