BEIJING, November 10. /TASS/. The enlargement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will significantly raise the authority and potential for the organization's development, SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming said in an interview with TASS on Thursday.
"First of all, I would like to clarify: a Memorandum of Commitment has already been signed with Iran (the Islamic Republic of Iran - TASS) in connection with its accession to the SCO. As for Belarus, [at the summit] in Samarkand, it was decided to start the procedure of the country’s accession to the SCO. In other words, the Iranian side is at a slightly more advanced stage, but the Belarusian partners are working very energetically and constructively, so I think they won't fall behind significantly," he said.
"We can predict that the expansion of the SCO to ten member states in the near future will undoubtedly significantly increase the authority and the potential for development of the organization. The accession of these two countries will add new colors to the organization," the Secretary General pointed out.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in 2001 by six states: Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Uzbekistan. Later, in 2017, Pakistan and India joined the club. Four other countries - Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia - hold observer status, while several other nations - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Cambodia, Qatar, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Sri Lanka - are dialogue partners.
At the SCO summit in Samarkand on September 15 to 16, the leaders of the organization signed a memorandum on the obligations of the Iranian side in connection with its accession to the SCO. After that, Iran must fulfill the relevant obligations and complete the formal accession procedure. Also during the summit the process of registration of Belarus’ membership in the organization began.
In addition, it was decided in Samarkand to start the procedure of granting the status of dialogue partners to Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar and the United Arab Emirates.