Iran becomes full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

The Cradle, July 4, 2023 —

After welcoming Iran to the Eurasian bloc, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged member states to transition to local currencies for trade.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) officially welcomed Iran as a full member on 4 July during the 23rd virtual summit of the bloc.

“I am happy that today Iran is going to join the SCO family as a new member. For this, I convey my best wishes to President Ebrahim Raisi and the people of Iran,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during the ceremony.

“New countries joining underlines the importance of the alliance,” Modi added.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called the SCO “a symbol of this ‘great family of civilizations’ … that can establish new horizons of regional convergence and security-building cooperation.”

He stressed that economic cooperation among member states could “open a clear vision of a just regional order” to the world. He condemned the “western domination system” based on militarism and the dominance of the US dollar.

“Any attempt to shape a fair international system requires the removal of this instrument of dominance in intra-regional relations,” Raisi added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also joined the virtual meeting alongside the leaders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Xi called for strengthening exchanges and mutual learning among SCO members, stressing the need to safeguard regional peace and ensure common security. He also urged his partners to “focus on pragmatic cooperation to speed up economic recovery” and to enhance solidarity and mutual trust.

For his part, Putin reassured the participants of “Russia’s stability and unity” in the wake of the short-lived coup attempt launched by Wagner troops last month.

The Russian leader later welcomed the transition to local currencies for trade settlement among SCO member states and assured them that Russia would stand up against western pressure, sanctions, and “provocations” imposed over the war in Ukraine.

The SCO is a Eurasian cooperation bloc created in 2001 by Russia, China, and several former Soviet states in Central Asia. Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia are observer countries, while the organization has six dialogue partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkiye.

Iran originally requested to join the alliance 15 years ago.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia approved a decision to join the SCO as a “dialogue partner,” a first step within the organization before being granted full membership in the mid-term.

Syria has also announced plans to join the Eurasian bloc.

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