Baku, Azerbaijan, June 7
By Elena Kosolapova – Trend:
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will increasingly resemble the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) after joining of India and Pakistan, Jos Boonstra, a project coordinator of the EU-Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) project of the Center of European Security Studies believes.
India and Pakistan are expected to become full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at SCO Astana summit on June 8-9.
“The SCO was clearly created with two captains at the helm – Russia and China – and this will now change as India and Pakistan are large geo-political actors that poses nuclear weapons, have large populations and growing economies,” Boonstra told Trend June 7.
According to the expert, the SCO is turning from a Central Asia focused organization towards a club that focuses on the broader Asian heartland.
“With its economic, political-security and development focus it is increasingly resembling the OSCE, but lacking a democracy and human rights regime,” the analyst said.
Boonstra noted that so far the SCO has not been influential as its key members Russia and China also have their own regional integration mechanisms: the Eurasian Economic Union for the former and One Road, One Belt initiative for the latter.
“With India and Pakistan at the table this will not change. The SCO is likely to remain a forum for debate and a regional organization that also wants to make sure it is excluding ‘The West’ and thus offering an alternative to US or Europe initiated forums,” he said.
Explaining the reasons for India and Pakistan to join the SCO, Boonstra noted that it seems that the both countries have calculated that being together in this organization while being arch enemies, leading to a positive assessment.
According to the expert, the SCO will be another place where New Delhi and Islamabad are around the table which is good for lowering tensions.
“More important reasons for both countries are: the potential economic benefits, the importance of good relations with China and Russia and the energy potential of Central Asian states,” he said.
Commenting on the prospects of Iran joining to the SCO, he noted that they are reasonably good although it might take time. Iran has repeatedly expressed interest in becoming a full SCO member.
“Current members will first want to see how it works out with an enormously enlarged SCO that includes India and Pakistan,” he said.
According to Boonstra, Russia will be in favor of Iran joining but there might be doubts among other SCO members, also in the face of relations with the EU and US.
The SCO members now are China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are the SCO observer-countries, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.
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