Commentator of Trend European Desk Victoria Zhavoronkova
The next summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) completed its work on June 16 in Yekaterinburg. The summit of the organization, which currently includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, took place without significant changes, innovations and unexpected decisions. However, it focused on important issues for the region.
Amongst discussed topics, it is possible to indicate establishment of a single supranational currency of participating countries and the problem of stability in Afghanistan. The first one is very important in the context of the global financial crisis and ways out of it, and the second one turned into one of the main issues around which there are much disputes and disagreements
The President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov spoke of the stability in Afghanistan. He proposed to change the format of peacemaking efforts in Afghanistan. According to Karimov, the contact group under the auspices of the UNO must include the six border states, United States, Russia and NATO. Karimov said that the new contact group can become an important advisory body on the basis of which it will be possible to promptly reach an agreement both inside and around Afghanistan.
The issue of security in Afghanistan has become one of the busiest "squares" of strategic talks in the first half of this year, as well as a way to distribute influence of the superpowers in the region. We could see this on the example of NATO Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan, which the anti-terrorist coalition countries use to combat terrorists in Afghanistan. In the beginning of the year, the President of Kyrgyzstan made a decision to terminate the agreement with NATO and on withdrawal of the base from Kyrgyzstan in August this year. This decision led to new processes in the neighboring republics, since the United States negotiated with the other Central Asian republics for permission to transport non-military goods through their territory instead of "Manas", on which Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other countries agreed.
Afghanistan is a very important country for the organization. The SCO members - neighbors of Afghanistan, and any violation of the stability can affect them both in terms of security and in terms of economy. The history of organization's cooperation with Afghanistan has been continuing for years, and during this period, the question of stability has been a rib in negotiations within the organization.
The SCO is somewhat a non-standard organization. Among its members there are two states claiming for world leadership. Despite this, they manage good to cooperate with each other. They are Russia and China. The region of Central Asia is very interesting for both countries. For Russia, this is primarily a region closest to the former Soviet Union, the region, countries of which need support, but also a region which is very important due to its strategic location.
For China it is a big area for investment. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asian countries like other former Soviet republics experienced a dramatic economic decline.
Some of them such as Kyrgyzstan, which has a budget deficit, huge external debts and faces lack of electricity, are in need of support. And China, more or less successfully coping with the impact of financial crisis, is willing to invest in the "non- ploughed area" of Central Asia - the source of many resources. For example, in 2010 Kyrgyzstan will receive a grant from China amounting to $11.7 million, the press service of the Kyrgyz President reported.
The influence of Beijing on the Central Asian countries has recently increased significantly., Unlike Russia and America, China is using economic levers on the way to guide the region towards its side. In light of increasing global interest in Central Asia, these factors create certain agiotage around the summit of the SCO.
According to the heads of the organization member countries, the number of its members should increase and the activities of the organization should expand. Also there are talks on possible entrance of new members to the organization. Among them is the Islamic Republic of Iran, which also plays a role on the world political arena, in regional and world stability.
The summit once again showed a positive and constructive attitude of SCO member countries, which aim to enhance cooperation and strengthen influence of this organization not only in the region, but throughout the world. This year, Russia handed over chairmanship to the SCO to Uzbekistan. It needs to wait for the next summit to be held in Tashkent, and observe the smooth strengthening of the organization that seems unequivocally.
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