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Armenia Asks For Observer Status in SCO

Armenia is seeking to become an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as Yerevan seems to be establishing its own unique brand of multivector diplomacy.

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan made the announcement on a visit to China, and Chinese PM Li Keqiang said he would bring the issue up with other SCO members.

The SCO is a China-dominated political-military bloc that also includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO has been expanding west, though, recently: Turkey became a "dialogue partner" earlier this year, a status Belarus also holds.

Sargsyan offered no explanation of what Armenia might be looking for with the SCO, so it's up to us to speculate. Armenia, of course, raised eyebrows when it came out that it had gotten multiple-launch rocket systems from China, and Armenia could be casting around for new partners, Emil Sanamyan, editor of the newspaper Armenian Reporter, told The Bug Pit. "My sense of this is an extension of the outreach to China that is made relevant by the recent diplomatic setbacks with both Europe and Russia. The recent leak re fresh weapons purchase from China seems to also be part of that," Sanamyan said. "With the EU association document killed by Russian pressure, there will be some new entity to fill the airwaves with." (Sanamyan also noted that Armenia is an observer in the Arab League, another organization whose connection to Armenia looks somewhat tenuous.)

Another analyst, Sergey Minasyan of the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan, downplayed Sargsyan's statement, telling The Bug Pit that it was likely a "formality" and that nothing would come of it, either for the SCO or for Armenia. That seems a safe prediction. The SCO's summit is Friday in Bishkek; let's see if the issue of Armenia comes up.

Armenia Asks For Observer Status in SCO

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