News Analysis: Financial crisis, security to top SCO summit agenda

June 14. Xinhua. YEKATERINBURG, Russia

The upcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is expected to touch on a wide range of issues, notably among them the global financial crisis and the security concern of its member states.

REGIONAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION

The global financial crisis has posed severe challenges to the SCO members, all of them developing countries.

All member countries have shown a strong desire to work together to tide over the economic downturn and speed up the recovery of regional economy, though each member has adopted its own economic stimulus packages.

The SCO, a regional organization founded in Shanghai in 2001, groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The past eight years have seen enhanced political mutual trust and deepened multilateral economic and trade cooperation within the group.

Trade volume between China and the other five SCO countries increased to 67.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2007 from 12.1 dollars in 2001, an annual growth of 30 percent.

China’s investment in Russia and the other four SCO members had surpassed 13 billion dollars by the end of 2007.

However, the international financial meltdown, which has taken a heavier toll since the second half of 2008, overshadowed not only the economies of each member country but trade within the bloc as well.

Analysts noted that under the circumstances it is vital for the SCO members to make full use of their vast natural and human resources to expand cooperation and lay a solid basis for the real economy.

The SCO leaders are expected to discuss the facilitation of trade and investment within the organization and the revival of the regional economy at the Yekaterinburg summit.

SECURITY ISSUES

The rampant drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime has made it an absolute necessity for SCO members to strengthen cooperation on security issues, observers said.

Their law enforcement departments have shouldered more responsibilities amid the global financial crisis, as traditional and non-traditional threats interwoven with each other pose long-term and complicated threats to regional development.

On the security situation in Afghanistan, the SCO has boosted cooperation with the international community and the Afghan government, with an aim to improve the situation in the war-torn country and regional security at large.

In March this year, the SCO held a special international conference on Afghanistan in Moscow, and signed a number of statements on fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

The signatories pledged to tap the potential of the organization’s regional anti-terrorist agency and conduct joint anti-terror military exercises to step up efforts to combat terrorism.

The conference also called for international efforts to combat drug trafficking and organized crime, and mapped out action plans in this regard.

The SCO leaders are expected to focus their discussions at the upcoming summit on the crackdown on the three evil forces of terrorism, extremism and separatism.

The summit will inspire member states to deepen cooperation in ensuring regional security and uplift their cooperation to a new high.

REACHING OUT TO WORLD

Another topic expected to top the summit agenda is how to expand the group’s exchanges with the rest of the international community.

As a regional organization aimed at maintaining regional stability and security, the SCO has attracted greater attention and won wider recognition by neighboring countries and the international community.

After Mongolia was granted observer status in 2004, Pakistan, Iran and India were added to the list the following year.

In addition, the SCO has continued its close cooperation with international and regional organizations such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The SCO has maintained a momentum of sound development despite the complex and changing international and regional situations, and has played an increasingly important role in safeguarding the common interests of its member states, ensuring regional peace and security and facilitating common development.

The Yekaterinburg summit will further consolidate the group thanks to the joint efforts of all parties concerned, analysts said.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-06/14/content_11541557.htm

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