In the SCO’s eleventh year, according to rotation, the presiding country for the SCO is China, and therefore the summit takes place on its land. The Beijing meeting opens the second decade in the organization’s history. “The Shanghai Six” is to indicate a new phase of movement, to formulate an action program – for now and the near future.
In the first ten years, SCO has spent a lot of energy on the “architecture of the house”, the solution of institutional problems, autopresentation. The organization formed its image, explained its goals and objectives fitted into the international sphere. She gave hope to many in the world, offering a new model of interstate interaction, attractive to many by its equity.
Emotions of the West were different: some said this is allegedly the next Asian action - let them amuse themselves! others argued that a counterbalance to NATO was created.
Any political myths’ favorite ground is the information vacuum. The truth is that the SCO advocates itself very sluggishly and remains “a dark horse" for many, so it is not out of place to recall once again a historical argument, which made its appearance, as well as the organization’s goals and objectives.
The organization’s ancestral cradle is an amazing city of Shanghai, which gave it its name. Once I was in this city by the will of the journalistic fate, I asked to show me the building where the historic constituent assembly of the SCO took place. I was told that it was an old house that was demolished and in its place a 101-story skyscraper was built. This transformation seemed very symbolic. From a common worldly start the SCO has rushed up, and today it is a recognized organization actively improving and unfolding its field, influential in the global field.
The founding fathers of the SCO (firstly there were five) were sitting here on June 15, 2001. A year later, with the accession of Uzbekistan “the Shanghai Six” was formed. This figure is not static: with increasing the attractiveness of the SCO, new comers knock at its door, and there are expectations that this time the organization can increase with new parties.
India hopes to change the observer status to full membership; Turkey has claimed to be the dialogue partner country. But it's not all that simple, because decisions are determined by consensus only. Although the SCO originally stated that "its doors open for others," she acts very carefully, weighing the political, economic and other scales, many arguments. The "style of its activity is, of course, eastern, and the western dynamics here are not to be expected.
What do usually cluster the states? – Common interests and common risk. SCO is a result of the six regional countries’ concern of rampant extremism, terrorism and separatism in their territories, which, of course, was facilitated by the collapse of the giant Soviet structure. These "three evil's forces" as dubbed by the Chinese, were of cross-border nature, and it was necessary to build a joint system of confrontation.
It is interesting to note that on the birthday of the organization (June 15, 2001), not all the world media, but only the most vigilant and hair-splitting have sent a message in the information space about its birth. Despite the fact that the goals of the organization were identified in the Shanghai Convention, the document raised questions and by the first western estimate was considered a "vague and hard to understand".
The Convention was signed by the six Eurasian states - Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. In this way the idea of a new international alliance with a short abbreviation of the SCO took shape.
The configuration of the Shanghai Six originally looked more than strange: China is spreading its wings for a high flight, and five demoralized "wreckages" of the former Soviet Union, licking their wounds from painful physical rupture of the living flesh. True, one of the "wreckages" was Russia which in its new capacity had not lost the status of as "the great and nuclear" state.
The two nuclear powers as a framework of the six-party international organization is a very serious argument that can not be disregarded, so, it began to arouse interest. The essence of the newly-minted political model was defined by the Shanghai Spirit. This was a qualitatively new tone for international dialogue, emphasizing the principles of mutual respect, parity and consensus, a desire for co-development. Based on these attractive ideals, the new political association developed a new doctrine - the Shanghai Declaration, reflected the key objectives of the organization. The paper did not say a word about the military alliance of countries, since the SCO made a bid for other values: not force, but spirit!
Yet the word "great and terrible," "incomprehensible and dangerous alliance" - were the first definitions, with which the Western world named SCO. In any case, they were aired by a French political scientist Catherine Pujol, I got to listen at the Issyk-Kul international expert conference on the SCO subject. Maybe today, in view of the obvious facts, the successful development of the SCO, without a military component, Madame Pujol regrets to have been wide of the truth.
The political process initiated in Shanghai 11 years ago was the alternative to the usual course of things, when the rich and powerful dominate. This was a new model of cooperation, which now attracts the attention of many global players.
True, this effect can be called "side" for the SCO initially did not put any great purpose, and was only concerned about the sad necessity to confront diverse regional risk. The response to this challenge was not slow to arrive: at the St. Petersburg Summit of SCO in 2002, together with the SCO Charter, joint Declaration of the Heads of State of the Member States of the SCO, a Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure was also signed. It was a document on the basis of which RATS appeared (with headquarters in Tashkent), a continuing body for coordinating and promoting collaboration in the direction indicated.
For the entire period of existence, the organization adopted about 40 documents relating to counter-terrorism. Today we can say that in the SCO area the necessary prerequisites are created for confering a systematic and purposeful character to the interaction in the sphere of security. This area remains a priority for all the prospective activities of the organization. The achievement of the objectives of regional security is just the main merit of the SCO at the present stage. According to Cyril Barsky, Russian President's Special Representative on SCO Affairs, "one of the main values, particularly prized in the SCO region is stability. For SCO’s member states the mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and noninterference in internal affairs of each other is a cornerstone of their worldview ".
And it is 11 years behind it. Now the argumentation on youth, formation, lack of experience of the organization, the process of entering into the world’s family (the process of working out the mechanism, the search for relevant decisions still continues though) is not relevant any more. SCO has become a respected regional organization, a structure, causing the interest and successfully fitted into the view of the world. To achieve this effect, the organization has carried out an enormous amount of work.
Of course, the matter may be of some "moment of truth": SCO has managed to become an effective factor in ensuring stability and security. The participants of the Shanghai process achieved a high degree of solidarity in responding to common challenges, in developing joint approaches to management of situations that threaten peace and security in the regional space. But the main thing is that SCO has succeeded in creating in its area an unprecedented atmosphere of trust, and this is the main force of the organization that will remain for ever one as long as such a high degree of mutual trust, political and human continue.
Life absolutely logically took SCO away, beyond the original idea of joint security assurance. It is, of course, remains a priority issue, but the countries moved in other directions of cooperation, initiating programs of mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas. There appeared to be a lot of common interests. Joint humanitarian projects are marching in front of others. The SCO University started to train new level professionals for the region; the "Children Paint Fairy Tales" young artists’ exhibition travels in the solidarized SCO’s area. Unfortunately, the economic component of cooperation is not equally active. So far there is nothing to be said about impressive initiatives of the SCO Business Council, Energy Club, and the Interbank Association created by the organization.
It is clear that these areas of cooperation require overcoming difficult procedures, unusual decisions, political will and, of course, high business initiatives. For the time being, the economic cooperation is of dominant bilateral nature, in the mean time the prospect clearly requires from SCO to have multilateral format of partnership – are interregional points of contact in areas such as energy, transport, ecology, medicine, etc. not enough? The issue of deployment of full-fledged multilateral projects is simply in SCO’s air.
As the organization advances, difficult contradictions emerge our of the texture of life, which not only adversely affect the effectiveness of the achieved agreements, but also serve as a "log on the road" to the Future. Fortunately, all members of the organization understand the need for new impulses and forms of cooperation within the SCO framework, the demand for fresh ideas and bold initiatives.
For example, the SCO proved unable to counteract the "color" revolutions or attempts to change regimes. The organization is no mechanism to facilitate the solution of economic problems, no effective way to reduce social tensions promoting separatism and extremism. SCO was reproached for failing to act to resolve the situation in Tajikistan and pointed to a sluggish response during clashes in Osh, and etc.
There are many potential directions for the SCO development; meanwhile there is no denying the fact of divergence of the partner countries in foreign policy, as well as in formats of cooperation within the SCO. Somehow or other, but everybody equally understand the importance of multilateral projects. Experts believe that it would be reasonable to give practical substance to the idea of the SCO Energy Club, to develop an Asian energy strategy, to integrate all the energy potential. The implementation of this plan would turn the SCO into a self-sufficient energy system in a global context.
According to Professor Alexei Maslov, the famous orientalist, "The crucial task that faces us is to make the SCO recognizability normal in different communities – legal one, business structures, which should take the SCO as a leverage to solve many problems, including commercial, economic ones."
In the organization area there is growing awareness of the need of new impulses, new forms of activity, alignment of priorities and not least, serious examination of the difficulties faced by the organization. If the negative obstacles are not overcome, it may affect the organization’s image, reduce the level of its appeal and influence.
The life process energy is made not only of uncompromising thought forms and projects, but also of collision of positions and opinions. The formation of a unique highly complex system of SCO continues, and the reality is that the accommodation with each other, adjustment of discrepancies, the difficulties of consensus are inevitable. The method of balancing for the sake of reaching consensus requires special flexibility and wisdom.
SCO must necessarily become a mainstay of a security system in Asia. The organization’s specific character lies not only in the fact that it has united the vast territories, vast geographical and economic potential, but also in speed of actions -
it was able to emerge and penetrate the international space in a relatively short period of time, stating its ability to participate in operating security processes.
In the opinion of Alexei Maslov, the institutional problem of SCO in the fact that it was created as an organization on which different countries placed different hopes. "Russia, in my opinion, considered SCO as an organization of European rather than Asian type, i.e. actively interacting, looking into the consolidated decisions on pressing problems, acting with his own opinion. But SCO did not meet these expectations - it became an Asian organization, which conducts a delicate process of bilateral cooperation formalized in a joint decision, says the scientist. - And we can not demand non-Asian thinking from Asian countries. We, therefore, bearing in mind Russia, should get used to it and find a way to interact in such framework."
Another thesis of Professor Maslow, concerning the process of widening scope of the organization seemed to me very important. The thought meant the responsibility when joining SCO: “As soon as the country enters into the organization, it should automatically take on some responsibility for the region development. And those countries are very unconstructive which claim: "In this we are engaged, and this - no".
The Beijing summit will review and approve a declaration on the protection of lasting peace and promoting common prosperity and harmony of life throughout the SCO space, will set out commonly formulated positions on pressing international and regional issues, will consider a strategic development plan ensuring the interests of all participants in the SCO process.
All this, taken together – positions reconsideration and balanced prospection – are the most important issues for the organization that wants to be dynamic, successful and influential, that sets goal to be present in the world space seriously and for the long haul.