SCO summit: conflict and mediators

Kyrgyzstan Materials 12 June 2009 20:57 (UTC +04:00)

Arkadi Dubnov, Deutsche Welle

Tensions grow in Uzbekistan's relations with its closest neighbors. This situation will be discussed at the upcoming summit of the SCO. Interview with an expert - on the conflicts in the region and the role of the SCO member countries in them.

The SCO summit, to be held in Yekaterinburg on June 15-16, will partly be continuation of the CSTO summit expected to take place in Moscow on this eve, June 14.

The leaders of all Central Asian states will travel from Moscow to the capital of the Urals. In Yekaterinburg, they will be waited by the Chairman of the People's Republic of China, and even the President of Brazil and Prime Minister of India.

What decisions should we expect from these events? This was in an interview of Deutsche Welle with Russian expert on Central Asia, Arkadi Dubnov.

Deutsche Welle: What are the main items on the agenda of the SCO summit?

Arkadi Dubnov: It is not worth waiting for sensation from the next meeting of the SCO leaders. SCO leaders for the first time gather in the midst of global economic crisis, and it is possible that the issue to use the new global reserve currency will be publicly raised. As known, recently Russian President Medvedev suggested the Chinese yuan to be such a currency, but the Chinese are not in a hurry with this initiative.

To my knowledge, the collection of final papers of the SCO summit will be traditional: declaration, communiques, as well as the Convention on Combating Terrorism. Even the plans of the six heads of state include approval of regulations on methods of political and diplomatic reacting to situations jeopardizing peace and security in the region.

It should be noted that still there is no common understanding within the organization itself on what is generally considered to be a region of the SCO: whether the total territories of all the six countries, from South-East Asia to Kaliningrad and, let us say whether the territory of Iran referred to it? By the way, like previous summits, at this summit in Yekaterinburg, Iran's request for membership to the SCO may be again raised, but as before, this will not happen. The moratorium on the admission of new members remains in force.

A tripartite meeting is expected to take place between the Presidents of Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which will focus on how to implement the action plan adopted at the Moscow conference on Afghanistan in late March. A great interest is caused by already widely announced rendezvous of the Presidents of Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, in which Hamid Karzai will ask Kurmanbek Bakiyev to wait a little with removing the American military base in Manas from his country.

And on this eve, the President of the United States Barack Obama sent a message to Kurmanbek Bakiyev, which deeply appreciated "the positive development of cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and the United States." Finally, in Yekaterinburg the SCO chairmanship for the next year will shift from Russia to Uzbekistan.

- Uzbekistan is currently excluded from ranges of CSTO countries. For example, Tashkent hinders the adoption of a paper on creation of rapid reaction forces within the Collective Security Treaty. Can we expect this approach or, conversely, the divergence of positions?

- What the tone of discussions at the SCO summit will be asked by the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov is one of the main intrigues not only for the meeting in the Urals, but the CSTO summit in Moscow. Just exactly over the last year, Tashkent's relations worsened with its neighbors and partners on SCO and CSTO because of the problems associated with the plans of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to build a hydroelectric power station on the river cascades, lower runoff of which is located in Uzbekistan.

The most successful position in these disputes was demonstrated by Russia, which allowed both conflicting sides to accuse Moscow of supporting its opponents. The history of problems with the Russian initiative to create a Collective Rapid Reaction Forces of the CSTO, which is known to be opposed by Tashkent, indicates that Moscow is unable to be a constructive mediator in conflicts between its partners in the CSTO. Whether China is able or wants to be such a mediator within the SCO - this is still a question.

- And how to assess information about Uzbekistan's establishment of a wall on the border with Kyrgyzstan?

- The atmosphere became more tense (at least in the Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations) after a vague in nature of events that occurred on the night of 26 May in the Uzbek Khanabad near the border with Kyrgyzstan, where unknown people attacked on Uzbek police checkpoint in which two people were killed.

Tashkent on quite traditional pattern blamed Bishkek that bandits pass from Kyrgyz territory to Uzbekistan. Of course, refutation was sounded in reply.

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