SCO Accession Complex, Lengthy Process

SCO Accession Complex, Lengthy Process

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi termed as “complicated and slow” the process of Iran’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as the body takes up the issue at its Astana meeting starting today.   
Iran has observer status in the security bloc since 2005, along with Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia, and has been declaring its willingness to become a full member for years.
“Most member states have welcomed Iran joining the bloc, but the completion of the membership process would take time and depends on consensus among all members”, Qasemi told Fars News Agency on Wednesday.
A delegation of high-ranking Iranian diplomats is to partake in the two-day SCO meeting, in which the bloc is to formally grant membership status to India and Pakistan, the two other observer states whose inclusion request was accepted in 2015.
It is the first expansion in sixteen years after its 2001 creation by China, Russia and four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
It was China that announced Iran’s membership would be discussed in the SCO meeting this week.

 Proactive Partner   
“China highly appraises this. China welcomes and supports Iran’s wish to become a formal member of the SCO,” Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Huilai was quoted by Reuters as saying on Monday.
Li said Iran has for a long time “proactively participated” in its activities and has made positive contributions to the SCO’s development.
“I think that at this meeting all sides will continue to conscientiously study the issue of Iran becoming a member on the basis of the SCO’s relevant rules and consensus through consultations.”
The remarks signaled a change in Beijing’s tune, which was previously seen reluctant to put Iran’s accession bid on the agenda, despite calls from Moscow that the lifting of  sanctions on Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal could open the door.
China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran, and was also instrumental in pushing through a landmark 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov reiterated his country’s support for Iran’s SCO membership this week, saying it will have a positive impact on cooperation between the member states of the regional alliance.
“Russia is convinced that the first wave of our organization’s expansion should also include Iran, considering its long-term and fruitful participation in the SCO work as an observer state and also the lack of legal obstacles for launching its membership procedure,” Morgulov told Xinhua news agency.
“It is evident … that Iran’s joining would have a positive impact on SCO cooperation in all dimensions —in the spheres of security, economy, as well as in the humanitarian domain,” he said.


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