H.E. Madumarov Akram Kambaralievich, Vice Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic; Mr. K. Kochkonov, National Coordinator of the SCO from the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr. Emilbek Kaptagaev, Director, the National Institute for Strategic Studies of the Kyrgyz Republic, and the host of today’s Forum; Ambassador Vladimir Norov, Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation; Heads of Centres and think tanks from countries associated with SCO, diplomats, academicians, and distinguished participants, it gives me great pleasure to participate in the 15th chapter of the Forum today. On behalf of the Council and my delegation from India, let me thank Mr. Emilbek Kaptagaev, for kindly extending the invitation to us to participate in this Forum in online mode.
2. The agenda of today’s Forum aptly summarises the challenges we are faced with in our region and the reason why we are unable to exchange our views in a physical format. I had attended the previous Forum at Beijing, and will be missing the vibrancy and liveliness the Forum gatherings enjoy. I hope we recover quickly from the pandemic and resume normal functioning. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the global crisis we are in the midst of, enables us also to reflect and act upon time honoured principles of internationalism and multilateral cooperation. The SCO has become a vibrant organization and acts as an umbrella covering a vast swathe of the world’s population and territory. This forum is perhaps best described as an intellectual arm of the SCO itself. As think tanks, as experts and academics our principal aim is to throw up ideas and concepts which can then find their way into government policy for strengthening inter-governmental and multilateral cooperation.
3. The Prime Minister of India in his remarks during the 2019 SCO Summit at Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, was prescient when he suggested an acronym for future cooperation in our region. I quote "The letters HEALTH can be a good template for our collaboration, H for Healthcare Cooperation; E for Economic Cooperation; A for Alternate Energy; L for Literature and Culture; T for Terrorism free society; H for Humanitarian Cooperation." Indeed, it was a timely suggestion.
4. Clearly, the current pandemic will make us think deeply about the interconnected issues of economic cooperation and development, security, climate change and health and energy cooperation. We greatly look forward to hosting the SCO Heads of Government Meeting to further discuss and advance these ideas. In anticipation a number of our sister organizations are finalizing plans to flesh out the ideas and proposals, so that a workable plan for inter-governmental cooperation is prepared.
5. The SCO Business Council will host the SCO Business Forum in November that will strive to find common ground for greater trade and investment in MSMEs, agro-processing, digital economy, pharmaceuticals and green technologies, etc. Similarly, INVESTINDIA will host the first ever SCO Startup Forum in October to focus on key areas like Best Practices Workshops, Corporate and Investor Engagement, Procuring social innovations and Knowledge sharing sessions. The encouraging aspect of such an outlook is that the areas of interest were identified by Member States themselves at the Preparatory Seminar held by INVESTINDIA on 11 August that was attended by more than 80 delegates.
6. India would also like to contribute to a greater understanding of each other’s cultural heritage by fostering greater people-to-people contacts. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we could not host physical meetings this year. But we are nonetheless, going ahead with holding the digital exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage in SCO Member States at the National Museum in Delhi and the translation of classics of Indian regional literature into the SCO languages of Russian and Chinese. Bringing together the youth in SCO is another area we are focusing on. The first step from our side is to join the SCO Youth Council this year with National Service Scheme (NSS) being nominated to lead from India. We are hopeful that with these efforts we will encourage a paradigm shift in our perception of each other’s cultural and civilizational heritage and bonds that unite our region.
7. The Covid-19 and its fallout is not the only challenge our region has to deal with. Unfortunately, we are still grappling with the menace of terrorism and non-traditional security threats. SCO through its Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure is making serious efforts to deal with this common enemy. In our view SCO will also play a constructive role in Afghanistan through the mechanism created for the purpose – the Contact Group.
8. Low intra-region trade in SCO area remains a concern and there is a need to boost it. Our pan-regional economic and connectivity cooperation is yet to take off. Greater economic cooperation will bring benefits to the common people in SCO area.
9. Dear Participants, the Forum is being held at a time when more than ever, comprehensive regional programmes are to be formulated and implemented as another means to strengthen international cooperation. Growing protectionism, xenophobic tendencies and ignoring global consensus and international rules and norms on critical matters are challenges that we should ponder upon jointly. The immediate necessity of finding suitable vaccine, require extensive cooperation both at the regional and non-regional levels.
10. In such a situation, the significance of cooperation in SCO is even greater. We strongly feel that we have the required potential to address these and other challenges. It is important therefore that we must remain committed to the spirit of consensus and mutual understanding the Organisation strongly believes in.
11. Dear participants, thank you for your attention. I would like to stop by thanking the organisers of the event and the interpreters for enabling us to be heard by the distinguished participants.
12. I wish the Forum a great success. Thank you.