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ASTANA, June 9. /TASS/. The accession of India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a historic event which confirms the SCO’s principle of openness, the organization’s Secretary General Rashid Alimov told TASS.
"The Astana declaration is a historic document for a number of reasons," he said. "First of all, it reflects the willingness of the SCO founding members to expand the organization. India and Pakistan are the first new countries to be granted membership," he pointed out. According to Alimov, for 12 years, the two countries "actively participated in the SCO’s activities as observers." "This confirms the SCO’s principle of openness which was enshrined in its Charter 15 years ago," he added.
The SCO secretary general went on to say that the accession of India and Pakistan topped the summit addenda because it is the first expansion of the organization. "In this regard, I would like to note that the accession of India and Pakistan was preceded by lengthy preparations. The preparatory period completed when the two countries implemented the 2016 memorandums on obligations aimed at receiving SCO membership," Alimov said.
"I believe this indicates the high level that relations between India, Pakistan and the SCO states have reached, as well as the fact that the accession of such countries, important on the regional and global levels, will advance multi-faceted interaction between the organization’s members," the SCO secretary general added.
When asked if the SCO planned to continue the expansion process, Alimov said that "the answer to this question may be found in the SCO Charter." He noted that "June 7 marked the 15th anniversary of this document in which the principle of openness is enshrined." "This is why the accession of new members is always on the agenda, new countries may be granted membership if they accept the goals and principles of the Charter and provisions of other documents adopted by the SCO."
At the Astana summit, the SCO leaders acknowledged the importance of the expansion, confirming their commitment to the principle of openness, the SCO secretary general said.
"Besides, I would like to note that the SCO is not confined only to member states. Our ‘family’ also consists of observer countries and dialogue partners," he added. "These countries share the SCO’s views, goals and values. This is why the Astana declaration emphasized the importance of deepening cooperation between member states, observer countries and dialogue partners in order to increase the organization’s capabilities," Alimov concluded.