Turkey seeks observer member status in SCO

Turkey seeks observer member status in SCO

Turkey seeks observer member status in SCO

Premiers of the member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and officials from observer states pose for a family photo in this 2012 photo. AFP photo

Turkey will likely upgrade its status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to “observer state,” the Foreign Ministry has said. 

“With regard to our work with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of course we want to be an observer state that is a secondary category [for cooperation within the organization]. We want to enhance our cooperation with this organization within possible bounds,” Selçuk Ünal, Ministry spokesperson said yesterday at a press conference. Currently, Turkey is listed as a “dialogue partner” within the group. 

Joining every international organization, becoming an observer state or following their activities is the fundamental basis of Turkey’s “multilateral diplomacy,” Ünal said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raised the issue of a possible membership with the SCO on Jan. 25. The prime minister said he considered the organization to be an alternative to the European Union at a time when hopes for the EU membership process are diminishing with regards to the adamant opposition to Turkey’s membership by a number of EU member states. “I said to Russian President Vladimir Putin: ‘You tease us, saying, ‘what [is Turkey] doing in the EU?’ Now I tease you: include us in the Shanghai Five and we will forget about the EU,’” he said.

Changing of regime 
Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who recently returned from a one-week visit to SCO member country China, criticized the government for undemocratic actions. According to Kılıçdaroğlu, Turkey is being dragged into a monolithic regime that is similar to the regimes of some SCO members.

“The prime minister’s proposal, saying ‘let’s become a member of the Shanghai Five and leave the EU,’ is open evidence showing what kind of a model, standard and future is being designed for Turkey,” he said. However, Kılıçdaroğlu has supported the government’s bid about Shanghai Five during his Beijing visit, saying that it’s important for peace and stability in the regional and global sense.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also said on Jan. 28 that Turkey’s possible membership in the Shanghai Cooperation would be interesting, given the fact that Turkey’s also a NATO member.