“It is unfortunate to note that there have been repeated attempts to deliberately bring bilateral issues into SCO. This violates the well-established principles and norms of SCO Charter,” said India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar at the 20th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on November 25. The SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG) meeting was held in a digital video conference format, under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan.
During the meeting, Dr Jaishankar stated that “any serious connectivity initiative must be consultative, transparent, and participatory”, and must also adhere to the “most basic principle of international law – respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Speaking about Pakistan dredging up the issue of Kashmir at several meetings of various SCO bodies, the EAM said, “Such acts are counterproductive to the spirit of consensus and cooperation that define this organisation and should be condemned.”
The external affairs minister noted that the meeting took place in a rapidly changing global and regional environment. “In these times of unprecedented upheaval, it is heartening to note that SCO continues to play a significant role in promoting peace and stability in the region. India remains committed to contributing constructively to the implementation of the mandate of SCO,” he said.
Dr Jaishankar pointed out that India is an emerging economic force at the global level, and stands ready to share its startup experience with the other SCO member countries through its initiative to set up a Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation. He also noted India’s swift response in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring economic stability. “India today is an emerging economic force at the global level. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast a 9.5 percent growth in the Indian economy in 2021. Our trade performance has also been strong, growing by more than 20 percent this year. Despite COVID, India attracted record FDI inflows of USD 77 billion in 2020-21 and another $22 billion in the first three months of this year. WIPO has ranked India number one in the Global Innovation Index 2021 in the Central and South Asian region. Indian Startups have so far created 65 unicorns, out of which, 28 unicorns were added during 2021 alone,” he said as per ANI.
According to Dr Jaishankar, the recent Climate Change Conference in Glasgow has strengthened the realization that for many developing countries, climate change remains their biggest existential threat. For the world to make the necessary changes, he said, resources, innovation, cooperation, and lifestyle changes are needed. “As we move towards practical implementation of the trade and economic agenda of SCO, we must simultaneously pay heed to the climate change impact of our joint activities,” he said. According to Dr Jaishankar, India is one of the few large economies to have adhered to the Paris Agreement in letter and spirit. He noted that India is also willing to share its experience in climate change mitigation and adaptation in the SCO format. He also emphasised India’s strong cultural and historical connection with the SCO region and reaffirmed India’s firm commitment to deepening multilateral cooperation in the areas of climate change, security, trade, and culture. In conclusion of the meeting, the heads of government present adopted a joint communiqué and made other decisions.
The SCO was founded by presidents of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic in 2001 at a summit in Shanghai. The SCO-CHG meeting takes place annually, and focuses on the bloc’s trade and economic agenda and its budget for the coming year. Participants include presidents of SCO member states, ambassadors of SCO observer states, and the secretary-general of the SCO. It has grown to become one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. In 2017, India and Pakistan became permanent members.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the meeting took place within the trilateral framework of Russia-India-China (RIC). The ministry said that the foreign ministers were expected to discuss further strengthening of the RIC trilateral cooperation and exchange views on various regional and international issues of importance. In September 2020, India assumed the chairmanship of the RIC following the last meeting of the RIC Foreign Ministers in Moscow. According to reports, Dr Jaishankar will be handing over the chairmanship of the RIC to the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China for the next year.