Interview with Ivan Safranchuk
Russia Today: What sort of role is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization trying to scope out for itself now?
Ivan Safranchuk: Shanghai Cooperation Organization wants to be a regional organization useful to all its members and able to cope with various threats which are present in the region. These are security threats and these are also energy challenges. So I would say that Shanghai Organization wants to be so powerful in the Central Asia or in broad Central Asia that its members do not need any other partners like NATO or EU and so on. It should be a universal and powerful organization in the region.
RT: It is very interesting. Is the organisation trying to be a kind of equivalent of NATO?
I.S.: Well, NATO in the region is quite small and weak. NATO is not very well represented in Central Asia. That is why to be an equivalent of NATO in Central Asia is not a big ambition. I think Shanghai Organization wants to be much more in Central Asia. I think Shanghai Organization wants to be so useful to its members that they do not actually need NATO. To put it bluntly I would say that Shanghai Organization wants not to allow NATO in the region and to squeeze out what is now of NATO in the region.
RT: Actually many other representatives of Central Asia and the Middle East are actually present at the moment at the meeting. What are the chances they will join the organization? Do they want to join the organisation?
I.S.: Some observers to the Shanghai Organization want to join it, for example Iran. Iran is really knocking on the door of the Shanghai Organization but I do not think it will be admitted in the near future, it will remain with a status of observer. But besides observers, who are India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia, also at this summit there are guests, those who are not even observers. This is Turkmenistan, the only Central Asian country which is not a member of the Organization. This is also Afghanistan which is represented by the president at this meeting. And I think it is extremely important that Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov, the new president of Turkmenistan, has attended this summit and I think it is very likely that he will be engaged in the work with the Organization. The matter of the status is still open but maybe he will become an observer. I do not think that Turkmenistan will become a full member of Shanghai Organization but it may become an observer or even without observer's status it may become more engaged with the work of Shanghai Organization.