Russia is keen on SCO expansion

Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov. Source: TASS

Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov. Source: TASS

One of the most important tasks of the Russian presidency is the practical start of the expansion process in the SCO, says Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.

The most important task of Russia’s presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is the practical start of the expansion process, the Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov announced on Wednesday.

“Interest in the SCO format is great, which is clearly seen by the large number of applications for full-fledged membership and for observer status. The SCO itself is now ready to admit new members. In this regard, one of the most important tasks of the Russian presidency, as we see it, is the practical start of the expansion process in this organization,” Mr. Morgulov stated in Khanty-Mansiysk.

The 10th SCO Forum opened on Wednesday in the capital of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District.

“Russia supports the expansion of trade and mutual investments within the framework of the SCO, while not setting the goal of economic integration,” said the official. “As part of our presidency, the emphasis is placed on the implementation of major projects, which contribute to energy and transport communications in the region, the effective development of resources and the creation of high-tech industrial clusters.”

The importance of deepening of trade and economic relations, within the framework of the SCO, was also noted by Anatoly Torkunov, Rector of MGIMO MFA RF and head of the Russian delegation at the SCO Forum, during an interview with reporters.

“I think that there has not been sufficient progress yet in terms of economic, trade, and economic cooperation issues in general. It is clear that there are many obstacles, presented by national legislations, associated with the protection of domestic markets. There is a need to harmonize legislation, and adopt a number of decisions in order to open the floodgates for such trade and economic cooperation,” said Mr. Torkunov.

According to the rector of MGIMO, at the opening ceremony, the head of the Chinese delegation, former Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Fenglin, raised the issue of the restoration of the Great Silk Road, and at the same time proposed considering this idea in the context of the EEU and the SCO.

“We need to look at this, and think about how to make all these large economic projects not contradict one another, not put spokes in the wheel, but rather contribute to the development of the Eurasian Region,” said the head of the Russian delegation.

Morgulov also announced that Russia intends to pay special attention to establishing cooperation with international organizations, first of all, “using the advantages offered by the Eurasian Economic Union for development of the SCO”.

“We (SCO countries) are aiming to further deepen cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism, extremism, drug trafficking and transnational organized crime,” said Mr. Morgulov.

According to him, the highest priority, in terms of security issues, today is focused on Afghanistan. “Specifically, I mean the emergence in Afghanistan of the militant Islamic State movement. The cancer of terrorist activities threatens to explode, and lead to new manifestations of instability across the region,” stressed Mr. Morgulov.

According to him, the events in the Middle East and North Africa, and the tensions in Ukraine pose additional threats. “All this is the result of attempts by individual states to try and dominate the international community, to prevent the formation of a pluralistic multi-polar world order,” he said.

He also noted the importance of humanitarian ties within the SCO. “I am convinced that the successful development of humanitarian ties – will ensure the preservation of spiritual closeness between the SCO states, being based on our rich historical and cultural heritage and our common historical memory. A tremendous boost to this component in the organization will be provided by the joint celebration of the 70th Anniversary of Victory in World War II,” said Mr. Morgulov.

Current members of the SCO are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Observer status has been granted to Mongolia, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In September 2014, Pakistan and India formally applied for full membership in the SCO, Iran also wished to gain full membership in the Organization Sri Lanka and Armenia have submitted applications for observer status. Enjoying the status of “dialogue partner” of the SCO are Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

The SCO and BRICS will be held in the capital city of Bashkortostan on July 8-10

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