SCO STUCK IN A RUT

Author: Pavel Tarasenko

SCO STUCK IN A RUT. (By Pavel Tarasenko. Kommersant, Sept. 14, 2013, p. 2. Condensed text:) Bishkek yesterday hosted a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others. . . .

The Bishkek summit participants yesterday did not tire of repeating that during its 12 years of existence, the SCO has become "an effective organization whose experience makes it possible to respond to challenges and threats." The leaders of the SCO member countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and observer countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan) sought to prove that point with a final declaration that devoted considerable space to Syria. In particular, the presidents unanimously supported the idea of holding the Geneva-2 Conference, as well as Russia's initiative to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control [see the first feature in this issue, above]. Vladimir Putin, who spoke in Bishkek about the necessity for "close coordination within the framework of the SCO," should therefore be quite pleased with the results of the meeting.

The signing of the declaration was essentially the only thing the attendees accomplished. For example, no decision was made on a mechanism to finance joint investment projects. Vladimir Putin recalled yesterday that Russia favors the establishment of an SCO development fund, adding that work on other proposals is ongoing.

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He was referring mainly to China's costly idea of creating an SCO development bank [see Current Digest, Vol. 64, No. 23, pp. 9-10]: Beijing is ready to contribute $10 billion as just the first contribution to its startup capital. Moscow, however, doubts the necessity of such an entity. The summit host, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, yesterday sought to preclude any possibility of dispute, announcing diplomatically: "The creation of an SCO bank and an SCO development fund would foster the development of trade and economic ties among the countries." But then, the Russian ...

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