The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has backed Russia over Caucasus

On Thursday, despite pessimistic analyst forecasts, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) supported Moscow’s actions in the Caucasus. The position of the largest geopolitical community is very symbolic amid threats that the West could isolate Russia and impose economic sanctions against it.

On the whole, the Dushanbe Declaration, which was adopted at the summit, is no different from earlier balanced statements made by the participants regarding South Ossetia: it was all the same expression of "deep concern" and calls for a "peaceful dialog." However, one phrase stood out, changing the picture completely. "SCO member states welcome the adoption in Moscow on August 12 of the six principles of settlement of the conflict in South Ossetia and support Russia’s active role in its contribution to peace and cooperation in the region," the document underlines.

On Thursday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was beyond doubt in the spotlight at the summit, told his Asian partners about "the real state of affairs" in the Caucasus, which, according to him, differed significantly from "the picture painted by some of the Western media." The partners were deeply moved. "The West has ignored the Georgian troops’ attack on Tskhinvali," news agencies cited Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, with reference to the Mayak radio station. "We all believe that Russia’s subsequent actions were aimed at defending the residents of the stricken city." The support of Kazakhstan, Moscow’s key partner amongst the former Soviet republics, essentially guarantees Russia the support of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which will be holding a summit in Moscow on September 5.

Dmitry Medvedev seemed pleased. He said that he did not consider the SCO to be acting as a counterbalance to NATO, noting that, at the same time, the organization was gaining strength, which was testified by the desire expressed by a number of countries to join. The President reiterated that a decision was made in Dushanbe to create a working group to look into the consequences of a possible expansion by the SCO, whose members currently include China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, while Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan have the status of observers.

Iran expressed its desire to become a fully-fledged member of the SCO several times, but the organization did not hurry to satisfy these requests, unwilling to clash over it with the US. However, changes in world politics that took place after "the awakening of the Russian bear" could open the SCO’s doors for Tehran, which remains one of the key oil suppliers for China. If this should be the case, it may be possible to speak of an unprecedented consolidation of the countries of the Eurasian continent around Beijing and Moscow. This will render the US’s attack on Iran impossible and put an end to America’s plans of redrawing the lines in the Middle East and Central Asia. Experts believe that such developments not only prompt Kremlin to partially reorient its oil and gas exports to China, but also change the entire world order formed after the collapse of the USSR.

In the meantime, another important body could take form in Central Asia: a summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) came to its close in Almaty yesterday. Its participants are trying to resume previously failed attempts at creating an Asian analog to the OSCE. In 2002, the CICA’s first summit took place with the participation of the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Russia, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, and other countries. As RBC Daily was told by a source at Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry, Astana hopes that changes in world politics will give a new boost to the CICA.

[Source: Analytical department of RIA RosBusinessConsulting, Moscow, 30Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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