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Outlining the SCO's Future
Cover Stories Series 2012> Outlining the SCO's Future
UPDATED: June 11, 2012 NO. 24 JUNE 14, 2012
Eurasia Meets
SCO leaders gather in Beijing for the future development of this young but vigorous organization
By Ding Ying

SINGING AND DANCING: A Kyrgyz folk artist performs at an SCO art festival that opened on June 6 in Beijing, where traditional art, culture and intangible cultural heritage were on display (CFP)

Future tasks

Observers said the SCO must pay more attention to security. They also said as cooperation under the SCO framework keeps strengthening, the SCO should make more efforts on economic cooperation.

Shi said security challenges will come from both inside and outside the SCO. There will be elections in some SCO members, especially in several Central Asian nations, which could be potential threats to regional stability, he said. Disputes also exist between SCO members, such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Plus, there will always be the existence of the "three evil forces"—terrorism, separatism and extremism.

The biggest security threats, however, come from outside the organization. Apart from Iran's nuclear issue, Afghanistan's future security will be a real headache to the whole region. The United States declared that it will pull out all its troops by 2014. By then, Afghanistan might be a power vacuum for different forces, including extremist forces, Shi warned. "The SCO has to issue a document to deal with emergencies like this. Besides, it should establish a consultation mechanism on Afghanistan," said Shi.

Guan said it will be unrealistic for SCO members to take military actions individually to combat terrorism. However, the SCO has enough political authority and validity to authorize its members to take military actions against terrorism to safeguard regional security, said Guan.

Chinese and Russian observers jointly stressed that economic cooperation must be a focus of the SCO's future development.

Lukin said the urgent task is to establish a financing mechanism for bilateral or multilateral projects. He suggested building a multilateral bank to realize this goal.

"Economic cooperation is relatively behind in the SCO's development, and there must be a breakthrough," said Shi. He said the organization can be creative in finding new cooperative methods such as conducting more bilateral programs, as well as multilateral programs, under the SCO framework.

"China has huge amount of capital to invest and Central Asian countries are very interested," said Luzyanin. He suggested strengthening economic cooperation, especially in transportation and energy. The SCO is planning to establish a road transportation network to link all its members.

At the Beijing summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao promised that China will offer a loan of $10 billion to support economic cooperation in the SCO.

Economic cooperation under the SCO framework can be bilateral. For example, China and Russia are influential powers and both are permanent members of the UN Security Council. Their strengthened economic cooperation will set a good example for other SCO members. However, Luzyanin said economic cooperation must pay special attention to balanced interests among all countries involved. "This is the most complicated part of all economic cooperation," he stressed.

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