Foreign ministers from across the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are in Moscow this week for meetings. The organization’s headline yearly summit, the gathering of the heads of states, was originally planned for July 21-23 and was postponed along with the BRICS summit earlier this year. Those meetings have yet to be rescheduled.
Russia, which holds the SCO’s rotating presidency for 2019-2020, managed to gather the foreign ministers in Moscow despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov playing host, the attendees included
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wi,
Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi,
Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Chingiz Aidarbekov,
Tajik Foreign Minister Sirodjidin Aslov,
Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov,
Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, and
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, as well as the
SCO’s Secretary General Vladimir Norov and others.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to the group via videolink.
The SCO as we know it now was originally rooted in a 1995 treaty, and dubbed the Shanghai Five in 1996, with China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan as members. Uzbekistan joined in 2001 and the group
Last year, around the occasion of the leaders’ summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, I opined on the expansion of the SCO in 2017 to include India and Pakistan:
south china post reports- peace pledge himalaya border Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
The statement after the September 10 meeting contains all the usual diplomatic jargon plus necessary and anodyne references to the pandemic. There’s an endorsement of a “multipolar world,” and the predictable hailing of the 75th anniversary of the “victory of the peoples over Nazism, fascism and militarism…” There are references to how concerning terrorism is, alongside separatism and other security matters, including keeping space free of weapons. Afghanistan scored its usual paragraph, stressing an Afghan-led peace process.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) prompts a diversion from the collective tone. The statement expresses support for the china- mapping of BRI from the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan — India is left off that list.
Central Asia’s foreign ministers have held their own sideline talks. Uzbekistan’s Kamilov met with Wang, Kamilov also had meetings with Lavrov and Jaishankar.
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