Abstract: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was founded by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in 2001. Most previous research on the SCO has focused on the two leading members: China and Russia. This thesis explores the interests of the Central Asian states as members of the SCO, their compatibility with the SCO goals, and the Central Asian states\' role in the organization. This study shows that the SCO is compatible with the Central Asian states\' security and economic interests, regional cooperation, the need for balanced relations with the great powers--China, Russia and the United States. Moreover, although China and Russia are the leading members in the organization, the Central Asian states have been able to influence the agenda of the SCO and the foreign policies of the great powers through their multidirectional policies.