Joining of Pakistan, India ‘strengthens’ Shanghai pact

Monitoring Desk

SOCHI: The accession of India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has increased cooperation among the member states, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.

“The cooperation potential between the SCO member states has been strengthened by the accession of India and Pakistan,” Medvedev said at the meeting of the Heads of Government Council in Russia’s city of Sochi, according to Russian Government statement.

The regional pact was established in 2001 and comprises of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It aims to boost bilateral relations in trade, politics, culture and economy.

Medvedev said the accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO in June “means that the organization is rising and promoting practical cooperation in all areas, from economy to security.”

He added regional conflicts were still present and international terrorism was a “very serious” challenge.

“Our work’s priority was to give a new impetus to the organization’s development and, of course, to promote trade, economic and humanitarian ties and to ensure security,” Medvedev said.

The premier noted that Iran and Afghanistan as SCO observer states applied for the membership.

“Today we see no obstacles to Iran joining the organization, if we are talking about practical matters,” he said. About Afghanistan, M-edvedev said there were “ve-ry difficult” political factors.

“It is probable that, when making any decisions on the possible admission of Afghanistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, we will have to take into account the current political situation,” he added.

Medvedev underlined that all decisions on admitting new members to the organization made by consensus.

Tajikistan would host the next meeting of the Heads of Government Council in which it would take over the bloc’s presidency.

The member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organization have expressed the determination to shape the organization into the most effective forum under the umbrella of common goals of closely knitted road, rail, and communication networks crossing huge swathes of South Asia, Central Asia up to Europe.

In a joint communiqué, the 16th Meeting of the Heads of Government Council agreed on specific measures to enhance cooperation in diverse sectors.

They noted that it is particularly important to build a multipolar and fair world order that will be based on international law, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation.

The delegation heads expressed a common understanding of the fact that all participants of international economic relations must have equal opportunities.

They also emphasized that one of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s priorities is to improve people’s wellbeing and living standards.

In this context, they spoke out for consistent implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals by strengthening cooperation in trade, production, energy, transport, investment, agriculture, telecommunications and other sectors of mutual interest.

The heads of government of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan confirmed their support of China’s One Belt and One Road Initiative.