Remarks by Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director VIF during the roundtable to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the SCO Charter and the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Long-Term Good Neighbourliness, Friendship, and Cooperation among

Mr. Chairman,
Secretary-General of the China Centre for the SCO studies,
China Institute of International Studies,
Fellow panellists,
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

Greetings from the Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi

I would like to thank the SCO Secretariat and the China Institute of International Studies for inviting me to the today’s symposium being held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the SCO Charter and the 15th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Long-Term Good Neighbourliness, Friendship, and cooperation among SCO states. Both these documents have contributed to the development of the cooperative character of the organisation.

As a regional organization, the SCO has played an important role in encouraging peace, stability, and growth in the region. The expansion of the SCO in recent years will make it more inclusive, effective, and responsive to the needs and requirements of the region andhelp in implementing its charter.

Friends,

The world is experiencing unprecedented turbulence. Covid-19 and Climate Change crises have exposed the limitations of global institutions and underlined the need for even greater robust, inclusive, and effective international cooperation.

Even as the world is struggling to come out of the pandemic, geopolitical tensions have flared up. Several crises have erupted simultaneously.

The unprecedented rise in energy and food prices as a result of rising geopolitical tensions threatens to trigger social unrest in several parts of the world. The prevailing high energy prices are unsustainable, endangering post-pandemic economic recovery. The Food Price Index issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation is at a historical high. Fertilizer prices have doubled in recent times. Global supply chains have been disrupted. The global payment system has been fragmented. Nearly 60 percent of Least Developing Countries are in severe debt distress. 46 million people in Africa and 47 million in Asia are facing hunger. Additional 77 million people have slipped into extreme poverty.

The situation in Afghanistan continues to be a matter of grave concern to the region. While Afghan people need humanitarian assistance urgently, the prospect of terrorist groups regrouping on Afghan soil is real. SCO has a special responsibility to ensure that a solution to the Afghan problem is found within the parameters of the UNSC resolution 2593 of 2021, calling for an inclusive, negotiated political settlement with free and equal participation of women.

Friends,

Religious fundamentalism and radicalization pose a major threat to the stability of the region. Developments earlier this year in Central Asia serve as a warning that separatism, extremism, and terrorism are still alive and pose a major threat to the stability of the region. Speaking at the plenary session of the 21st meeting of the SCO Council of the Heads of State, Prime Minister Modi has called upon the SCO to develop a “common template” to fight radicalisation and extremism.

Addressing the needs and aspirations of young people is a matter of great urgency. After joining the organization in 2017, India has sought to make a constructive contribution to the functioning of the SCO. During the chairmanship of the SCO Council of heads of government meeting on 30th November, India made several suggestions including setting up an SCO Start-Up Forum, and the creation of an expert group of traditional medicines. India also hosted the first-ever SCO Young Scientist Conclave.

Mutual connectivity is at the heart of SCO’s growth and prosperity. As PM Modi noted, Central Asia has been a “connectivity bridge” between major regional markets. India is committed to increasing its connectivity with Central Asia based on transparency and mutual benefit, enhancing investment in Iran Chabahar port and energising International North-South Transport Corridor.

With new tensions arising in the world, the SCO needs to play a constructive and positive role in mitigating these tensions. SCO also needs to be sensitive to be the aspiration of young people. India is ready to share its experience of growth, development, digital technologies, and fighting the pandemic with SCO countries. This will help contribute to the reimagining and revitalising the SCO.

Thank you.

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