SCO: field of interest conjugation

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SCO: field of interest conjugation 03.07.2016 12:27

The June summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent was marked by an important event: India and Pakistan have signed a memorandum on the obligations to ratify all treaties, which are in force in the SCO, which open the path to them to full membership in the organization. The fundamental decision on the extension of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization due to accede to the two major countries of South Asia was adopted in 2015 at the SCO summit in Ufa, the next necessary step was committed in the capital of Uzbekistan.

Experts believe that the new geopolitical configuration of the SCO can not only give additional impetus to the economic growth in member countries of the Organization, but also to facilitate the transition of the world system of its current turbulent state to a smooth evolution.

With the entry of India and Pakistan into the SCO Member States the four nuclear powers will be the members of the organization - Russia, China, India, Pakistan; the total population of the SCO states will be about three and a half billion people, a combined GDP is estimated close to $ 30 trillion. In addition, China and India remain the most actively developing economies of the modern world. This is the general picture.

Diplomats like the saying: "The devil lies in the fine print. " And in this case, too, the details are important. They are important for the in-depth understanding of the long-term interests of New Delhi and Islamabad in Eurasia (including in terms of their possible conjugation), and to assess prospective multilateral projects in the Eurasian space in terms of a transport revolution.

Way of India towards the SCO was quite long. The country was granted observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2005, on the fifth SCO summit in Astana. Since Delhi delicately showed interest in its more active role in the SCO, while Russia and Kazakhstan persistently worked hard to convince other members of the organization of a full-fledged participation of India in the SCO activity.

In 2009, it was decided to start the "horizontal expansion" of the SCO after proper "vertical consolidation" of the organization, and in 2014 "green light" was put on for the new union members.

Why participation in the SCO activity is so important for India? Experienced Indian diplomat and well-known expert Ashok Sajjanhar answered this question: "Security, geopolitical, strategic and economic interests of India are closely intertwined with the development of events in the region. Existing and emerging new challenges posed by terrorism, radicalism and instability pose a serious threat to the sovereignty and integrity of not only for India but also for the countries that make up more than a distant circle of the neighborhood (meaning Central Asia – A.V.)". The expansion of the SCO, whose members include the rich mineral resources of the Central Asian states, will allow to develop in the framework of general rules for the organization of these resources trade, less susceptible to market fluctuations.

Thus, one of the fundamental interests of India is to provide easy access to Central Asia, in what is also a strategic interest of the elite countries in the region. The cultural influence of India here has a long and positive history. On this basis the long-term natural conjugation of interests of India and Russia seems natural, achieved due to the international transport corridor (ITC) "North - South", main participants of which are Russia, India and Iran. It just so happened that Delhi "forced" their efforts to create ITC under the influence by the decisions on the construction of "a Pakistani transport corridor" with the active participation of China. One of the pillars of ITC the Iranian port of Chabahar is rightly considered, which is expected to upgrade with the investment participation of Japan. Japan is also interested in the prospects of the transport revolution, the essence of which is the diversification of transportation routes in Eurasia. In my view, such a development of land and water communications network will allow to develop the principles of the new geo-economic balance in the Eurasian continent

Common strategic interest of India, Russia and China is quite obvious especially in strengthening the stability of the existing political systems in Central Asia. It is hoped that the ongoing dialogue on security issues within the framework of the SCO will bring progress in the fight against terrorism in this part of the world, as well as serve as a prevention of various "color revolutions", obsessive desire for the organization that stirs the mind of the ruling circles of some extra-regional powers.

The motives of Pakistan have its features, which along with India has become a full member of the SCO. On the one hand, as Nation (Pakistani edition) reported, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan demonstrates the desire to diversify its foreign policy, enriching it with new geopolitical and economic sense. On the other hand, the ongoing dialogue within the framework of the SCO is able to create in the future new, more favorable conditions for the normalization of historically challenging the Pakistani-Indian relations.

It is worth emphasizing that the simultaneous entry of both South Asian states in the SCO is seen by the Pakistani intellectual elite as a chance to improve economic relations of Islamabad and New Delhi. And if to add to this factor the patience and restraint from the Indian side (both in the times of Manmohan Singh and in the times of Narendra Modi), it can be expected that the bilateral economic relations between India and Pakistan will still develop. This will make the overall atmosphere of relations between New Delhi and Islamabad less ideological, conducive to working together to achieve specific mutually beneficial results.

As for Moscow's perspective on India-Pakistan relations, it remains unchanged for decades. It is known in India that Russia is interested in: a) in the preservation of the unity and territorial integrity of Pakistan (including as one of the conditions for achieving political stability in the "post-American" Afghanistan); b) in strengthening the tradition of civilian rule in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in the predictability of its social and political development, in entering it on the path of sustainable economic growth.

Active involvement of Pakistan in the activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization serves the long-term interests of not only Russia, but also of India.

Andrei Volodin

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