The SCO has managed to do incredible things: to interweave a thin silk thread, flexible and robust, with the ordinary canvas of the intergovernmental dialogue. The main "commandments" were strung on it - ethical principles of the code which opened the door to a free, equal dialogue, between firstly five and then six countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan). Parity, consensus, trust, collective leadership, and respect for everyone's interests, economic and humanitarian co-development - all this became a metaphor for the concept of "Shanghai spirit". Two other concepts were also raised in the letter of the law - a consensus (no matter how difficult and time-consuming the way to it was) and respect, as the main imperative of the East.
Partners were of different sizes on the physical map, different by political and economic power, their mentality, and uniqueness of their historical and cultural experiences. Some estimated their statehood for thousands of years, others had just gained sovereignty. It is seemingly difficult to imagine more nonvalent landscape on the political map! Many analysts were skeptical about the situation, and those in the West frankly talked: "No good will come of it because this is simply impossible."
But the organization proved to be very timely for geopolitical and economic space. The Shanghai Six had the wisdom to appreciate the promising chance accidentally passed on from hands of History.
Now, 10 years have passed. The organization is lively, dynamic, and significant. These are statistics corroborating its image: the SCO consists of two permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia and China, two nuclear powers, and the other two nuclear powers (India and Pakistan) have the status of observer countries. Two states - India and China have the most rapidly developing economies of the world, they are also the most populated. The SCO's territory is 38 million square meters; it is home to 3 billion people or 60% - 3 of 4 BRIC countries. According to Western political scientists, such an organization should not be underestimated.
But what imperative is driving SCO, providing its life? A note of historical interest is appropriate here. The joint political will made the six nations to unite in the face of harsh reality. Their interests converged in the area of reciprocal intra-regional actions to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism on the borders and within the new sovereign states of Central Asia.
The SCO appeared on the political map not amid the good life, if not "under hatches" and those are insincere who believe that the organization was planned as the equipoise of the European Union or even NATO. At that time, initiators of the SCO were not in the mood for lofty matters of high competition, for "horning" with the West. They were concerned about the terrorist, separatist threat, aggravated during the collapse of the Soviet state construction giant.
One of the first substantive documents was the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. The organization established a Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), adopted more than 40 security-related documents. But when struggling with the "three evils", SCO is not going to turn into a "military fist", and it has declared this expressly.
Today the SCO is a powerful interstate association having a huge potential and got integrated with the global political system. It is growing, gaining prestige and power, but the main thing – it does not lose its original "commandments", and this is its main attractiveness. "The world community is increasingly taking the SCO as a kind of alternative to the established world order in which the big powers think they can behave as it suits them, as they please, without regard to any international law or the opinions of others," says Special Representative of the President of Russia for SCO affairs, national coordinator of SCO from Russia Leonid Moiseev. "Hence there is the world's reaction to the SCO as a viable alternative and hereto related great expectations."
The SCO has under its belt ten years of hard work and good results. The organization structure was formed, a legal framework created, and finally, its own philosophy developed. Together, the Shanghai Six has managed to build opposition to the most pressing security challenges. Today cardinal steps are being made in the fight against drug menace - the summit in Astana is to adopt an anti-drug strategy
In the economic field of cooperation, progress is modest, partners can not find an effective interaction formula so far, and there is an explanation thereof. It is not easy to establish cooperation on the economic track of the six countries having different resource advantage, different economic parameters. But there is some progress somewhere; the interaction is developing though slowly.
The real success is in the humanitarian field, where the SCO University Network has been launched - a unique educational project that set absolutely pragmatic goals. One of the Russian developers of the SCO project, Professor Alexei Maslov said "it is necessary to educate a new generation of people who would know much not only about the problems of their countries, but also those of other countries, would understand different national psychologies, business ethics and business dealing. For that end we need cross-border, transnational professionals, and the SCO University should solve this problem."
Watching the rapidity of processes in the theater of international relations, the SCO, of course, must reflect on the future strategy. How to further promote the idea it has proclaimed? There is another important problem - how to expand? There is a queue for the SCO; there are aspirants for full membership, an observer status or dialogue partner, and the logic of life requires solutions. At the summit in Astana, this issue, which began to move at last year's Tashkent summit, will get a new development.
Summits of the Shanghai Six leaders are held annually in the territory of the presiding country, and now this is Kazakhstan. In the airfield of the International Airport of Astana a whole flock of giant birds is glistening like silver in the sun, one better than another. These are Presidential airliners arrived from the SCO states. They are not less than 12 – so many countries are in the SCO space. But there are also guests, for example, Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The Afghan leader may fly away home from Astana with another status: not as a guest of the summit, but as a leader of the SCO observer country, because Afghanistan is expected to be admitted in the SCO family. And this is one of the expected news of the meeting of leaders, which has overtones of sensation. Behind it there is a difficult political dialogue, if not bargaining with the Americans, for whom, of course, drawing Afghanistan into the orbit of the SCO is a little awkward. They could agree to such a "somersault" not only on the basis of a pragmatic assessment of reality, but also in exchange for something important for themselves, for example, "striking root" in the Afghan land, building here their long-term base (by the Iraqi model).
Coalition forces were hardly able to do anything in Afghanistan, except killing and drowning bin Laden. True, by this alone fact they have justified the "Enduring Freedom" in front of their taxpayers. However, the problems of the unlucky Afghanistan, humiliated, mocked, have not become moderate not in the slightest, his people continue to suffer from socio-political discord, economic and social disruption, confrontation of various armed forces in society. So the SCO takes "under its wings" this country with all above problems in a difficult moment of Afghan history. And not only in solidarity, in mercy, but also understanding that unless peace comes in Afghanistan and a normal existence is resumed, regional neighbors can not sleep either.
In what direction should the SCO go next? The question is not about viability - there is no problem here - the question is about successfulness. There need to be new ideas for the development. Following the talks, Heads of SCO Member States will sign important documents, among which is the Joint Statement of Heads of SCO Member States. It will summarize the 10-year development of the organization and through these "eyepieces" will look into the future, covering the same period.