MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev.) - This week's Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in the new Kazakh capital, Astana, sent a number of strong and clear signals to the world.
Most striking was the section of the six leaders' final declaration about the military bases of "the international counter-terrorist coalition" (read: the U.S. and NATO) in Central Asia.
"In view of the completion of the active phase of the counter-terrorist operation in Afghanistan," the SCO members - China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - "deem it necessary" for the U.S. and NATO "to set a deadline on the temporary use of the aforementioned infrastructure facilities and the deployment of their troops in SCO member states," the statement says.
The meaning of these polite phrases is glaringly obvious: The six SCO states think it is possible and necessary to take on greater responsibility for dealing with threats to their stability. These threats include increasing drugs traffic from Afghanistan and a rise in religious extremism in the region, both of which disrupt political stability in Central Asia.
The annual SCO summits traditionally spotlight military-political issues, while the prime ministers tackle economic matters. A cursory glance at some of the seven documents adopted in Astana shows that this time the six leaders have approached the problem in earnest. Besides, they have purely military backing from a sister structure, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which has recently discussed threats to Central Asia.
The SCO members tackled security policy not only because of political instability and extremist violence in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, but also because they are seriously dissatisfied with the regional policy of structures collectively called "the West."
Why does NATO, given maximum support and cooperation in the region, including by Russia, not want to deal with the CSTO, as CSTO head Nikolai Bordyuzha complained in Moscow?
Why does the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) refuse to take note of the SCO and its offers of cooperation, regardless of the arguments of its members?
Why does U.S. Congress view the growing influence of Russia in the post-Soviet states as a threat, even suggesting a special conference on the problem?
Why does the collective "West" notice only the shooting of innocent civilians in Andijan, while the Central Asian states also see extremist violence and a threat to their stability and economic progress behind them?
This desire to fight for influence, to provoke a split rather than to join efforts, is an obvious mistake on the part of the "West." It has encouraged the political class of Central Asia to ponder the need to rely on itself and its neighbors who seem to understand the region's requirements better.
One more signal from Astana was the expansion of the SCO by granting observer status to major regional players India, Iran and Pakistan.
Many forums and organizations composed of roughly the same members have been created (and some of them still exist) in Central Asia since the 1990s. But the SCO has turned out to be the most effective of them.
Its political attraction is exemplified by the final summit documents. The provisions of the final declaration talk of the diversity of global cultures and civilizations, which "should stimulate mutual interest and tolerance, preclude extreme attitudes and assessments, and promote dialogue." The motto of the summit could be the phrase about "the right of each nation to choose its own way of development."
These provisions could encourage a genuine color revolution, and not only in Central Asia. But such principles are set out in many other international documents, including those of the UN, signed by the overwhelming majority of the nearly 200 countries of the planet. Does it take the presence of such giants as China and Russia for these documents to become the guide to action?
It is true that primarily the educated political class of Central Asian states will read these documents, but the summit speakers called for their views to reach everyone. Finally, economic progress should be the gauge of the SCO's success, which we should be able to see at the Moscow summit this autumn.