By Dilara Zengin
Turkey will chair the 2017 presidency of the Energy Club of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), making it the first non-member country to do so, Turkish Energy Ministry announced Wednesday.
Turkey's nomination to the chair comes after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted recently that his country would consider joining the non-Western body if the EU did not decide on its accession process soon.
Turkey had proposed that all SCO partner countries should take turns in presiding the Energy Club for a year. The proposal was then accepted and Turkey was unanimously elected to chair the Energy Club in 2017.
Speaking to journalists at the end of his recent official tour to Pakistan and Uzbekistan, Erdogan on Sunday said Turkey was beginning to think about other blocs instead of the EU, especially the SCO.
“Why Turkey shouldn’t be in the Shanghai Five? I said this to [Russian President] Putin, to [Kazakh President] Nazarbayev, to those who are in the Shanghai Five now,” he said.
Turkey has been associated with the SCO since the last five years. It applied for “dialogue partnership” in SCO in 2011 and its status was approved in June 2012 at the SCO Heads of State Summit in Beijing.
Erdogan hinted his country may consider getting full membership in the largest non-Western organization in Eurasia. “It [the pact] would enable it [Turkey] to act with much greater ease,” he said.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is dominated by two influential countries China and Russia. The other full members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The territories of the six member states consist of 1.5 billion people, which equals to a quarter of the world's population. In addition to the six member states, the SCO has two new acceding members, India and Pakistan; four observer nations – Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan and Belarus – and six dialogue partners, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
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