ASTANA, June 8 (Xinhua) -- The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit to be held here in the Kazakh capital on Thursday and Friday will advance security and economic cooperation among its members, analysts have said.
India and Pakistan will complete their accession to the SCO during the Astana summit. Meanwhile, leaders of the member states will also discuss the bloc's missions and prospects and exchange views on international and regional issues.
Former SCO Secretary-General Dmitry Mezentsev called the summit "historic," as it will be the first time for the China-initiated organization to expand membership since its founding in Shanghai in 2001. The SCO currently groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
"The SCO is turning into a transcontinental organization covering (an extensive area) from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean, from China's Pacific city of Lianyungang to Russia's Baltic city of Kaliningrad," said SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov.
The SCO has played an effective role in ensuring security, stability and sustainable development in the modern system of interstate relations, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told Xinhua.
The key factor is the readiness of the SCO members to base their activities on the principles of the "Shanghai Spirit," said the Russian diplomat.
According to Morgulov, new risks are added to traditional security challenges in the SCO region, and the Islamic State terrorists are trying to penetrate into the SCO space.
Against this backdrop, the SCO needs to increase the effectiveness of its anti-terrorist efforts, Morgulov said.
To that end, the SCO should strengthen its regional anti-terrorist structure headquartered in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, said Vladimir Yevseyev, deputy head of the Moscow-based Commonwealth of Independence States Studies Institute.
Since some SCO members belong to the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, Yevseyev suggested that the two organizations coordinate their actions to fight terrorism.
South Asia faces growing anti-terrorist pressure, said Alexey Maslov, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, one of Russia's top universities.
With the participation of India and Pakistan, the SCO members can exchange terrorist lists, establish a database, track cross-border flows of terrorists and bust drug business, which has been a traditional funding source for terrorism, said Maslov, adding that the organization should also safeguard cybersecurity.
The SCO Development Strategy towards 2025, adopted during the Ufa summit in 2015, aims to expand trade, economic and investment ties, as well as increase joint project activities in priority areas of cooperation.
The economic agenda within the SCO is becoming more and more weighty, said Mezentsev.
"The establishment of a free trade zone (FTZ) requires time. We are perfectly aware that today, when competition in the world market is increasing, it is very important to find formats for interaction with each other," said Mezentsev.
In this regard, Maslov said the establishment of FTZs should not be carried out hastily, as some economically weak countries may oppose it.
He said economic cooperation within the framework of the SCO should start with the lifting of trade barriers and the establishment of joint high-tech parks.
In Alimov's view, there are two advantages. Firstly, about 70 percent of the SCO population are under the age of 50 and economically active. Moreover, geographic proximity and a series of deals have enhanced economic coherence among member states.
"The Astana summit will define key directions for further development of the SCO," Alimov said.