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Eastrussia.ru understands the political intricacies of the BRICS and SCO summits held in Ufa
The results of the SCO and BRICS summits that ended last week suggest that both organizations play a very important role in the politics of the region.
Expansion of the SCO as the first step towards increasing the influence of the organization
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, established in 2001, can hardly be considered the key political association of Eurasia. However, the decisions taken at the summit quite clearly indicate that the SCO will have to be considered in a short time.
First of all, the reason for such changes was the fact that for the first time since the foundation of the organization, the number of participating countries was expanded: India and Pakistan, which previously were observer states, will officially join them. The SCO has already managed to influence the geopolitical map of the region, smoothing the friction between the new members of the organization that began to flare up. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, and as a result of their communication, an agreement was reached that Modi would visit Pakistan in 2016 to attend the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Of course, it is very premature to talk about resolving the long-standing conflict, but neighbors in South Asia have received a convenient platform for negotiations and serious partners who can contribute to these negotiations. It should be noted that another pair of traditional rivals - Armenia and Azerbaijan - received the status of "dialogue partners" and will also be able to use the mediation of the SCO states in the course of negotiations on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition to the two states of Transcaucasia, this status was granted to Cambodia and Nepal, thereby further expanding the geography and sphere of influence of the organization.
The expansion of the SCO is an important factor also from the point of view that the organization becomes the most powerful geopolitical factor in terms of the size of the territory, the population and the total resources. And this is not to mention the possible inclusion in the coming years of Iran, which, in addition to the status of the observer country, has a huge resource potential. Against the background of discrediting the European Union because of the Greek crisis, the idea of such supranational education may seem irrelevant and outdated, but the SCO countries have several trump cards. This wealth of resources, primarily energy, the lack of a single currency, which makes them less vulnerable to economic shocks, and, finally, it is much easier to negotiate when key decisions are made by representatives of eight states and not twenty-eight of the EU. The ties between the SCO states are still much less close than those between the countries of the European Union, and this can also be considered an advantage, especially remembering the problems that Greece is now creating for its partners.
India's accession to the organization can provide another extremely important opportunity - to turn it into a key partner of the United States for regional dialogue. The rapprochement between India and America will certainly continue, and India will undoubtedly become one of the most important members of the SCO. All this will, quite possibly, ease the tension, the root of which lies in China's rather aggressive foreign policy, which at the moment is quite a big problem. If it can be solved within the framework of the SCO, it will be a serious victory for the organization, which will significantly strengthen its status.
As for the significance of this expansion for Russia, then it cannot be called unambiguous. Entering into the organization at least one more member who along with China and Russia will claim leadership in the face of India can hardly be considered a problem. However, the growth of the territories and the capacity of the organization makes the recently created EAEU look rather pale. Economic integration in the direction of the SCO looks more promising from a financial point of view, but in the EAEU Russia will play the role of an unconditional leader, even if the union itself is less influential. However, what in this case prevents sitting on two chairs?
Also at the summit, decisions were taken relating to global security: in the declaration, the participating countries stressed the need to combat the terrorist threat, spoke in favor of resolving the conflict as soon as possible in Ukraine, and also against expanding the missile defense system, which directly affects Russia's interests.
With regard to economic integration, an important step was taken - the SCO countries expressed support for China's ambitious infrastructure project Silk Road. Its ultimate goal is to connect Asian markets with European ones. Undoubtedly, China's influence in the organization in case of successful implementation of this idea will increase, but Russia and India will not allow China to dominate within the SCO framework.
A less significant result of the meetings, nevertheless, quite important for the Russian economy is the fact that a principled agreement was reached on the lease by India of the newest submarine, which will be built specifically for this purpose-perhaps the Ash submarine of the Yasen project. This means that Russia still has an impact on the arms market in India, at least in the field of naval weapons.
In general, in the conditions of the existence of a multipolar world, after the recent changes in its composition, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization can become a major player, with which all the major world powers will have to reckon. It is quite possible to allow a drift in the organization's policy - from education, created for the purpose of economic integration, to a political union of the largest states of the Eurasian region, able to solve geopolitical problems and effectively conduct a dialogue with their own kind. The accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO can only be the first step on this path.
BRICS: the future is brick by brick
BRICS, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, respectively, has long established itself as an effective option for cooperation between major powers outside the spheres of influence of the West. In this respect, for Russia, which is under the influence of sanctions, the chairmanship of the BRICS and the successful holding of the summit were very important factors, enabling them to grope for the support of their colleagues in the organization.
Against the background of the SCO summit, the decisions of the BRICS summit were not of comparable importance for the future of the organization. First, as well as in the SCO declaration adopted a day later, it was pointed out that it is necessary to strengthen the role of the UN, which the member countries of both organizations consider insufficiently influential at the moment and too often fulfilling the requirements of the United States. The BRICS countries "reaffirmed their deep commitment to the UN as a universal multilateral organization."
Against the backdrop of this statement, statements regarding international security, namely the situation in Libya and Ukraine, seem logical, and, like the declaration of the SCO summit, on combating world terrorism. Unlike the second document adopted in Ufa, in the declaration of the BRICS the threat is clearly called - this is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in the struggle against which many other countries of the world are concentrated now.
Also, the participating countries determined the immediate future of the organization - an action plan was adopted for the organization for the next year, regulating its work, and India was approved as a host in 2016. More significant was the adoption of the Economic Partnership Strategy prior to 2020. The main objective of the document is to determine the provisions for effective and competitive socio-economic development of the BRICS countries. Naturally, it also deals with integration in such areas as agriculture, energy and high technology.
However, the agreements on economic integration did not stop there. Documents regulating cooperation in the banking and cultural spheres were adopted. It was also decided to create a virtual secretariat. If this institution is really launched and will function successfully, it will be possible to talk about an interesting precedent for the transfer of international relations online, even partially.
The general results of the BRICS summit in this way can be called intermediate rather than intermediate: no key decisions were made, and the organization prepared to continue its integration systematically.
Foreign media: a range of opinions
The events that took place in Ufa were also discussed on the pages of the world press. Thus, the Indian edition of The Hindu writes: "The entry of India into the SCO as a full member is a very significant event. For starters, it opens trade and transport routes between Russia and China, passing through Central Asia, which were previously closed to India. Iran's observer status provides a guarantee that the SCO will be a platform for discussing trade with India through the ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar, as well as their possible link to Russia's proposed North-South Transport Corridor. This allows us to resolve the situation in which India suffers from a lack of markets because of the conflict with Pakistan. Headed by Russia and China, the SCO can even serve as a guarantor of the implementation of such pipeline projects as TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) and IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India), which are currently being mothballed for security reasons. "
The British Financial Times notes that “the expansion of the SCO is a great diplomatic achievement of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was the host of the Ufa summit, which enabled him to demonstrate that Western sanctions did not lead to the international isolation of Moscow.
It also creates a forum for negotiations on security and economic integration in a vast geographical area, where neither the United States nor the EU have significant influence, but where at the same time there are several states of global strategic importance.
This development comes at the very moment when Moscow is trying to create a new international security order. Mr Putin stressed that the principles laid down in the Helsinki Declaration, an agreement of the Cold War era, signed in order to strengthen security and prevent conflicts in Europe, are ignored during the process of NATO expansion and the growth of US hegemony. Some representatives of the Russian government flirted with the idea of a new Eurasian security system, and they believe that the SCO can play an important role in this. ”
Сhinadaily.cn voiced a statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi:
"China brings to BRICS and the SCO new opportunities for future development. Both organizations are important as multilateral structures, which include developing economies, and are key platforms for interaction for the emerging powers. " He also stressed the constructive role of China and its mutual trust in relation to partners on both organizations.
He specifically mentioned that the role, status, and influence of BRICS in international politics has grown significantly since the organization was founded in 2009. Wang also noted that the participating countries still face various negative factors, such as a pessimistic attitude towards their economic prospects in other countries and doubts about the effectiveness of their interaction. Against the background of such challenges, the summit in Russia signals a still strong impetus to cooperation and positive trends in its development. ”