Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit Begins

The first day will be devoted to bilateral meetings of the SCO leaders. Putin is expected to hold talks with Xi Jinping and Erdogan. Indian Prime Minister Modi is absent but will visit Moscow on July 8-9 to sign, among other things, a Russian-Indian military logistics agreement

Vladimir Putin è arrivato ad Astana

Two days of work (July 3-4) of the 24th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) began in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, with a series of bilateral meetings between the leaders of the member states of this authoritative international group. Russian presidential adviser Yuri Ushakov said President Vladimir Putin first met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and will then have a private conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Putin and Erdogan will discuss, among other things, the Russian president’s next trip to Turkey.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was founded in 2001 by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, four of the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The main purpose of this international organization is to combat terrorism, extremism, and separatism in the Central Asian region and to promote its stability and security.

After subsequent expansion to 9 member states (Iran, India, Pakistan), the SCO has become an important forum for political, economic, and security cooperation among its members. In addition to countering terrorism and extremism, the organization also seeks to promote trade and investment, economic cooperation, and the exchange of information and intelligence. The SCO has also established partnerships with other countries and international organizations. Currently, 3 countries, namely Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia, have observer status with the SCO, while there are 15 other countries as dialog partners, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Another 8 countries have applied for observer status, including Algeria, Iraq, Israel, Iraq, Syria, and Vietnam.

After the first day, devoted to bilateral meetings, the SCO summit participants at the July 4 meeting will exchange views on the international and regional agenda and discuss cooperation in various spheres. As Adviser Ushakov warned journalists, “the results of the State Committee’s activities in 2023-2024 will be summed up, and the issues of further strengthening of the organization, development of cooperation in the spheres of politics, security, economy, and so on will be discussed.” In addition, “as always, the heads of state will exchange views on topical issues on the international and regional agenda,” the Kremlin spokesman said. Summit participants will also discuss comprehensive modernization of the organization’s activities “in line with current international realities.”

On the sidelines of the summit, Putin will also meet with Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh; Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev; Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif; and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the SCO meeting as he has to participate in the first session of the new Indian parliament during the summit in Kazakhstan. A large Indian delegation arrived in Astana under the leadership of Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. After arriving in the capital of Kazakhstan, the head of Indian diplomacy expressed confidence that the summit allows “to review the activities of the organization over the past two decades and discuss the status and prospects of multilateral cooperation.” India’s priorities in the SCO, the minister recalled, reflect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a SECURE SCO: an English acronym for security, economic cooperation, connectivity, unity, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and environmental protection.

Modi’s absence from the summit doesn’t bother Russia, as the Indian prime minister will go on a state visit to Moscow on July 8 and 9 to discuss with Putin “the conflict in Ukraine, resolve difficulties in paying for energy supplies related to international sanctions against Russia, and conclude negotiations on an important military logistics agreement that could pave the way for increased defense trade between Moscow and New Delhi.” According to Indian media, Modi and Putin’s talks are also expected to focus on “gradually increasing trade, related primarily to India’s oil imports.” In this context, it will be necessary to sign a memorandum to open a new maritime trade route between the Indian port of Chennai (formerly Madras) and the port of Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean.