The Shanghai Cooperation Organization held a top-level meeting in the Russian city of Sochi.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was there, along with leaders of the seven other member countries. CGTN’s Aljosa Milenkovic explains its importance for regional security.
Host and chairman of Sochi meeting was Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev. He emphasized the need for creating an SCO bank. It’s something that was on the table for 10 years, but hasn’t moved forward.
Both China and Russia – the backbones of this organization – were pushing hard at this meeting for further economic integration between SCO countries.
Members appeared to achieve this, when at the end of the meeting, they announced that SCO will continue its transformation and change its focus from security to economic collaboration and integration, expanding the organization’s importance.
An important thing stressed by Premier Li Keqiang during a number of his bilateral meetings with other SCO prime ministers. “Peace and development remain major issues in the world today. We should foster a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security to build a safe and stable regional environment,” said China’s Premier.
For some time, Iran was pressing its candidacy for membership. Some member countries, like Tajikistan were earlier opposed to accepting that candidacy. But after this year’s meeting, the group announced Iran’s membership is on the table for the future SCO expansion.
Afghanistan may join the organization in the near future, too. The SCO heads of governments also stressed need for rapid stabilization of situation in Afghanistan. They said that if this doesn’t happen, it could seriously jeopardize the stability of the entire region. So, Afghanistan joining the group should be beneficial to all.
After Pakistan and India joined SCO this summer, opening the doors to Iran and Afghanistan shows expansion is clearly one of the group’s top priorities.
It’s in the beautiful coastal city of Sochi where the year of Russia’s presidency over Shanghai Cooperation Organization ends. It was a year of the SCO expansion with two new members joining the ranks, also a year of many security challenges and, as Premier Li Keqiang said a year of gradual global economic recovery. In 2018, China will assume the SCO presidency from Russia.