The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is standing on a solid footing as an international organization through five years of joint efforts, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said on Wednesday.
Five years are not a long period on the historical scale, but reviewing the work during this period one can say with confidence that the SCO has become a mature international organization, Alexeyev said in an interview with the Noviye Izvestia daily.
The regional body, established in the Chinese business hub of Shanghai in 2001 and named after the city, groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In 2004 and 2005, the SCO accepted Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran as observers.
Alexeyev denied allegations that the SCO could be turned into a military-political bloc. "The SCO is a versatile organization and the development of cooperation between its defense ministries is no more than one aspect of its activity," he said.
Alexeyev also said the SCO does not view enlargement as a goal in itself and the member states believe this issue should be treated in the most balanced and responsible way possible.
"At present, there is no question of an immediate enlargement of the number of the SCO members or observers," he said.
The 2006 SCO summit will be held in Shanghai Thursday.
(Xinhua News Agency June 15, 2006)