Erdogan: Turkey wants to join Shanghai Group

DAccording to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NATO member Turkey wants to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose largest members are China and Russia. According to Turkey's state news agency Anadolu, Erdogan said on Saturday after a summit of the organization in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, that Turkey wants to discuss the goal of membership at the group's meeting in India next year.

Turkey has "historical and cultural" connections to the Asian continent and wants to play a role in the organization, whose members together make up "30 percent of global economic output," Erdogan said. Turkey is currently listed as a dialogue partner by the Shanghai organization. In the event of accession, Turkey would be the first member of the group to also belong to the western defense alliance NATO.

Established in 2001 to fight terrorism, the group includes China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran, which, like Belarus and Mongolia, previously had observer status, was also admitted to the most recent summit. The process for the admission of Belarus, which is considered the “last dictatorship in Europe”, also began.

Erdogan accuses NATO and the EU, where Turkey has had candidate status since 1999 without making any significant progress, of a lack of support for Turkey. Turkey and Russia, in turn, have common interests and good relations in some areas - although Ankara condemns Moscow's attack on Ukraine. Turkey recently tried to mediate between the warring parties, for example on the issue of Ukrainian grain exports across the Black Sea.

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