ISTANBUL : The second day of the 22nd Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of State Summit began on Friday in the historic city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, with discussions expected to focus on regional security challenges, trade, and energy supply, among other issues.
The heads of member states will address the inaugural session of the concluding day of the Council of Heads of State summit. While SCO dialogue partners’ leaders are due to address the summit at the second session.
The summit brings together world leaders for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi, Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev, presidents of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia, and the prime ministers of Pakistan and India.
Türkiye is participating at the presidential level for the first time after Ankara was granted SCO dialogue partner status in 2012.
Aside from Azerbaijan, the grouping’s dialogue partners include Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Armenia.
The participating leaders’ schedules were crammed with bilateral and multilateral meetings on the sidelines of the ongoing summit. However, the focus of this year’s two-day SCO summit was on a sideline meeting between Xi and Putin, who met for the first time since Beijing Olympics held early this year in February.
Social media users were captivated by images of the visiting leaders exploring Samarkand’s newly constructed areas.
The eight-member organization, founded on June 15, 2001, aims to strengthen friendly, good neighborly relations and mutual trust among member states.
Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Samarkand, the regional grouping would accept Iran as its next permanent member early next year.
The Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance was founded by China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in 2001 and is recognized as the world’s largest regional organization, with eight members and four observer states. Pakistan and India became full members in 2017.
Iran acquired observer status in the organization in June 2005. Its permanent membership in the powerful organization was approved in September last year during the summit in Tajikistan after a wait of almost 15 years.— AA