The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held a summit in Dushanbe today. Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev faced a difficult task at the meeting — discussing his country's stance on South Ossetia with SCO member states and seeking their support. It seems he may have accomplished his goal. A clause on South Ossetia was included in the summit's final joint declaration signed by the member states.
In the intial stages of the summit, negotiations were held between Russia, Kazakhstan, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. They arrived at the Somon Palace from early morning. Later they were joined by delegations from observer states Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan. The summit's official guest — the president of Afghanistan — and representatives of international organizations were also present.
Speaking to members of the summit, Medvedev said the SCO should work to strengthen regional security and stability. He added that these problems must be solved observing international law.
"Unfortunately, we have to state that attempts are being made to secure certain interests using force and not the principles of strict observance of international law and refuting a confrontational bloc mentality," said Medvedev. "An example of such irresponsible criminal actions is Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia. It is well-known who connived with the Georgian authorities and even incited them, pursuing their own profit. Such behavior is unacceptable and should be stopped." The president thanked the member states for their understanding and objective evaluation of Russia's peacekeeping efforts.
"I am sure the united position of the SCO member states will have international resonance and serve as a serious signal to whoever tries to turn white into black and justify aggression," added Medvedev.
The member states refrained from discussing their positions on Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence during the discussions. However, sharp criticism sounded in NATO's address. Iranian President Makhmud Akhmadinezhad condemned the U.S. for its policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although the member states were careful not to discuss their positions on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the issue was reflected in the summit's final joint declaration. The document stressed that the conflict must be resolved peacefully following the six principles for regulating the situation established by Medvedev and French President Sarkozy.
"The SCO states express grave concern in connection with the recent tensions around the South Ossetia issue and urge the sides to solve existing problems peacefully, through dialogue, and to make efforts facilitating reconciliation and talks," the summit's final joint declaration said.
In such a way, Medvedev seems to have achieved his goal. Although the members states did not make any earth-shattering statements about the South Ossetian conflict at the meeting, they ended up showing support for Russia.
"We are aware that U.S. emissaries visited the capitals of SCO member states the evening before the summit and told them what position they should voice on the issue," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The SCO member states signed agreements on combating terrorism and illegal narcotics and arms trafficking. They also decided to form a working group to discuss the possibility of accepting new members into the organization. Iran has shown an interest in joining the SCO for several years.
The next SCO summit will be held in early June in Yekaterinburg. Russia will chair the organization this year starting today.