The accession of India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as full members is a signal event, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov said during an interview with the TASS news agency.
"The Astana Declaration is indeed a historical document for several reasons. First of all, it reflects the will of the founding SCO states to increase the Organisation's membership. India and Pakistan, both of which have been very active in the SCO as observer states for 12 years, have joined it as full members. This has confirmed the principle of SCO's openness, which was set out in its founding document, the SCO Charter, 15 years ago," Rashid Alimov said.
He recalled that the accession of India and Pakistan was a key issue on the agenda of the Astana Summit, because it was the first time that new members joined the SCO. "I would like to say in this connection that the accession of India and Pakistan was preceded by a long period of preparations, which concluded with these countries' signing of the memorandums of obligations for obtaining the status of a member state of the SCO," the SCO Secretary-General said.
"In my opinion, this is proof of the high standards that India and Pakistan have when it comes to relations with the SCO member states and the general understanding that the accession of such regionally and globally important countries as India and Pakistan will boost multilateral cooperation within the Organisation," Rashid Alimov emphasised.
The principle of openness
Asked whether the SCO would accept more new members, the SCO Secretary-General said: "You will find the answer to this question in the Organisation's fundamental document, the SCO Charter. By the way, on 7 June we marked 15 years since the adoption of this vital document, which sets out the principle of the Organisation's openness. Hence, the incorporation of new members is always on our agenda. Decisions regarding this can be adopted if a candidate country respects the objectives and principles of the SCO Charter and complies with the provisions of other international treaties and documents adopted in the SCO framework."
The heads of the SCO member states who met in Astana recognised the importance of expanding the SCO, thereby reaffirming the principle of its openness, Mr Alimov said.
"As well as this, I would like to say that the SCO comprises more countries than just member states. The SCO family includes four observer states (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia) and six dialogue partners (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka). These countries share our views, goals and values. This is why the SCO heads of states adopted the Astana Declaration, which confirms the importance of deepening cooperation with the observer states and dialogue partners within the SCO to further develop and enhance the Organisation's potential," the SCO Secretary-General said.