عنوان مقاله [English]
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in 1996 at the initiative of China to solve border problems of five neighboring countries. Nearly a quarter century after its creation, it has become a major regional organization expanding most of Eurasia. With 20 percent of the world’s oil and 50 percent of the world’s gas reserves, it has the potential to become one of the world’s largest international economic and energy hubs in the coming decades, managing and controlling much of the world’s energy. Extensive geographical Territory, large population, vast energy resources, possessions of nuclear weapons, strong armed forces, veto power of two of its member countries in the United Nations Security Council, and other factors, give the organization this great economic, political, and military potentials. SCO has the largest gas producing and the largest energy consumers countries among its members. After a brief review of developments in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, this paper examines the organization’s capabilities in terms of economic and energy security and shows how this limited regional agreement has become a huge regional cooperation organization. In this article, we also review the energy routes in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s vast geography. We look at the various regional, ethnic, and political conflicts that have a negative effect on the Organizations internal dynamic. We especially examine the policies of its two giant partners, namely, China and the Russian Federation.
We also review the evolution of the organization’s goals and priorities, ranging from resolving border disputes between China and Russia to economic cooperation and securing energy lines. This paper suggests that despite its great potentials, this organization will not be able to materialize this potential. This study shows that after nearly a quarter of a century, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has not been able to materialize its huge potential. The reasons may be found in two important political and economic factors. A prerequisite for economic success of such associations or unions is complementary economies, where each country contributes to the union what other member countries lack. In today’s globalized world, however, countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization look elsewhere for cooperation. China’s economy, for example, is more tied to the huge US market than to its allies in SCO. Russia’s huge energy resources, in turn, are aimed more at the European market, rather than at China’s.
Politically, unlike EU member states that have a liberal democratic system and a common ideology, members of the Shanghai Organization have different worldviews and different governmental and ideological systems. Political instability in some of SCO countries has been an additional obstacle to realization of the mentioned potential. Regional conflicts, frozen and active, such as those in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and the Sinkiang region further inhibit free and safe multilateral economic cooperation.
The initial goals and priorities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have evolved during the past quarter of century because of economic, political, and security dynamics of this vast region in a globalized world. The huge potential envisioned by many of policymakers in the organization has not materialized.