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SCO founder: Turkey should start its departure process from NATO in order to be a member of SCO

After President Erdoğan suggested the SCO as an alternative to the EU, which has kept Ankara waiting on its accession for more than 50 years, officials from Russia and China have expressed optimism over Turkey's SCO membership

Speaking on the issue, Gen. Leonid Ivashov, one of the founders of the SCO, said yesterday to reporters that Turkey's effort for inclusion to the organization would be the right move.

"President Erdoğan's statement regarding the SCO is the right decision. The SCO has a bright future on economy, transportation and security matters. That's why Turkey's accession is very important," he said.

However, Ivashov added that the country should start its departure process from NATO as they do not foresee the accession of a NATO-member to the SCO.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to journalists Saturday on the presidential plane where he said it is time for Turkey to openly consider alternatives to the EU, suggesting that the SCO is a perfectly plausible substitute.

He pointed to Turkey's first application for membership of what was then known as the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1963, saying: "The EU has been procrastinating for 53 years. Can anyone accept such behavior? If you are not going to end talks, why open them in the first place?"

President Erdoğan put Turkey's willingness to join the SCO into words for the first time during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg in November 2013."Get us out of this suffering [EU]. We are willing to finalize a Free Trade Agreement with Eurasian countries. I talked about Shanghai Cooperation Organization with [Putin] before. We care about it," he said.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was formed by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 1996 under the name "Shanghai Five." After the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organization. In 2015, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members. Even though the SCO is referred to as an Eurasian political, economic, and military organization, the cooperation between member states centers upon the fight against threats posed by terrorism and security issues that include drug trafficking across Asia.

Mongolia, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are observers of the SCO, while Belarus, like Turkey, is a dialogue partner.  

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