The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be an economic powerhouse and a major global force throughout this century, a Canadian scholar noted on Thursday.
Michael Berk, who is with the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, expressed the views in an article posted at the globeandmail.com.
"Any entity whose purpose, like the SCO, is promoting stability, cooperation and economic development in a region consisting of such pivotal countries as India and China, as well as such resource-rich states as Russia and Kazakhstan, will be a powerhouse of economic activity and a major global force throughout this century," Berk wrote.
The SCO groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and has four observers -- Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran and India.
Since 2001, member states have negotiated and signed agreements of cooperation in areas including education and culture, trade and infrastructure development, energy, technology, joint military exercises and combating terrorism, cross-border drugs and arms trafficking
"The strength and speed with which these common goals are being pursued vary -- but the extent to which a common direction is discernible in this group of sovereign states shows the SCO is making progress in building regional consensus," Berk pointed out.
"The SCO is important. The Central Asian region is important," he said. "Indeed, given that the Central Asian region may well be the most important economic region in the second half of this century, it is imperative Canadians make the effort to know more about the region, the tensions and the consensus-mechanisms."
"Central Asia will be a powerhouse in the coming decades and our future, as a trading nation, will be closely aligned with this less-known region. The time to act, the time to acquaint ourselves with the new global realities is now," Berk concluded.
(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2006)