Dialogue July-September, 2006, Volume 8 No. 1
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: A Critical Analysis
Dr. Ramakant Dwivedi
The sixth summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was held in Shanghai on June 15, 2006 in the back drop of changing geopolitical shift in the Central Asian region. The change is caused by Russian reassertion in the region, increasing engagement of China with Central Asian Republics both at the bilateral and multilateral levels and U. S. moves to gain the lost ground in the region. “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyz Republic in March 2005 and “Andijon Events during May 12-15, 2005” in Uzbek part of Ferghana Valley followed by U. S. military withdrawal from Uzbekistan have brought in the forefront the issue of re-play of the “Great Game” in Central Asia. These developments were preceded by “Rose Revolution” in Georgia in 2003 and “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in 2004 in the wake of presidential/parliamentary elections in these countries. Analysts predicted that “Colour Revolutions” would have a domino impact on Central Asia region. This seems to be an extrapolative leap from inadequate database. The change of regimes in Ukraine and Georgia gave a wake up call to the leaders in Central Asian Republics about the “democratic agenda” of the Western powers. This led to China, Russia and Central Asian Republics coming closer to counter balance this ‘agenda’. SCO provides a good platform to achieve this objective as none of the SCO member countries is capable to counter the U S and its western allies in the region alone.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was established by China, Russia and Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on June 14, 2001 in Shanghai. Its objectives include (a) creation and institutionalisation of cooperation mechanisms in border security, confidence building, anti-terrorist/separatist/ extremist activities; (b) economic cooperation; (c) social/cultural exchanges and d) creation of a mechanism for dispute resolution among SCO members. SCO has four observers i.e., Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran. Mongolia was given Observer status in SCO’s Tashkent Summit in June 2004; and, India, Pakistan and Iran were given Observer status in the Astana Summit of July 2005.1
Back in the nineties the Shanghai-Five, the predecessor of SCO had focused on peace and stability on China’s common borders with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. After the settlement of border question the Chinese concern was to maintain peace and stability on the border. The core of the Shanghai spirit was good neighbourly attitude, friendship and cooperation. With the rise in non-traditional threats and the vulnerability of Central Asian Republics to these dangerous forces, the security agenda of the Shanghai-Five gradually began to expand.
Shanghai Five’s (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) first meeting in 1996 in Shanghai and the second meeting in 1997 in Moscow laid the foundation of the current SCO. Shanghai Five was committed to fostering friendly relations, cooperation and promote mutual military trust among its members. The primary objective of the 1998 meeting in Almaty of the Shanghai Five was to take forward the joint statements of the 1996 and 1997 meetings, including Soviet-era legacy related to borders and to make the organization more active in resolving regional issues. Central Asia was the zone of high concentration of opposing Soviet and Chinese forces during the Cold War. Shanghai Five decided to turn what was once a major zone of tension into a zone of security. The Shanghai Five meeting in 1999 in Bishkek was successful in reviving the “Silk Route” trade and helped create greater economic integration of Central Asian Republics, Russia and China. The Dushanbe meeting of the Shanghai Five in 2000 reacted to U. S. foreign policy for the first time. The immediate cause for this was the NATO war in Yugoslavia without Security Council approval. In a joint communiqué, the Shanghai Five highlighted the importance of the Security Council and criticised the use of Human Rights to erode the national sovereignty of Republics. Also, it was the first time that Shanghai Five highlighted collective fight against international terrorism, religious extremism and separatism. Uzbekistan was admitted as an Observer. In June 2001, the Shanghai Five made Uzbekistan a full member and the mechanism became the Shanghai Six. All six Heads of State signed the Declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on 15 June, 2001.
In July 2001, Russia and China signed the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation.2 SCO extended support to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and opposed the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) program in June 2001. It declared Central Asia as a Nuclear Free Zone. Members also indicated that they wished to start a dialogue with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum. The main output of this conference was the document entitled “The Shanghai Convention on fighting Terrorism, Separatism and Religious Extremism.”3 In June 2002, the SCO signed the Agreement on Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS). This is a significant agreement because it called for clear-cut legal framework, practical interactions in the struggle against terrorism, separatism, and extremism.4 The May 2003 SCO summit in Moscow approved the establishment of the SCO Secretariat in Beijing and transfer of the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) from Bishkek to Tashkent. SCO also conducted its first joint exercise during August 7-12, 2003. SCO held a follow-up economic cooperation and integration ministerial meeting in Beijing after the session in Moscow in 2003. The Prime Ministers settled on a budget for the organization’s secretariat and the Regional Anti –Terrorism Structure (RATS) in Tashkent. The officials finalised six additional documents on SCO institutionalization. The documents solidified multilateral economic and trade cooperation.5
The June 2004 meeting in Tashkent further concretised SCO’s framework and approved Mongolia as a SCO observer. On the issue of security and stability in the region, Russia put forth an initiative to create a SCO-Afghanistan contact group to revive the Afghan economy. SCO members also signed an agreement outlining cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking. Russian President Putin emphasised the importance of the SCO in the initiative to create anti-drug security belts around Afghanistan.6
The summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held in Astana in Kazakhstan during July 5-6, 2005 focused on the economics and proposed to establish a comprehensive regional development fund and a Business Council. Documents on cooperation with ASEAN and the CIS were drafted and SCO received the observer status at the UN General Assembly. An important outcome of the 2005 SCO summit was a call to USA to set a firm deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO armed forces present on the territory of SCO member-countries as part of the US-led “anti-terrorist coalition”.7 USA, on its part, has tried to deflect this call by claiming that its presence is governed by bilateral agreements with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is pertinent to note that Uzbek officials gave notice to Washington DC on July 31, 2005 to wind down the Karshi-Khanabad (K-2) air base on the Uzbek-Afghan border within 6 months. It is known that United Republics’ military flew its last plane out from K-2 on November 21, 2005.8 This clearly demonstrated that Russia, China and Central Asian Republics together would like to be in charge of regional security within the framework of SCO. Some analysts believe that Uzbek President Islam Karimov was behind the general push for the anti-U.S. declaration in response to U.S. criticism of Tashkent’s refusal to permit an international investigation into events in Andijon during May 12-14, 2005.9 SCO members have appreciated Karimov’s handling of the Andijon unrest. Moscow and Beijing have backed Tashkent during the latest downturn in U S -Uzbek relations.
At the SCO summit in Shanghai on June 15, 2006, 10 agreements were signed which included ‘An agreement on the procedure of organising and holding joint anti-terrorism actions in the territories of SCO member Republics, an agreement on identifying and severing infiltrating channels of people engaged in terrorism, separatism and extremism in the territories of SCO member Republics, an intergovernmental educational cooperation agreement of SCO member Republics, a resolution of the SCO Business Council, and an action plan of SCO Inter-bank Association member banks on supporting regional economic cooperation’.10
It seems on the sidelines of the summit business worth US $2 billion was transacted. The main highlight of the summit was the consolidation of the security dimension. In fact the Declaration adopted at the summit indicated a trend towards consolidation of security interests. It was stated “what specific means to be adopted to safeguard security of the region is the right and responsibility of countries in the region.... The SCO will make a constructive contribution to the establishment of new global security architecture”. Declaration unambiguously stated that diversity of cultures and model of development must be respected and upheld. Interference in the internal affairs of a country on the pretext of “Colour Revolution” was not acceptable. This was reflected further in the Declaration when it was explicitly stated “Model of social development should not be exported”.
Another striking aspect about the summit was that although a lot of media attention was focused on Iran and Pakistan expressing their desire for full membership, the SCO summit probably did not even discuss this issue. In fact while delivering their speeches countries with observer status had to follow the guidelines laid down for them. Perhaps expansion of its membership is not a priority for the SCO. For the present its priority is to make the regional grouping an efficient and an effective organization. Moreover, the SCO Charter is silent on the issue of membership. New rules need to be framed and adopted. In this regard the Assistant Foreign Minister of China Mr. Li Hui explained that the regional grouping lacks the legal document on the issue of accepting new members. He expressed the hope that such a document would be prepared soon. It seems before being upgraded to full membership, observers would undergo an intermediate stage, that is, of “dialogue partner”.
Another interesting aspect that is gradually acquiring significance in such multilateral gatherings is the high level diplomatic initiatives on the sidelines. President Pervez Musharaff of Pakistan used the opportunity to seek China’s cooperation for its civil-nuclear energy programme and the strong support to the Iran-Pakistan and India (IPI) gas pipeline.
Thus the SCO is slowly but surely emerging as a significant regional grouping in Eurasia. What has enhanced the significance of SCO is the shift in international politics from Europe to Eurasia. The abundant natural resources of the Eurasian region including energy sources and the strong possibility of Eurasia also emerging as the hub of transport corridors has tremendously added to the significance of SCO.
SCO is also expanding its economic agenda and most likely it will succeed in promoting economic cooperation and integration among member countries apart from fighting against terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. China and SCO members are, already working on 127 joint projects covering the areas of trade, investments, custom, finance, taxation, transportation, energy ad other areas of mutual interest. The SCO Summit in June 2006 has also demonstrated that Russia and China would protect their common interests in Central Asia. These interests include containing the U.S. influence in the region, fighting terrorism and religious extremism and controlling the energy resources of the region.
International Issues and SCO
Operation Enduring Freedom, in Post 9/11 phase, led by the U. S. swept the Taliban regime out of power in Afghanistan. Since then, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is engaged in promoting stability and security in the region. This has had a positive impact on all the Central Asian countries, especially on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan where heightened militant activities by religious extremists and terrorists have posed security challenges. Nevertheless, the military presence of the West in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (till November 05) has changed the geopolitical map of Central Asia. The US has emerged as a powerful player in the region. Russia’s assent to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan granting military base facilities to the US has played an important role. The expectation was that such military presence would be limited in time and scope. In the process, US involvement in Central Asia has actually deepened. Apart from the military base facilities at Ganci near Manas airport in Kyrgyzstan and Karshi-Khanabad (K-2) in Uzbekistan, others like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have also offered support to Washington. Clearly, this shows the ineffectiveness of the SCO in evolving a regional security mechanism. There was unease and disquiet in many circles, especially the Russian armed forces that US military presence is not going to be for short period; and, there is possibly a hidden agenda. The agenda could be control of the energy resources of Central Asia and reduction of Russian influence in the region. Such a perception is natural against the background of eastward expansion of NATO.
The United States has emerged as a powerful player in the region. Earlier, Russia was the chief guarantor of stability and security in Central Asia. With religious extremism and terrorism acquiring global dimensions and the emergence of Afghanistan as the epicenter of extremism and terrorism, a global effort to fight this challenge became inevitable. Such an effort needed coordination and cooperation of all the Republics of the region and beyond. Russia and China extended full support and cooperation to Operation Enduring Freedom. Since Russia was facing challenges in Chechnya, Moscow’s support was understandable. Similarly China has been facing Uighurs ‘Islamic resurgence’ in Xinjiang region. However, both Moscow and Beijing view long stay of U. S. forces in Central Asia as detrimental to their interests.
Foreign Policies of Central Asian Republics
The foreign policy priorities of Central Asian Republics have been one of multiple alignments or ‘an open door policy’. After the collapse of the Soviet Union substantial federal subsidies that kept the republics going, dried up. Consequently, the Central Asian Republics opened their doors to external aid and borrowing for all important sectors of economy and social sectors at large. Geopolitical compulsions — Central Asian Republics are landlocked and three of them have common border with China — would imply a policy of engagement and friendship with China. According to a Chinese scholar Zhaunghzi, “SCO members share a common border. It is unimaginable for Central Asian countries to develop their economies and maintain domestic stability without the support from their neighbours.”11
Since the late 1990s, Uzbekistan was distancing itself from Russian dominated regional economic and security groupings but the Andijon events changed foreign policy orientation of Tashkent. Uzbekistan returned back to the Collective Security Organisation (CSTO) this year, from which it withdrew in 1999, and also joined Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) in January 2006.12 The EEC was established in 2001, by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan for regional economic promotion and integration.Central Asian Republics’ initiatives aimed at promoting regional cooperation have not been very successful. Formation of the Central Asian Economic Community (CAEC), Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) and Central Asian Economic Union (CAEU) couldn’t achieve desirable goals. On the other side, SCO is likely to succeed in promoting regional economic cooperation and integration.
However, some Central Asian analysts and diplomats fear a “creeping Chinese expansion” in the region especially in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Murat Auezov, a former Kazakh ambassador to Beijing says. “China is a great neighbor for us, and we can benefit from it. But we need to be prepared. I believe the best means to preparedness is a conscious consolidation and solidarity of the Central Asian Republics and peoples. We, neighbours, have certain problems — for example, border and water issues. But we should be able to stand together. We will maintain our sovereignty and freedom if we’re able to create a well-functioning Central Asian brotherhood.”13 Prof Khaydarov, former deputy foreign minister of Uzbekistan, expressed the same views.14 Auezov expressed concerns over China’s plans to extract water from the Ili and Irtysh rivers for Urumchi oil field development in Xinjiang Region. This is an extremely important question for Astana as water has become a strategic issue in Central Asian region. Both the rivers rise in China; the Ili passes through Kazakhstan before terminating in Lake Balkhash and the Irtysh travels through Kazakhstan before joining up the with the Russian Ob river.
Despite these apprehensions of Central Asian scholars about one of the prime movers of the SCO, the Organisation has succeeded in emerging as a dynamic and a leading regional grouping. China has also followed a process of sustained engagement with the Central Asian Republics at the bilateral level. With the integration of the Central Asian Republics into the world economy, Central Asian region could undergo a sea change. This process need to be observed as it would affect the future course of the SCO and the Central Asian Republics ties with China and Russia.
Challenges and Prospects
Russia and China are the two major powers with in the SCO. Since the settlement of their border, they have forged close strategic partnership and there is a compatibility of views on issues of international security. The Treaty of Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation of 2001 symbolises the close and cordial relations between Russia and China. This compatibility of views is a positive factor in SCO. Central Asian Republics, new entrants to international politics, are small by comparison and are in different stages of their transformation. They are still to acquire and build their own defence capability. In security matters Russia plays a dominant role in Central Asia except in Uzbekistan which has been able to set up its own modest defence infrastructure. SCO success will depend on the nature of relationship between Russia and China. However, differences emerging between Russia and China cannot be discounted in the future. One potential area of difference could be Central Asia. Russia has regained some of its lost influence in Central Asia whereas China has been focusing on economic cooperation and development. In Chinese view development could also act as a tool for regional cooperation. This could ensure stability of the Central Asian region – the essence of Shanghai spirit. The possible scenario of Russia-China relations deteriorating to a conflictual level over Central Asia is remote for the present. Nevertheless any sign of differences among the two powers would have an impact on Central Asia. Moreover, Russia and Central Asian Republics are moving towards open societies. In future this eventuality could also have an impact on SCO. Presently, it can be said that Russian and Chinese partnership would continue in the immediate future. Both are powerful countries and will not allow strains and differences to affect their relationship.
Another important organisation active in the Central Asian region is the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) which was established in April 2003 at Dushanbe by Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The CSTO has its own Rapid Deployment Force located at Bishkek and has military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In August 2004 the CSTO completed military exercises “Rubezh 2004” in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz leader called the Rapid Deployment Force of CSTO a “bastion of security in Central Asia. Now the member countries of the CSTO have both a reliable shield and an avenging sword.”15 The aim of CSTO is to bring about greater defence cooperation among the members. The position of CSTO has strengthened recently with Uzbekistan, a strategically important state in Central Asia, joining it. It may be pointed out that Uzbekistan had left the Collective Security Treaty in 1999. With Uzbekistan joining the CSTO, the organization stands to benefit a great deal as Uzbekistan is reported to have the strongest military in Central Asian region. The CSTO also plans to oppose West sponsored ‘Colour Revolutions’. The Collective Rapid Reaction Forces are deployed in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Russian military presence is necessary to repel the militants crossing the border. However, the large military presence of Russia is viewed as a projection of its power. The SCO unlike the CSTO does not have in its Charter a provision on collective defense of its members by others in the event of an outside attack. The SCO military component stipulates for collective resistance to non-state actors such as Islamic Movement of Turkestan (IMT) and international terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda if they cross the border of a member country.16 Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), an initiative of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, focusses on promoting cooperation and confidence building measures among member countries. Two Summits of CICA have already been held in Almaty. The 2nd Summit of the CICA was held in Almaty in June 2006 and the 1st was held in 2002. At both the Summits, the Mantra articulated was aimed at enhancing economic cooperation/engagement among member countries and evolving strategy to fight against extremist and terrorist forces.
At the economic level there are several groupings. Eurasian Economic Community established (EEC) in 2001 with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan also aims for greater economic cooperation among its members and would like to bring about regional cooperation. The SCO has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with it. The Commonwealth of Independent Republics (CIS) has numerous structures espousing objectives that are similar to that of SCO, though the CIS has not been able to achieve much success except in the sphere of security issues. Central Asian Republics themselves have not been very successful in promoting regional cooperation. However Central Asian Republics repose their trust in Russia especially in security matters. In economic cooperation the SCO has many miles to go since it is a long process with long-term objectives.
An equally important challenge is what is the priority of SCO in the foreign policies of the Central Asian countries? Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are pursuing a ‘multi-vector’ policy. The question is to what extent the Central Asian countries are willing to invest in SCO? Another dimension is that China’s relations with these countries outside the framework of SCO are yet to assume a position of high priority except with Kazakhstan with which it has a relationship of strategic partnership. Importantly the Central Asian Republics are aware of the geopolitical compulsions and hence will have to maintain friendly ties with China. Therefore in the foreseeable future geopolitical compulsions will continue to dominate the Central Asian Republics’ action.
In the final analysis, SCO is aiming to promote economic cooperation and development among its members. Economic development would certainly lead to a better quality of life for the people and help in maintaining stability in the region. The institutional structures, however, need to be strengthened. Since Russia and China are the prime backers of SCO, a great deal would depend on the nature of their relationship. Much would depend on the kind of development and orientation that takes place within Central Asia and the political will of its leaders.
India and SCO
In order to understand what is driving India’s interest in joining the SCO, it is important to understand how India views her regional interest in Central Asia which is considered as an extended neighbourhood with which New Delhi share a range of strategic interest. Also important is to see New Delhi’s relations with other SCO members. Historically India’s relations with Central Asia were very cordial and productive. This link was broken during Anglo-Russian rivalry of the 19th Century which has been described by some as the ‘Great Game’ for containment of Russian ambitions. In the 19th Century, Central Asia was the arena of the “Great Game” in which the Tsarist Russia and the British Empire competed for strategic primacy. Today, U. S., Russia and China are competing for a similar supremacy in the region.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 has changed the geopolitical map of the region. And, the current politico-economic scenario presents both challenges and opportunities to India to contribute to the politico-socio-economic processes in operation now. Further, the Central Asian Republics could be an attractive alternate source for energy materials to the traditional West Asian sources. As such, India’s participation in SCO would promote beneficial interactions. New Delhi enjoys tremendous goodwill compare to other major players in the region and is considered a benign neighbour. The Indian PM’s visit to Tashkent (April 25-26, 2006) and Tajik President’s visit to India (Aug 6-10, 2006) are considered right steps forward in enhancing the depth and width of our relations. India needs to play a pro-active role in the prevailing geo-political situation in Central Asia by engaging in economic cooperation in more sustained and coherent way. Economic and political interests are India’s prime motivation for joining the SCO. Energy security is paramount for a developing country like India, which has begun to grow at an accelerated pace. Central Asian Republics could provide a modicum of energy security to India. India will have to take imaginative economic initiatives towards the hydrocarbon rich countries of Central Asia. Our enormous engineering expertise in downstream activities has to be effectively utilised so that Central Asian Republics acquire the capability to be exporters of high-end products. For many ongoing projects in Central Asia, European companies use India as manpower base. Indian medium and large companies do have the capability to execute large engineering projects. But, they seek to reduce their risks by being subcontractors to western companies. This situation must change based on agreements between India and Central Asian Republics. In terms of Indian engineering companies getting engaged in Central Asia; two aspects are important: a) opportunities in small and medium enterprises where Indian companies can contribute to the industrial development of Central Asia and b) local laws/regulations in the Central Asian Republics which protect the interest of investors from India. India’s emergence as a major player in the international arena, especially in information technology (IT), science and areas of high technology has opened up new opportunities for energised interaction with the Central Asian Republics. While India may not have direct access to Central Asia, Indian participation in the region in partnership with Russia and China is worth exploring.
References & Notes
1. http://www.sectsco.org (Accessed on July 10, 2006)
2. http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjdt/2649/t15771.htm (Accessed on March 15, 2003)
3. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/14/eca13545.htm (Accessed on June 26, 2005)
4. http://english.scosummit2006.org/en_bjzl/2006-04/21/content_156.htm (Accessed on June 20, 2006)
7. www.uzreport.com (Accessed on July 15, 2005)
8. Murray, Craig, “Uzbekistan switching its gaze to Russia”, http://www.craigmurray.co.uk/archives/2005/11/uzbekistan_swit.html (Accessed on December 15, 2005)
9. Turner, E. Jefferson, “What is Driving India’s and Pakistan’s Interest in joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?”, http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2005/Aug/turnerAug05.asp (Accessed on December 18, 2005)
11. Zhaunghzi, S., “New and Old Regionalism: The SCO and Sino-Central Asian Relations”, The Review of International Affairs, 3(4), 2004, p. 606. 30, 2006)
12. “Uzbekistan Lifts Moratorium on attending CSTO Meeting”, www.uzreport.com (Accessed on June 30, 2006)
13. Interview with Murat Auezov in Almaty, Kazakhstan June 6, 2006.
14. Interview with Prof Khaydarov, Online July 15, 2006.
15. The Times of Central Asia, Bishkek, August 12, 2004.
16. www.mosnews.com/news/2006russiachinasco (Accessed on 15 May 2006).
Selected list of Agreements signed between Shanghai Five
1. The Shanghai Five grouping was originally created in 1996 with the signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions in Shanghai by the heads of Republics of China, Kazakhstan, , Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
2. In 1997 the same countries signed the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions in a meeting in Moscow.
Selected list of Agreements signed between
SCO member Republics
1. Six heads of state of China, Kazakhstan, , Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed on 15 June, 2001, the Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in Shanghai, China.
2. In July 2001, Russia and the China, the organization’s two leading nations, signed the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation.
3. In June 2002, the SCO signed the Agreement between the member Republics of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS).
4. In June 2002 in St. Petersburg, Russia, the heads of the SCO member Republics signed the SCO Charter which expounded on the organization’s purposes, principles, structures and form of operation, and established it officially from the point of view of international law.
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