A Russian expert on international politics and foreign policy said NATO-member Turkey cannot be granted membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as the main purpose of the SCO is to establish an alternative security bloc to NATO.
Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the journal “Russia in Global Affairs” and honorary chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, presented a report titled “The New World Order: New Rules or No Rules” at an event organized by the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow on Wednesday.
Speaking to the İstanbul-based Cihan news agency after the event, Lukyanov said the admission of Turkey to the SCO is impossible as it would contradict the founding concept of the organization as an alternative to NATO.
Frustrated by stalled negotiations with the EU, Turkey's slim hopes for EU membership steadily grew into exasperation with Brussels, pushing Ankara to look elsewhere. Turkey's senior political leaders, such as then-prime minister and incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, raised SCO membership as an alternative, expressing Ankara's eagerness to get a spot in the SCO if attempts for EU membership fail.
Ankara's emerging desire for SCO membership, however, got the cold shoulder from key members of the organization, and Russia especially seems reluctant to allow Turkey in the club. Lukyanov pointed out Russia and Turkey's divergent approaches to foreign policy regarding key issues such as the crisis in eastern Ukraine and the protracted war in Syria, reflecting how Ankara and Moscow see things from different angles.
In remarks to Cihan, Lukyanov said Moscow was uneasy about Turkey's participation in NATO's Black Sea naval drills but that it has refrained from criticizing Ankara publicly. He said clashes of interests and differences in policy on Syria and Ukraine do not inflict lasting damage to bilateral relations, as diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries continue to grow stronger over time.
The SCO is a mutual security organization that was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. These countries, with the exception of Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996. After the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001 the members renamed the organization. Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observer members in the SCO, while Sri Lanka and Belarus are dialogue partners. Turkey obtained an observer status in 2013.