NATO has come up with numerous successful initiatives that contributed to strengthening international stability and mutual trust between different geopolitical groups. Considering all these initiatives makes it possible to say that in international organizations, NA TO never plays a secondary part in the dialog and cooperation with countries that are outside its geographic borders. This makes one wonder why Asia has been left out of these external initiatives.
NA TO has come up with numerous successful initiatives that contributed to strengthening international stability and mutual trust between different geopolitical groups. Considering all these initiatives makes it possible to say that in international organizations, NA TO never plays a secondary part in the dialog and cooperation with countries that are outside its geographic borders. This makes one wonder why Asia has been left out of these external initiatives.
Meanwhile, Asia plays an extremely important role. It is the only continent where the direct and indirect consequences of the second world conflict are still felt today (you can recall the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Indian-Pakistani conflict and the North Korean problem). Besides, it is the only continent where countries have challenged global security (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea). There is piracy on this continent and mass destruction arms are being distributed here. It also has some of the world’s biggest energy sources (Central Asia and the Persian Gulf).
Although some areas of this continent are embraced by NA TO’s initiatives to some degree, the most important countries in Asia (India and China) are left out. In other words, the most interesting and potentially meaningful dialog is yet to be developed, for example, with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This direction seems highly promising.
It is important to emphasize that the organization is very active and dynamic. Its members include two permanent Security Council members – Russia and China – and two nuclear powers, while another two (India and Pakistan) have the status of an observer. Iran, with its nuclear program under way, can also be included in the list. The SCO’s orbit embraces two countries with the world’s biggest population (China and India), and they are also two of the fastest developing nations in the world. Three out of four BRIC countries (Russia, India and China) are the SCO members. The aggregate area of the SCO states is 38 million sq km. Their aggregate population is over 3 billion people, i.e. 60% of the world’s population. All this shows that such an organization should not be underestimated.
A reason for a potential and desirable dialog between NA TO and the SCO, apart from the fact that dialog is positive and productive by definition, is the fact that the SCO has de facto managed to become one of the most promising regional organizations. It is impossible to say that NA TO and the SCO have little in common, because the membership of Russia and Central Asian states in the EAPS (the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council) testifies otherwise. With this respect, the points of view of the two organizations overlap territorially.
A dialog between the two cannot bring any damage, while it could yield certain benefits. It would be in line with the spirit and letter of Chapter 8 of the UN Charter, which encourages creation of regional and subregional organizations that can interact with each other and support each other for the purpose of common security. Mutual learning of the East and West, sincerity and trust in relations could be the result of this dialog. Another short- and medium-term result could be exchange of information on common threats, local and global, posed by terrorism and extremism, in order to improve Eurasian security. The long-term positive result of the dialog could be seen in a potential solution of the old problem of reforming the UN Security Council, which has to do with regional organizations and not with national governments.
Without going into much detail, let us say that there is a clear trend in geopolitics with the role of national governments slowly declining, while the importance of international organizations is growing. Indeed, a national government is trying to survive under the pressure of globalization, but it cannot avoid giving up more and more chunks of its sovereignty to international organizations. The proofs of this statement are common markets, free exchange zones, the single currency, the supremacy of the alliance legislation over national, multinational military forces, etc. This inescapable trend may bring about the day when international organizations will replace national governments in the Security Council, and this day may not be that far away.
Yet another advantage could be the development of a useful dialog on reducing traditional and nuclear arms in Asia in order to promote security and stability, these inalienable common values. It is true that the SCO does not deal with these problems seriously, but the advantage of a dialog in general and between NA TO and the SCO in particular cannot be underestimated.
Finally, the last, but not the least, advantage of the NA TO-SCO dialog could be an adequate resolution of the Afghanistan issue and an efficient strategy of getting out of this crisis. Russia and China are not the only SCO members deeply interested in ensuring stability around Afghanistan.
The latest meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has already sent a positive signal, with its member states declaring their willingness to cooperate with NA TO on special projects related to the security of their borders with Afghanistan. It is a very promising message that should be taken up, because profound and structured cooperation between the alliance and the SCO is something we need already today.