On June 13-14, 2019, the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) met in Bishkek. The leaders of the SCO member and observer states arrived in Kyrgyzstan, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan; this was their first meeting since the escalation of the armed conflict in Kashmir in February. Islamabad’s decision to open its airspace for the flight of the Prime Minister of India can be considered a positive signal.
Traditionally, certain issues are discussed within the framework of the SCO, including economic and security cooperation, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, and cultural interaction and exchanges. However, in Bishkek, at the initiative of the Chinese delegation, the focus was on the economy. This was not accidental, as Beijing is concerned about the trade wars that have been unleashed by the Trump administration, not only against China and Mexico, but also against its own allies – the EU and Canada. Moreover, the summit took place against the background of unprecedentedly stringent financial and economic sanctions against Iran, the aggravation of relations with Turkey over the latter’s purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, and the serious, ongoing US- Russia confrontation. As Chinese President Xi Jinping noted on the eve of the summit, “the creation of the SCO was not directed against outside countries,” but the current situation forces us to consider the trade friction between China and the US within the framework of the “SCO family”.
The enlarged dialogue between the members of the “SCO family” will continue in Dushanbe, which will host, on June 15, 2019, the 5th summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) bringing together 27 states within Eurasia. Another eight states and eight international organizations, including the UN, have observer status. SCO is a partner of this forum. The focus of this event will be on economic stability and security. The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon will take place on the sidelines of the CICA.Thus, the SCO summit in Bishkek convincingly showed that the role of the SCO in solving not only regional, but also global problems is gradually increasing. The admission of India and Pakistan into the Organisation changed it qualitatively, but it will take considerable time to adapt the new members and form a new SCO core with Russia, India and China. The Bishkek summit was an important step on this difficult path.