A summit between the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries concluded in Beijing on Thursday.
The Shanghai Organization is an alliance between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which was formed to promote cooperation between its members in economic and other spheres, as well as joint efforts to fight against terrorism.
The amendments signed at the summit outline a new strategy of development for the Shanghai Organization - in particular, the procedure for accepting new members to the organization.
One of the agreements signed at the summit is entitled “A Declaration on Building a Region with Lasting Peace and Common Prosperity”. All of the presidents attending the summit called for Central Asia to become a nuclear-free zone. They also declared that no outside interference in the affairs of the region would be acceptable. The declaration also says that the concrete mechanisms of preserving security within the borders of the alliance should only be determined by its member countries. At the same time, the alliance does not aim at challenging any other countries.
One of the main outcomes of the SCO summit was the granting of observer status to Afghanistan. The countries that already had this status are Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran, as President Hu Jintao said the bloc aimed to become a "fortress of regional security and stability and a driving force of regional economic development".
“The Shanghai Organization has always stood for closer cooperation with Afghanistan,” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said at the summit.
“If a country wants to establish closer ties with the SCO, such moves would only be welcomed,” added Putin.
The summit also granted Turkey’s request to give it the status of “Partner” in the Shanghai Organization. The other countries that already had this status are Belarus and Sri Lanka.
The global influence of the Shanghai Organization is obviously growing. In fact, another strong “pole” in a multi-polar world is emerging and looming large in significance. Today, one can hardly deny that the leverage of the East in the world is increasing.
The members of the Shanghai Organization have a common approach to one of the most burning problems of today - the civil wars engulfing the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. They believe that no foreign power has the right to interfere in these conflicts by force.
Summit participants issued a statement expressing support for the efforts made by the UN Security Council to end the Syrian conflict. They believe there could only be one way to settle this conflict: when both the Syrian government and all the opposition groups agree to lay down arms and engage in a dialogue.
The summit’s participants also expressed concern about the situation around Iran, which holds an SCO observer status. They believe that any attempt to solve the Iranian problem by force could have unpredictable consequences, which could threaten security in the entire region. Also, the summit praised the efforts of international mediators to settle the Iranian problem through diplomacy.
The 2013 SCO summit will be held in Kyrgyzstan.