Problems of expansion« Back
At the end of April, the traditional Council of Foreign Ministers of the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be held in Beijing, which for the first time, in view of last year's accession to the SCO of India and Pakistan, will bring together eight and not six ministers. Meanwhile, the speeches of a number of experts at the forum in Sochi dedicated to the SCO theme showed that it was not so easy to adapt the new members of the association. The friction between Delhi and Islamabad with the entry into the organization did not automatically evaporate. Therefore, with the accession to the SCO of Iran and Afghanistan, which are already "knocking at the door", will have to wait, experts say.
The officially announced theme of the second Sochi forum, held on April 17-18, was "Prospects for the development and strengthening of the SCO." Participants of the meeting noted that joining the organization of India and Pakistan increased the aggregate GDP of the member countries of the organization to $15 trillion or up to 20% of world GDP. And in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund, it will reach 35%.
As the special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the SCO affairs Bakhtiyor Khakimov recalled in his speech at the forum, now the SCO is experiencing a period of growth. He noted that in the association's portfolio there are a lot of countries that want to become partners of the dialogue organization, for example, Egypt, Israel and Bangladesh.
At the same time, two countries from this list - Afghanistan and Iran - by definition of one of the speakers, "do not just look at the SCO, but loudly knock on its door", which was confirmed by Izvestia and representatives of these states.
With the accession of Iran to the organization, the SCO will acquire an experienced fighter against terrorism and extremism in the face of this country, as well as get a chance to revive important transport projects, Rasul Seyed Mousavi, an adviser to the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told Izvestia.
"We hope that Afghanistan will be able to become a full-fledged and equal member of this important regional and international organization. This membership is very important for the joint struggle against terrorism and the development of various aspects of life in Afghanistan. On behalf of the Afghan people, I would like to ask the SCO to accept Afghanistan into its ranks, "said Alam Mohammad Isidiyar, the first deputy chairman of the Afghan parliament.
However, as almost all experts recognized, Afghanistan's entry into the SCO is not possible until security problems in the country are minimized. As is known, part of the Afghan territory continues to control the Taliban movement, banned in the Russian Federation, and runaway Islamic state militants are actively flocking to Afghanistan (a terrorist group is banned in Russia). In addition, the country accounts for 80% of the world's opium production, whose illegal turnover in the country is estimated at $ 3 billion. Another indicative figure is the number of deaths in Afghanistan: in 2017, more than 10,000 people died from the hands of militants.
But the main thing that pushes the SCO to the need to temporarily suspend further expansion is the territorial tensions between India and Pakistan. As is known, the main problem in bilateral relations is the dispute over Kashmir and mutual accusations of supporting terrorists operating on the territory of a neighbor.
- Problems have remained; membership in the SCO has not yet resolved the existing differences between India and Pakistan. Mistrust is even on an expert level, "expert from the Institute of Asian and African Countries Boris Volkhonsky told Izvestia.
The expert's conclusion was partly confirmed by the guest's speech from India - the Secretary-General of the ruling "Bharatiya Janata Party" Madhav Rama. As the Indian politician noted, it is impossible to divide terrorists into "bad" and "good" ones - terrorism strikes not only neighbors, but also those who sponsor it. Pakistan in this speech was not mentioned once, but the addressee of the message was obvious to many.
- Entry into one organization did not remove the severity of disputes between India and Pakistan. I think that China and Russia can use all their influence on these countries to encourage them to dialogue and establish cooperation, "the director of the Pakistani Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Muhammad Asii Nur, told Izvestiya.
Whether the old-timers of the SCO will be able to smooth out the angles in the relations between the two new members of the organization, time will tell. According to some estimates, the process of embedding India and Pakistan into the union will take at least three years.