Kremlin explains purpose of world’s biggest regional bloc
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – the world’s biggest regional bloc, which counts Russia and China among its members but is set to expand – is not an alternative to a military alliance, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Thursday.
According to Peskov “all relations in the SCO are built on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s interests and mutual benefit.”
“No one sets the goal of making the SCO an alternative to a military organization. This is friendship in the name of something, not against someone,” he said.
In the wake of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, relations between Moscow and the West are at an all-time low. As NATO continues to expand and its members impose economic sanctions on Russia, Moscow insists that any attempts to isolate the country will fail. The key organizations that Russia is a part of, such as the BRICS and SCO, are also expanding. Iran and Argentina officially applied for BRICS membership in late June, and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt have shown interest in joining the bloc.
Ahead of the summit in Samarkand, SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming said the suggestion that there is “a long queue outside the door” to the organization is not an exaggeration.
On Thursday, the SCO signed a protocol with Iran which paves the way for the country’s full accession.
The SCO encompasses 40% of the world’s population, and more than 30% of global GDP.
The organization currently has eight full members: Russia, India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan. Belarus and Iran are now in the process of joining the SCO and have observer status, along with Afghanistan and Mongolia.
On Tuesday, Uzbekistan’s national SCO coordinator, Rakhmatulla Nurimbetov, revealed that six countries will receive the status of dialogue partners during the summit.