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SCO: NAVIGATING BETWEEN REGIONAL INTEGRATION AND DIVERGING NATIONAL INTERESTS IN EURASIA

von David Merkle

Contribution to the series "The World HandCOV'd"

While the overall tone in official statements has stressed commitment by the governments for the multilateral approach to regional order, contradictory signals have been sent out due to competing regional and geopolitical interests of the member states. The Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Belt and Road Initiative both seek to strengthen each side’s sphere of influence in the region.

Key takeaways

• Growing great power rivalry and competing concepts for regional order will enforce attempts by China and Russia to bring SCO member states on their side. Yet, given the diversity inside the SCO, existing conflicts and the self-proclaimed idea of not intervening in domestic affairs, the SCO will not serve an institutional framework to overcome fundamental differences among the member states.

• Instead, the SCO will remain a forum focusing on joint efforts in tackling non-traditional security issues.

• As a lesson learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, establishing stronger coordination mechanisms in disease prevention is likely to become a priority.

You can download the entire report as a pdf.