Kazakh paper questions Turkey’s motives in seeking ties with SCO

Excerpt from article by Sergey Rasov entitled "Turkey – a Trojan Horse for SCO?" published by opposition Kazakh Respublika newspaper website on 8 June

The summit in Beijing of the heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was marked by adoption of new members.

After a long break, the SCO expanded through giving the observer status to Afghanistan and the status of partner in dialogue to Turkey.

All is clear about Afghanistan: the international coalition forces are already packing up and the neighbours are very concerned about preserving stability in Central Asia.

As the document on granting Afghanistan the observer status says, the SCO countries are "for building in Afghanistan an independent, neutral, peaceful and prosperous state, free from terrorism and drugs," and are for "national reconciliation under the Afghan leadership and by Afghans themselves" and intend to provide assistance to the Afghan people with rebuilding the country.

Though hardly anyone can say what is going to happen to the Islamic Republic [of Afghanistan] after 2014 when the 130,000-strong military contingent leaves the country.

We shall be open, by their decision to give Afghanistan the observer status, the SCO leaders are entering the mode of taking over upon themselves, as this restive country’s neighbours, responsibility for its further stability. Probably, there is no other choice.

What is more interesting is how the SCO activity will be affected by Turkey’s inclusion as a partner in dialogue.

On the one hand, the partner status is lower than that of observer, according to the SCO charter. In particular, partners do not take part in all meetings and have no access to the confidential information, but nevertheless they are involved in drafting SCO documents and strategy.

However, Turkey remains an active member of the North Atlantic Alliance. And it is not a ‘courier boy’ in it but loudly defends its position on the most topical world issues and problems.

Even at a first glance, it is obvious that opinions of the SCO members and Turkey might be fundamentally different.

For instance, NATO’s relations with Iran and Russia leave much to be desired. So how Turkey is going to react if the SCO makes strong-worded statements [against NATO] in the event that relations get tense?

Or, for instance, the SCO summit declaration says that "in the event of a situation threatening peace and stability of one of the SCO member countries, the other members of the organization …[ellipsis as published] must take measures to timely respond to the threat".

And further: "The SCO member countries do not take part in alliances and organizations aimed against the other member countries."

We shall hope that no situation emerges that could lead to a confrontation with the North Atlantic bloc countries. However, the declaration carries a message that "unilateral and unrestricted build-up of air defence systems by one or a group of countries can harm international security and strategic stability".

It is clear that they are talking about the air defence system being built by the United States in Europe that is planned to cover the entire Eurasia along the perimeter, which the SCO countries oppose. But in this case what to do about Turkey?

We shall remind that in September last year Ankara officially agreed to the deployment on its soil elements of the US air defence system.

[Passage omitted: the Turkey-based part of the system is ready now and "first of all" aimed against Iran; the SCO also does not welcome the Arab spring and against military intervention in Syria]

But Turkey with delight hailed "the Arab revolutions". Moreover, the Syrian foreign ministry accuses Turkey of "supporting illegal militant groups" and says that "Turkey is supplying weapons to them, creating a base for training militants and facilitating their illegal crossing into Syria".

How, given such fundamental differences, can they come to any consensus within the SCO?

Of course, Turkey does not have the status of full member of SCO, and it means that it has no geopolitical weight in the organization. However, Turkey is not Kyrgyzstan, but a very ambitious and influential country in the Turkic world that strives to leadership in Central Asia.

No doubt, Turkey will consistently and systematically strive to raise its status in order to have serious influence in the region.

And finally, nobody has explained what are the aims and motives behind Turkey’s arrival in the SCO? Is it the eyes and ears of the USA? A Trojan horse that is going to destroy the current China-Russia balance in the organization? Or is the SCO getting undeniable pluses from expanding to the southern borders of Europe and to the Middle East?

It is too early to make forecasts… [ellipsis as published]

Source: Respublika website, Almaty, in Russian 8 Jun 12

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