Erdogan: Our goal is to obtain membership in the Shanghai Organization

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country aims to obtain membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

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This came in response to journalists’ questions at the conclusion of his participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, which was hosted by the Uzbek city of Samarkand on Thursday and Friday.

Erdogan pointed out that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has traveled important distances in the fields of security, economy and trade since its establishment and continued its expansion in this context.

He added that the decisive role played by the Asian continent in the global economy is evident, as the OIC countries cover 60 percent of the Eurasia region, with an estimated population of 3.2 billion and an economic size of $20 trillion.

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He noted that the summit was an important occasion to confirm Turkey’s priorities and to express the contributions it can make to the core issues of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Erdogan answered a question whether the Shanghai Cooperation Organization would invite Turkey to its membership.

In this context, he said, the organization started with five members in the first stages of its establishment, then the number of its members increased to 9, with 3 observer members and 9 countries as “axis partner”, including Turkey.

He noted that most of the leaders participating in the summit expressed their thanks to Turkey for its role in reducing tension following the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war last February.

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Erdogan indicated that Turkey attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand at the special invitation of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (chairman of the session) due to the distinguished relations between them.

He added, “The next stage is to move forward with making advanced steps in this direction (Turkey’s membership in the organization), and this step may be raised at a higher level in the upcoming (summit) talks hosted by India… Of course the (ultimate) goal is membership.”

As part of his participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Summit, Erdogan held meetings with his Russian counterparts, Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani Ilham Aliyev, Chinese Xi Jinping, Mongolian Okhnangin Khursukh, Uzbek Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Iranian Ibrahim Raisi, as well as Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Indian Narendra Modi.

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And yesterday, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit concluded its work with the adoption by member states of the “Samarkand Declaration”.

The organization, which was established in June 2001, includes eight countries: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, and Uzbekistan, while Turkey was granted the status of a “pivotal partner” within the organization in 2012.

In a separate context, the Turkish President touched on the shipment of grain from Ukrainian ports in implementation of the Istanbul Agreement signed by the four parties; Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations.

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Erdogan said that “the grain corridor should be operated in a way that is more directed to the least developed countries,” pointing out that Turkey’s main role in shipping grain aims to deliver these shipments to the least developed countries.

He indicated that he discussed with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin the issue of grain shipment and its follow-up in the next stage.

Putin had warned a week ago of the worsening humanitarian crises related to the food market, attributing this to “the European countries’ acquisition of the majority of Ukraine’s grain exports,” and said that “only 3 percent of the wheat that exited from Ukraine went to poor countries.”

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On July 22, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations signed the “Document on the Safe Shipping Initiative for Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian Ports” during a meeting hosted by Istanbul.

The agreement included securing exports of grain stuck in the Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea (Eastern Europe) to the world.