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Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit to move ahead on expansion

June 23, 2016 - UZBEKISTAN

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders can be expected to move ahead on their decision to enlarge the body when they meet in Tashkent. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the plan when they met at Ufa in 2015.

The bloc founded by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has been deadlocked over expansion since its founding in 2011. Putin will want to see movement on his 2014 proposal for a vast regional transportation network.

The leaders invited India and Pakistan to full membership of the organization and upgraded the SCO status of Belarus to observer, according to the news release after the Ufa summit, and Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal will be admitted as dialog partners. Afghanistan became a formal SCO observer in 2012. The Diplomat notes that making India a member of the security bloc will give the world's largest democracy a greater say on issues like combating terrorism, and participation in major oil and gas projects in Central Asia. The magazine also observes that the six member states have major differences in their geographic and population size, their military power, and the economic resources that they bring to the SCO, and that expansion exacerbates complications caused by the differences.

The magazine also observes that the SCO has yet to develop institutional mechanisms to fund major economic reconstruction projects . . . and make a genuine contribution to international peace and security.

At Ufa the Russian president again highlighted the importance of linking the Western China-Europe Transport Corridor with the Russian Trans-Siberian Railroad and Baikal Amur Mainline (BAM). The proposal pairs the projected Putin plan with the ongoing development of China's Silk Road. He argues that the implementation of the agreement will make it possible to create a network of road routes, including the Europe-Western China Transport Corridor, which connects ports on the Yellow Sea to the ports of the St. Petersburg region. Putin envisions the coordinated development of motorways of the SCO member states.

SCO HEADS OF STATE COUNCIL MEETING (SCO NEWS 10 JUL 2015)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's Growing Pains (The Diplomat 18 Sep 2015)

Date written/update: 2015-10-12