The virtual Summit of the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) took place under the chairmanship of Russia. The meeting took place in the backdrop of the unprecedented impact of coronavirus on the health of the people the world over, which has also resulted in serious socio-economic consequences. The SCO, ever since its inception, has established itself as one of the important edifice of the world order and is making significant contribution in maintaining peace and stability and facilitating development in the region
Addressing the virtual Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the Russian President Vladimir Putin for his efficient leadership of the Organization and for hosting the Summit in spite of the challenges and obstacles posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Modi urged the member-countries to respect each other’s territorial integrity. He said that while “ India maintains close cultural and historical ties the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation countries…India believes that to deepen connectivity; it is necessary to carry forward with the core principles- respecting one another’s sovereignty and territorial Integrity.” It is worth mentioning that the Charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, among other things, emphatically emphasises the imperatives of mutual of respect of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity of States, and inviolability of State borders, non-aggression, and non-interference in internal affairs. The Indian Prime Minister’s frank message has traction in the backdrop of the continuing stand-off between the armies of India and China at the Line of Actual Control in the Indo- China border since mid-May. The two countries are now engaged for disengagement and de-escalation of the situation. The peaceful resolution of the military stand-off at the border between the two countries will greatly enhance the laudable goals of good neighbourliness mutual trust and friendship between the member states.
In an oblique reference to Pakistan’s attempt to raise bilateral issues in a multilateral forum like SCO, Prime Minister Modi said that it was unfortunate that “repeated attempts are being made to unnecessarily bring bilateral issues in the SCO agenda, which is in violation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter and Shanghai Spirit.” It may be recalled that at the Bishkek SCO summit last year, Mr. Modi, on the sidelines of the meeting told Chinese President Xi that he had made efforts to initiate peace with Pakistan, but his efforts had been “derailed”. He had further said that Pakistan needed to create an atmosphere “free of terrorism”. In fact fighting the menace of terrorism has been one of the main objectives of the Organization.In his address Prime Minister also mentioned that India’s pharma industry has been supplying essential medicines to more than 150 countries during the coronavirus pandemic. He extended India’s outright support to observe the 20th anniversary of the SCO in 2021 as the ‘SCO year of the culture’ and spoke of India’s own initiatives to hold the first SCO exhibition on shared ‘Buddhism Heritage’ to be organised by National Museum of India. The SCO Food Festival in India and the translation of ten regional literary works into Russian and Chinese. Mr. Modi also highlighted the importance of reformed multilateralism to meet the expectations of the world suffering from the social and financial after-effects of the pandemic.
Congratulating Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon for assuming the Chairmanship of SCO next year, Prime Minister Modi assured full cooperation from India. Mr. Modi expressed India’s readiness to host the next regular meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government. The Council is the supreme body of SCO and it determines priorities and defines major areas of activities of the organisation. The Indian Prime Minister’s offer to host the Council meeting is a substantive gesture to carry forward the laudable objectives of SCO and also augurs well for the bilateral relationship between India and other member-countries.
The success of SCO is contingent upon mutual trust and faith between and among the member states. The persistent security dilemma and trust deficit between the member-states will only harm the larger and collective interest of the Organization and also the individual interest of the member-countries. Prime Minister Modi’s eagerness to extend India’s support and outreach to SCO has raised optimism of thaw between the two neighbouring countries.
Script: Dr. Rupa Narayan Das, Strategic Analyst On Chinese Affairs