WASHINGTON – Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Chairman and Co-Chairman respectively of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), announce that the Commission will hold a hearing entitled “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Is it Undermining U.S. Interests in Central Asia?” on September 26, 2006, at 3:00 p.m. in room 538 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Since its inception five years ago, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been touted by its members — Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan — as a multilateral, regional security and economic organization which is “not directed against any states and regions.” SCO member states, some of which have endured terrorist attacks, have sought to develop a unified approach to combating terrorism, and member states have cooperated with the United States in this regard.
Nevertheless, the SCO is viewed with concern by some in Washington. Some fear the SCO will be used as a way to limit the United States’ influence in the region, and indeed the grouping has called for the closure of U.S. bases there. As an alliance of authoritarian states, it also supports the current repressive and less reformist policies of the Central Asian governments which contravene their OSCE human dimension commitments. This hearing will examine the SCO as an organization and what impact it has on U.S. interests in Central Asia.
The following witnesses are scheduled to testify:
Hon. Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Dr. Steven Blank, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
Dr. Martha Olcott, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Dr. Sean R. Roberts, Central Asian Affairs Fellow, Georgetown University