The Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit has concluded, doing little to dispel perceptions that it is an anti-Western talk shop. The two pieces of news that have gotten the most attention from the summit are the statement opposing U.S. missile defense plans, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling on the group to form a new world order to replace the current one that is "managed and run by slavers and colonizers of the past." There was also some pointed commentary on the "Arab Spring," with the suggestion that Arab countries develop democracy "in accordance with their own history and cultural traditions."
But there were some substantive developments as well. As expected, the group made a step toward admitting India, Pakistan and Iran as new members. Those three countries are currently all observer states of the SCO, along with Mongolia, which appears not to have taken this step -- on which more in an upcoming post. There was talk of Afghanistan joining as an observer during this summit, though that appears not to have happened.
And the SCO signed an agreement on cooperation on drug trafficking with the United Nations, signaling the group's increasing legitimacy among established international organizations.
And although there doesn't seem to have been much specific action taken in the economic realm, there seems to have been a lot of discussion of greater economic cooperation among SCO states. From China Daily:
As China will hold the rotating presidency of the bloc after the summit, Hu proposed to further push forward the region's economic integration and step up efforts to guarantee energy, food and financial security. "China will continue to offer favorable loans to member states," Hu said...
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged that a road map be drawn up to develop large regional projects by the end of the year.
He said that joint economic projects could include the setting up of a venture fund, a commercial center and the establishment of a feasibility fund that would look at the suitability of potential projects, according to Russian news agency, RIA Novosti.
Trend news agency reported that Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov supported the establishment of the SCO Development Bank to finance major projects in Central Asia.
"The SCO will become an attractive structure if it assumes specific commitments. The establishment of the SCO bank will effectively resolve the challenges of development," Karimov said.
Security-wise, there was discussion of a conflict-resolution mechanism, but the movement in an economic direction was hard to miss. In which case, it may cease being an appropriate subject for this blog...