SCO Summit 2018: Why Turkmenistan is not part of the Eurasia security bloc
The 18th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will take place in Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province on June 9 and 10. This is the first time that the SCO members will be meeting since its expansion last year when India and Pakistan were included as full-time members. The SCO now has eight members in all - Russia, China, India, Pakistan and the four Central Asian Republics (CARs) of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Why isn't the remaining CAR Turkmenistan also a part of the SCO?
Turkmenistan, which got independence after the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991 - just like the other four republics - has followed a policy of 'positive neutrality' in its foreign affairs from the onset. In October 1995, Turkmenistan, the second-largest of the CARs after Kazakhstan, told the United Nations about its foreign policy stance and subsequently, the UN unanimously adopted a special resolution of the General Assembly on the country's 'permanent neutrality'.
The neutrality in Turkmenistan's foreign policy also includes non-alignment with any military blocs and groupings, as its late president Sapramurat Niyazov had underlined.
It is because of this reason that Turkmenistan never joined the SCO though it has sent high-level representative as a special guest to SCO gatherings.
It has neither been a part of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation or CSTO which comprises, besides Russia, the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States though some of them withdrew from the bloc later.