Belarus seeks membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as the authorities of Belarus and Russia cling to every opportunity to gain support and create the appearance of successful regimes. Lukashenka hopes to reap economic benefits, but it's unlikely to result in anything better than a picture for propaganda purposes.
Euroradio asked experts about Belarus' chances of joining the SCO and why Russia is promoting the initiative.
"A big propaganda resonance can be created"
The authorities have chosen to cooperate with Asia, Africa and Latin America in order to compensate for the isolation in Europe, says political analyst Valery Karbalevich. That is why Belarus has applied for membership in the SCO. At present, it only has the status of an observer in the organization.
"Lukashenka is very proud to be there as an observer. This gives him the opportunity to attend summits and meet even with the chairman of China. A great propaganda resonance can be created out of this. Arguably, in response to the isolation from Europe, they will find friends in another world and an organization that includes the largest countries in the world, like China and Russia.
Although in fact, the Shanghai Organization is not really an organization. It is a club, a platform. Once a year, leaders meet, discuss something, adopt a statement, and that's basically it. But in terms of propaganda, this is a major diplomatic breakthrough. I think the authorities are making the most of it.
"If Russia had not promoted Belarus to the SCO in its own interests, accession there would hardly be possible," says political scientist Pavel Vusau. "Now it is quite possible," believe the experts interviewed.
The organization members do not pay much attention to human rights, while the requirements for entry are quite simple. One must have diplomatic relations with all the SCO members, as well as economic and humanitarian ties with these countries. You also need observer status with the SCO.
Countries that are under UN sanctions or in a state of armed conflict with other countries are not accepted. Judging by the fact that Russia was not excluded from the SCO, the participation of Belarus in the aggression against Ukraine may not be taken into account. There is also a territorial restriction: the country must belong to the Euro-Asian region.