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Millennium Post

Together in Eurasia

The visit of External Affairs Minister SM Krishna to China to participate in the 12th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)  is significant as this is an organisation that will play an increasingly weighty role in Asia in the future. Even as the SCO follows ‘new trends’ in security and development to increase regional cooperation and fight interventionism, India, which has an observer status in the organisation, will be pressing for the full membership. The SCO is a relatively new but increasingly important organisation of intergovernmental cooperation on the Asian landmass and India can yet redefine its role within it, as it is being urged to do so, principally by Russia. Originally called the Shanghai Five, the SCO consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Along with the countries which have observer status, it covers a very large part of the landmass of the Eurasia and contains a substantial portion of the world population. It was Zbigniew Brzezinski, the American political scientist and policy advisor, who noted that the control of the Eurasian landmass is the key to global domination and control of Central Asia is the key to control of the Eurasian landmass. Russia and China have been paying attention to Brzezinski’s theory, by creating the SCO, ostensibly to curb extremism in the region and enhance border security, but  also as a counterbalancing force to other powerful groupings. At its fifth summit in Kazakhstan, which representatives of India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan attended for the first time, the president of the host country, Nursultan Nazarbayev, had said, ‘The leaders of the states sitting at this negotiation table are representatives of half of humanity’.

The SCO, thus, has the potential to become a geo-political international formation of considerable weight and an Asian conference of importance. The SCO is becoming a forum for cooperation in the security, economic and cultural matters. At the present summit, among other issues, the leaders are expected to discuss the situation in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the departure of US-led NATO troops in 2014, a dialogue from which India can be left out only at its peril.  Even as India backs the grouping’s role in stabilising Afghanistan, it must continue to press for the full membership, which will also help improve its relations with other countries of the region, including China.
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