Country will become the tenth full member of the SCO, according to Zhang Ming FILE PHOTO: SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming holds a press conference after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Foreign Ministers meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan on May 21, 2024. © Getty Images / Anadolu / Contributor

Belarus is on course to enter the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) next month, becoming the tenth full member, the SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming has said.

He made the statement while addressing the 19th meeting of the SCO experts forum, which opened in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Wednesday. The expansion will be a “historic breakthrough,” the Secretary General stressed.

The SCO, which accounts for some 20% of global GDP, was founded in 2001 by China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran became the newest member of the organization last year, after India and Pakistan joined in 2017.

Currently, 14 countries, with Egypt being the only African state, hold SCO dialogue-partner status, allowing them to participate in the organization’s specialized events at the invitation of its members.

“At the upcoming SCO summit in Astana [Kazakhstan] next month, a decision will be made on Belarus’ accession to the SCO, thus the number of SCO member states will reach a historic double-digit breakthrough,” Zhang Ming said.

The Secretary General emphasized that, over more than 20 years of its development, the SCO has transformed from a regional mechanism for meetings of heads of state into a major, comprehensive international organization.

African state applies to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization African state applies to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization

“The SCO pays attention not only to “high-level” tasks, such as politics, diplomacy, peace, development, security, but also to topics “close to the people,” such as tourism, sports, waste disposal,” the senior official also pointed out.

The Shanghai Cooperation Summit will be held in the Kazakh capital during the first week of July, according to the country’s presidential press service. The leaders of the SCO member states will consider a wide range of topical issues relating to political, trade, economic and cultural and humanitarian interaction. Heads of dialogue partners and observer states, which include Mongolia and Afghanistan, are expected to attend the event.

In May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters that Algeria has applied to become a dialogue partner of the SCO. According to Lavrov, the North African nation, as well as the Asian state of Laos, which has also submitted an application, will be eligible for SCO membership once they have passed the dialogue-partner and observer status. (RT)