The next SCO summit has passed. Western commentators were quick to once again declare the anti-Western movement of the Shanghai organization, its anti-Americanism. Compared with the summit in 2006, even considering that this time the Americans were not asked to decide on the timing of the withdrawal of their military from Central Asia, this summit was not much different from the previous one.
The year that has passed from the summit to the summit in the activities of the SCO is not particularly marked. The SCO refused to conduct joint exercises with the CSTO, as before held its own.
They are still talking about some economic projects, about which very few people know something concrete. The activities of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (RATS SCO), more precisely, even the tasks of the Structure for the future are not known. For the year in the practical activities of the RATS also not noted.
Of the possible advantages, it is worth noting the final drawing of the Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association and the cooperation agreement signed between them. There were also expressed intentions to create the SCO Energy Club and the SCO Youth Organization. It seems that the Energy Strategy will be signed next year. What is the SCO Youth Organization is an open question. As a structure, it can be very useful, and during its creation it will become an analogue of the Atlantic youth organization. In addition, within the framework of the creation of the SCO Youth Organization, it would be correct to implement the initiative of Nursultan Nazarbayev to create special training centers for the study of culture, history and languages of the SCO peoples.
Russia, for its part, proposed the Center for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for the Prevention of Natural and Technological Disasters. Given Russia's leadership in this area and the absence of such a structure in Europe, such a center will be another opportunity to increase Russia's influence in Central Asia.
The summit itself, which was held in Bishkek, was marked by the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and, in general, was the most representative in the entire short history of such meetings. It was attended by the largest number of representatives of the member states, SCO observers and guests of the summit, who ever attended the SCO summits - Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.
The arrival of Ahmadinejad once again gave the Western media a reason to talk about the SCO as an anti-NATO organization, about expanding the influence of the SCO as an alternative to democratic values. A more interesting visit is the appearance at the summit of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Until now, the late Saparmurat Niyazov did not show his interest in the SCO. In connection with the increased attention to Iran, to the future adoption of the SCO energy strategy, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov will want to continue to be aware of the SCO affairs, hence the desire to make Turkmenistan an observer at the SCO. After all, if energy-rich Iran is also interested, then why not follow its example.
Another interesting question is the new SCO members. Observers have been waiting for new members from the organization for several years now. It is known that Pakistan officially requested membership of the SCO, information appeared about the imminent membership of Mongolia, but so far neither one nor the other countries have entered the official SCO. The moratorium on the admission of new members continues to operate, and in the near future will not be removed. This confirms the desire to create clear criteria for membership in the organization, and at the summit in Bishkek, a statement was made about a broader inclusion of observer countries in the activities of the SCO, which again indicates that they are not ready to accept any of the current observers.
At the same time, if someone is accepted, then India is a more suitable candidate. Although India is not so noticeable among the observer states and the head of state - the prime minister did not represent it, the membership of India would definitely strengthen the political influence and importance of the SCO.
Once again, the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, spoke out and called on the SCO countries to jointly deal with Afghan drugs. Vladimir Putin also suggested strengthening the fight against Afghan drugs, expressing the desirability of discussing the possibilities of promoting the development of Afghanistan during a special conference prepared within the framework of the SCO-Afghanistan contact group. Over the three years of its existence, apart from the mechanism for organizing a special conference, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group has not been noticed with practical projects or any visible or in principle declared fight against Afghan drugs.
Another part of the 2007 summit was the signing of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborhood, Friendship and Cooperation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States. Why should the member states of one organization design their long-term friendship is not very clear. Is each other's membership in the SCO not a guarantor of friendship and cooperation? Hence the confirmation that the SCO still needs to adopt a document on the criteria for membership, perhaps its existence would deprive the need to sign this agreement on friendship and cooperation for a long time.
The final chord of the summit was a visit by the heads of state of anti-terrorism exercises in the Chelyabinsk region. The exercises were successful, everyone was satisfied. Reflections on whether they are anti-terrorist or military, next year, I think, will find their answer in connection with the signing of a cooperation agreement between the CSTO and the SCO.
With all this, the SCO is still considered a substitute for NATO or its adversary. Practical projects are what distinguishes NATO from the SCO. For example, the lack of RATS activity is the absence of a common security problem. Nobody is going to fight terrorism in Afghanistan, sending troops to Central Asian countries, too. Yes, and entry into Afghanistan will be considered as a rivalry between the two organizations. The fight against drugs is not officially included in the work of the RATS. No one plans to conduct special operations following the example of the CSTO Channel operation. It is planned only to counteract the financing of terrorism, but there are no proven mechanisms yet. But even if progress is achieved, the role of the RATS in this matter remains undeveloped.
There are no projects that exist in NATO to train the security services in the SCO. There are no projects aimed at protecting critical infrastructure. Ecological, water projects are not carried out. It is possible that the creation of the Eurasian Development Bank and the SCO Interbank Association will be able to stimulate the creation, conduct and financing of these projects in the future.
Despite these problems, the SCO will continue to oppose NATO, if only because there is Russia in NATO, and the United States is not in the SCO. Because in the SCO, unlike NATO, there is a problem of information support for its activities. In addition to speeches and interviews of senior officials on the SCO website there is nothing. What are these 120 economic projects within the SCO, what the Interbank Association and the SCO Business Council are doing, what is being discussed in the Afghanistan-SCO Contact Group, as agreed by the heads of the ministries of the SCO countries, all this remains in the unknown.