Speaking at the 20th summit of the SCO Council of Heads of State, which was held virtually on Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi said India firmly believed in “regional peace, security and prosperity and raising voice against terrorism, smuggling of illegal weapons, drugs and money-laundering.”
This was the third SCO meeting that India participated in after becoming a full member in 2017. The meeting, chaired by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, was attended by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chinese President Xi Jinping as well.
While Pakistan has continued cross-border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir, China is locked in a stand-off with India along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
Mentioning that India’s brave soldiers participated in about 50 UN peacekeeping missions, Prime Minister Modi reiterated the need for reformed multilateralism to meet the expectations of a world suffering from the social and financial after-effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
He elaborated on India’s vision of a “Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat” (Self-reliant India) in the post-pandemic world that could prove to be a force multiplier for the global economy and the economic progress of the SCO region. India’s Pharma industry, he pointed out, supplied essential medicines to more than 150 countries during the pandemic.
India, as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, beginning from January 1, 2021, will focus on the theme of ‘reformed multilateralism’ to bring about desirable changes in global governance.
The Prime Minister underlined India’s strong cultural and historical connect with the SCO region and reiterated India’s firm commitment towards strengthening connectivity in the region with initiatives like International North-South Transport Corridor, Chabahar Port and Ashgabat Agreement.
He also extended full support to observing the 20th anniversary of SCO in 2021 as the ‘SCO Year of Culture’ and spoke of India’s own initiatives to hold the first SCO exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage to be organised by the National Museum of India, the SCO Food Festival in India next year and the translation of 10 regional language literary works into Russian and Chinese.
Expressing his readiness to host the next regular Meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government on November 30, 2020 in virtual format, the Prime Minister also proposed to set up a Special Working Group on Innovation and Startups and a Sub Group on Traditional Medicine within SCO.
Others who participated in the meeting included Secretary General of the SCO Secretariat, Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, the Presidents of the four Observers (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia) of the SCO.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to SCO leaders, congratulated President Vladimir Putin for organising the meeting despite challenges and constraints arising due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Prime Minister congratulated President Emomali Rahmon of the Republic of Tajikistan for assuming the chairmanship of SCO next year and assured full cooperation from India.