Uzbek President Islam Karimov (left) and Vladimir Putin of Russia during a 2005 SCO summit in Kazakhstan (epa)
16 January 2006 -- The executive secretary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) says the period of instability in Central Asia has passed.
Speaking today in Beijing, Zhang Deguang highlighted recent economic and political developments as stabilizing factors. But he said the region has not yet overcome corruption and unemployment.
Deguang urged member states to fight together against terrorism, separatism, extremism, and drug trafficking. He also cited new challenges, such as natural disasters and the spread of dangerous infections such as bird flu.
The SCO will become one of the world's most influential organizations by 2050, Deguang predicted.
The SCO was set up in 2001 and groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Deguang insisted, though, that the SCO does not seek "any dominant role" and will never be a military bloc.