DUSHANBE, July 14. /TASS/. Moscow calls for endorsing Tehran’s bid for membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, noting that the alliance’s development is directly linked to its expansion prospect, the Russian delegation told a meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe on Wednesday.
According to sources in the Russian delegation, Russia believes that the SCO’s expansion process should be incremental and ensure a balance between the member-states, observers, and dialogue partners. "We are convinced that it’s high time to endorse Iran’s bid for membership in the organization, which has been on the table since 2008," the sources said, noting that Afghanistan was not considered as a candidate at this stage.
A key criterion in this issue, according to Russia, is "the applicant’s real readiness to make an effective and particular contribution to enhancing the SCO, helping toward boosting its international authority in line with the processes unfolding on the Eurasian continent."
The Russian delegation also highlighted that the bids for an observer status submitted by seven countries needed to be considered. Russia is also ready to discuss proposals on granting the SCO dialogue partner status to other applicants, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt, according to the source.
The declaration on establishing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was signed in Shanghai in June 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In 2017, India and Pakistan became full-fledged members of the SCO.
Four countries (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia) enjoy the status of observers. Another six countries are SCO dialogue partners: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka.