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West speculating on SCO’s alleged threat to justify NATO’s existence – diplomat

Natalia Stepkina noted that currently the SCO embraces 18 countries, members, observers and dialogue partners

BEIJING, September 15. /TASS/. The West is speculating about threats coming from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to justify NATO’s existence, a Russian diplomat said on Thursday.

"There is nothing new about attempts at drawling parallels between the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and NATO and we should not cure from our Western colleagues on this matter," Natalia Stepkina, minister counsellor of the Russian embassy in China and Russia’s Permanent Representative to the SCO Secretariat, told journalists, when asked to comment on Western media publications where they compare the SCO and NATO.

"It is done to make NATO look not that bellicose, to find an additional justification of this structure’s existence - that there is one more structure, like the SCO, and it is necessary to counteract it effectively," she explained.

"At all events, NATO is a military bloc, which is staking on force solutions and division of zones of influence. We see what is going on - that countries’ national interests are sacrificed to the political and geopolitical situation," she said. "As for the SCO, the mission of this organization is absolutely different. So, it is wrong to compare them because the SCO Charter is quite clear: the SCO is not a military bloc and the organization’s activities are not aimed against third countries and organization."

"We have united in the SCO to cooperate and develop out states, but not to be friends against anyone. We have no such task," she stressed. "The SCO is operating on the principles of consensus, mutual respect, respect to cultural diversity, to social and cultural traditions and structures of each other, commitment - and it is written in the SCO Charter - to avoid any unfriendly steps against each other."

She noted that currently the SCO embraces 18 countries, members, observers and dialogue partners. The organization develops ties with other multilateral associations, such as the United Nations, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), CIS, Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and ASEAN.

Established in 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization now includes India, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia are observer countries, and Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka enjoy the partner status.

It is expected that the Samarkand summit in mid-September will complete the procedure of admitting Iran to the organization and will grant the partner status to Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The organization is also considering Belarus’ application for a full-fledged membership.

The SCO summit will be held in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand on September 156-16.