Ulugbek Khasanov, professor at Uzbekistan’s University of World Economy and Diplomacy, concedes that the SCO is a complex circle of nations disagreeing with each other on many critical issues. “But they gathered in ancient Samarkand with an agenda to strengthen security, trade and innovative cooperation.”
Khasanov calls the SCO mission diverse and ever evolving, viewing its focus on climate change, food and energy security, and regional security as a positive sign of collaboration.
Kazakh and Kyrgyz analysts shared similar insights with VOA but argued that members will need more tangible steps to improve the group’s potential.
These Central Asian scholars echo their governments’ desire to avoid letting the SCO become a proxy for China and Russia. The SCO must be “a just and equal platform” for all members, Hasanov, once a top communications officer in Tashkent, agrees.
“Central Asia is at the heart of this organization,” says Khasanov, “and if you want to work with the region, you must listen to Uzbekistan’s ideas and proposals,” not least its position on Afghanistan.” In other words, to act locally in Central Asia, he maintains, China, Russia, and others need to reflect Central Asian priorities and agendas.