Turkey, China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Could Turkey be heading towards membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization? China, at least, seems enthusiastic about it, according to a report in the Associated Press of Pakistan:
“China is very positive for Turkey to become a SCO dialogue partner. However, whether it become dialogue partner it would depend on the consensus of the member states of the SCO”, said Cheng Guoping, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister...
“Turkey is a friendly country of China and in terms of economic, political, security and people-to-people cultural exchanges and cooperation we have very smooth cooperation”, Cheng observed.
Now, becoming a "dialogue partner" would put Turkey in the same class as Belarus and Sri Lanka, which is to say, not very significant in the SCO. But it's still an intriguing move, not least because it seems like China is especially interested in Turkey's cooperation. A Chinese scholar, Zhao Huasheng, speaking recently here in Washington, mooted Turkey as a possible cooperation partner, as well. As Cheng put it:
The SCO is an open organization as defined in its charter, he said, noting that it is willing to cooperate with “organizations and nations that hold the same opinions as us”.
How, exactly, China imagines that Turkey has "the same opinions" as China is not clear, but that's an interesting statement, in the context. Last year the two countries carried out two rounds of military exercises, which raised some eyebrows in Washington.
Turkey reportedly had some interest in SCO cooperation a few years ago, but I haven't been able to find any Turkish official commentary on this, or analysis (if there is some out there, I'd love to hear about it).
The SCO is holding its 10th anniversary summit in Astana on June 15, and according to the Kazakh hosts, there probably isn't too much to expect, at least in terms of expansion of the group, other than adding Afghanistan as an observer:
The Summit is highly unlikely to produce decisions on expanding the full members list but is going to review Afghanistan’s bid to obtain an observer status.
But it'll be worth watching to see if Turkey comes up in the discussion.