SCO summit: is the group coming into its own?

As part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) virtual summit held on Tuesday, Iran has become the ninth member of this group of states dominated by China and Russia. Belarus also signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect. Commentators from Italy and Russia assess the organisation’s potential.

Iswestija (RU) /

The avant-garde on multipolarity

Izvestia sees something entirely new emerging:

“The SCO states are not striving for increased interdependence. They are cautiously, almost tentatively, taking decisions which are equally beneficial for all but which cannot be used by one state to coerce other states economically. ... Over the last few centuries global politicians have learned their lesson about what unipolarity and bipolarity are. We know their strengths and weaknesses. But we know almost nothing about multipolarity. Theorists believe it is marked by anarchy and endless conflicts between states, because it lacks a centre of power and decision-making. With their efforts to expand cooperation, the SCO countries are challenging this belief.”

Stanislav Tkachenko
Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Possibility of an Asian military alliance

The SCO should not be underestimated, warns Corriere della Sera:

“The summit meeting chaired by Indian Prime Minister Modi was attended by Kazakh President Tokayev, Kyrgyz leader Japarov, China’s Xi, Tajik President Rahmon, Uzbekistan’s Mirziyoyev and Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif. ... Among the observers were Belarus’ Lukashenka, Iran’s President Raisi and Mongolian leader Khurelsukh. ... It is this almost exclusively Asian part of the world that Putin is counting on to upset the bipolar order. ... Including upgrading the SCO to the potential core of a new military alliance.”

Marco Imarisio
Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Marked by internal conflicts

Radio Kommersant FM is sceptical:

“The future of this community seems unclear. At the moment, everyone’s interests diverge. Of course the member states can continue to meet formally to exchange vague statements about successful cooperation. But to what end? To annoy America and the West? Perhaps. But it seems unlikely that the SCO will become the alternative to the G7, the G20 or other similar groups. China, for example, has effectively taken the former [Soviet] brother states in Central Asia under its wing. At the same time, India, the country currently chairing the SCO, is seriously at cross purposes with Beijing, not to mention Pakistan.”

Dmitrij Drise