Turkey is looking at joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), but according to the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, this is not as an alternative to gaining full membership to the EU. Turkey is still pursuing negotiations to join the EU, and is looking to successfully conclude accession talks.
The question of Turkey joining the SCO was raised in late January when the prospect was brought up by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He thought Turkey should seriously look at joining the organisation as Turkey’s chances of joining the EU were looking uncertain.
The SCO was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by Russian, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Kyrgyzstani, Tajikistani and Uzbekistani leaders. Erdogan feels the SCO is more powerful than the EU, especially as India and Pakistan want to join, but does regard the two organisations as being completely separate and doesn’t see any reason as to why EU countries should not maintain commercial relations with countries within the SCO.
Since Turkey began its bid for EU membership, it has successfully made quite a few democratic changes to its bureaucratic and legal structure, and many Turkish residents regard the EU as providing a useful reference point for future reforms.
Erdogan is due to visit Brussels shortly and is thinking of raising the issue of membership with officials. He has pointed out that the country has been keen to join the EU since 1963 when it originally signed a partnership agreement with the European Economic Community. Accession talks were opened in 2005, but progress has been frustratingly slow. Turkey is already a dialogue partner of the SCO as it was accepted last June at the annual summit in Beijing.