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Turkey's status in SCO may be upgraded: analysts

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-12-06 13:45

Turkey's status in SCO may be upgraded: analysts

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, November 8, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Troubled by strained relations with its Western allies, Turkey is renewing efforts to knit closer ties with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an attempt which may well bear fruit this time, analysts believe.

"The chances for Turkey to be upgraded to the observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization seem to be stronger now than they were several months ago," observed Yasar Yakis, a former Turkish foreign minister.

Turkey has been a dialogue partner to the organization since June 2012.

The debate on the SCO flared up lately in Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again expressed the country's aspiration to further ties with the SCO, saying "Why shouldn't Turkey be in the Shanghai Five?"

He argued on his way back from Uzbekistan two weeks ago that the European Union had never wished Turkey well, adding that Turkey could act comfortably if it were a SCO member.

The SCO's founding countries -- China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- were referred to as the Shanghai Five until Uzbekistan joined the club in 2001.

"Turkey may get observer status. In fact, full membership is not out of the question," remarked Alev Kilic, director of the Ankara-based Center for Eurasian Studies (AVIM).

Back in 2013, Turkey failed in its attempt to convince SCO members to upgrade its status to an observer, reportedly due to a member nation's opposition.

In contrast, the group was quick this time in responding positively to the Turkish president's remarks.

Turkey has been selected to chair the organization's Energy Club in 2017, becoming the first non-SCO country to hold the term presidency, the Turkish Ministry of Energy noted last week.

Turkey is deeply frustrated by its Western allies, in particular the EU and the United States, which it accuses of harboring criminals and providing weapons to the Kurdistan Workers' Party outlawed by Ankara.

Turkey has also recently blasted the EU for unfair treatment in its membership talks as well as the European Parliament's vote in favor of freezing the talks.

Erdogan's talk of the SCO came after the Turkish government had been widely criticized, following a failed coup in July, by the EU for mass detentions, purge of tens of thousands of public servants, and crackdown on freedom of expression and the press.

A day after Erdogan's remarks appeared in the Turkish press, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated that China "attaches importance to Turkey's aspiration to further deepen its cooperation with the SCO."

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