H.E. Ambassador Vladimir Norov, Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organization,
Ambassador Reenat Sandhu, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi,
Let me warmly welcome you on behalf of the Indian Council of World Affairs to today’s event – “SCO & India : The Trajectory Ahead”.
I am particularly grateful to Ambassador Norov for delivering the opening address today. Ambassador Norov is a friend of India and of ICWA. He has attended the Council’s programmes, both in person and in the online formats.
Warm welcome also to Ambassador Reenat Sandhu, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, for agreeing to join this programme and to grace us with her special remarks at the Inaugural Session.
Today’s conference has been organized in the follow-up to the 21st Heads of State Summit and in the run up to the upcoming Heads of Government meeting in November in Kazakhstan. Besides, we are also commemorating the 20 years of the formation of the Organization.
SCO covers a vast swathe of global humanity and geography. The profile and reputation of SCO as an effective regional voice has been growing. Its decision-making process, based on a consensus approach to achieve common objectives, has been useful both for expanding its agenda and for its growing membership. The Organization remains active round the year, engaging members, observers and dialogue partners at the political, diplomatic, official and academic levels. The SCO family has increased with the inclusion of Iran as a new member and Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt as observers. The expansion not only strengthens the Organization but also opens new prospects for enhanced economic and strategic dynamism, both for the SCO as well as its constituents.
India became a full member of the SCO in 2017, after a meaningful period of association as an Observer. From the perspective of India’s engagement, year 2020 was important, as, for the first time, a summit-level SCO meeting was hosted by New Delhi. The online 19th Council of Heads of Government Summit was hosted by Hon’ble Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the President of the Indian Council of World Affairs. In his opening remarks, he affirmed India’s commitment to play a proactive, positive and constructive role in SCO.
SCO has just concluded its 21st Heads of State Summit in Dushanbe in September 2021, which was attended online by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Dushanbe Summit was important from various perspectives. The Summit discussed number of initiatives to improve regional security and economic environment. Apart from Covid, it deliberated on issues of security, including threats emanating from terrorism and radicalization. Afghanistan was a major issue at the Dushanbe meeting. SCO underlined the importance of an inclusive Government in Afghanistan. These issues, clearly, are of concern to the larger international community as well.
The Eurasian space is drawing ever growing attention of the world. The region has a demographic dividend with a young population, fast economic recovery and growth, entrepreneurial manpower and great comparative advantages.
Our deliberations today should come up with ideas that help in enhancing India-SCO linkages and in formulating agendas for the forthcoming meetings of SCO, in particular, for the period when India will assume the Chair of the Heads of State Council of the SCO from September 2022.
ICWA on its part is also making its efforts to increase its contribution to SCO. The Council attends the annual SCO Forum meetings and other events organized by member countries. The ICWA also conducted studies on India-SCO engagement by prominent experts, including by Amb. Stobdan and Amb. Yogendra Kumar, who will be chairing technical session of the Conference. I am particularly delighted to inform that the ICWA has recently established a dedicated SCO Study Centre. The announcement was made by Vice President of India in July 2021. It is probably the first of the Centres in the country specifically set up to study this important regional grouping.
I thank you for your attention.