Putin to discuss Ukraine with Asian allies in Dushanbe

Putin to discuss Ukraine with Asian allies in Dushanbe
The Russian president is starting his visit to Tajikistan to take part in a major SCO summit, discussing ways to boost cooperation and also the political bloc’s policies regarding the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization unites Russia, China and ex-Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, all of which are Russia’s allies in trade, politics and defense. Such regional majors as India and Iran hold observer status in the organization.

The combined population of SCO member-states amounts to 1.45 billion people, or a quarter of the world’s population.

The summit will be dedicated to traditional topics – stepping up cooperation within the bloc and boosting its global influence.

The remaining instability of the world economy and the potential return of crisis manifestations demand to intensify the economic cooperation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wrote in an article published by the Russian government’s daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Wednesday.

According to Lavrov, regional security will also remain SCO’s top priority, including the joint fight against terrorism, extremism and especially with illegal drug trafficking from Afghanistan as the situation in that country continues to degrade.

Practical steps to achieve these goals could include adopting a new procedure of accepting members and a new standard memorandum of obligations of candidate-states, as revealed by the deputy foreign minister of Tajikistan, Parviz Davlatzoda. The Tajik statesman expressed hopes that these documents would eventually lead to a broadening of the group and improvement of regional cooperation.

Davlatzoda also said that the summit would result in signing of the Dushanbe declaration summarizing member-states’ position on the current situation in Ukraine.

We have suggested to our partners a balanced and good formula that includes all recent developments and the implementation of President Putin’s peace plan. The formula does not infringe on anyone’s interests, but states the facts,” the Tajik official noted.

Presently the SCO is considering official applications from Iran and Pakistan, but it is possible that India will join them in the nearest future, Russia’s RBC news agency reported quoting an unnamed diplomatic source. The same source noted that despite the fact that the SCO’s current rules do not allow it to accept a country affected by UN sanctions, Iran shows intense interest in it and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani is expected at the forthcoming summit in Dushanbe.

The economic component of the summit will include the discussion on the joint financial institute that would sponsor the group’s joint project. Earlier Russia has suggested launching the new institution on the basis of the existing Eurasian Development Bank (a Russia-Kazakhstan project with several minor regional participants).

China insists on creating a separate and independent SCO Development Bank, but other nations, including Russia, oppose this suggestion over fears of Chinese domination of the institution.

After the summit that is scheduled for September 11-12 Russia will take the rotating leadership in the bloc and begin preparations to the 2015 summit of the SCO’s heads of states that will take place in Ufa. By this time the members are expected to prepare and draft the joint strategy of development until 2025.