Foreign ministers from eight member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) have reached Goa to attend its Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting on 5 May. India, the host country, gives immense significance to SCO for promoting various interactions in the region such as multilateral, political, security, economic, and people-to-people. This meeting will set the platform for the SCO Leaders’ Summit that will take place in July in New Delhi.
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- Leaders from eight member states, including China, Russia, and Pakistan, are attending the meeting.
- This is the first time since 2011 that a Pakistani Foreign Minister has come to India.
- The meeting will discuss various issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war, counter-terrorism concerns, and the reform of the SCO.
- The possibility of using national currencies to settle trade payments is also expected to be on the agenda.
- The meeting will pave the way for the SCO Leaders’ Summit scheduled to be held on July 3-4 in New Delhi.
India’s Chairmanship of SCO
- India’s theme for its Chairmanship of SCO in 2023 is ‘SECURE-SCO’ with a focus on regional security, defense, and combating terrorism, among others.
- India plans to modernize the grouping with advanced technology and digital infrastructure.
- Discussions with regional counterparts on various regional, security, and political issues are also on the agenda.
- India has been pushing the bloc to add ‘English’ as an official language of communication since becoming a full member in 2017.
- The proposal was first placed in 2020 due to the inclusion of India and Pakistan, the only members without Russian or Mandarin language proficiency, and the widely used languages in the bloc’s six Central Asian nations.
- Foreign ministers and their delegations arrived in Goa on May 4 and are staying at the Taj Exotica in Benaulim.
- S Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister, hosted a dinner for the visiting dignitaries.
- The official engagements began on May 5 with the arrival of foreign ministers and heads of delegations at the meeting venue, followed by a group photo.
- The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) began in the morning and concluded with the signing of a Memorandum with New Dialogue Partners.
- The leaders held various bilateral meetings with their respective counterparts from other nations.
- The SCO Council of National Coordinators met from April 29 to May 3 in Panaji, Goa, chaired by India.
- The parties reviewed and agreed on the main draft documents to be submitted for signature at the Ministerial Council meeting.
About Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
- The SCO is an organization made up of several governments that works together to maintain peace, security, and stability in the Eurasian region.
- The organization is often considered a counterbalance to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and it is a nine-member group focused on economics and security, making it one of the biggest international organizations that span different regions.
- The official languages of SCO are Russian and Chinese.
- The organization has two permanent bodies – the SCO Secretariat in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent.
- The chairmanship of the organization rotates among its member states every year.
- The most recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan in 2022.
History of SCO
- It was established in 2001 and its official Charter was signed in 2002 and became active in 2003.
- Before the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2001, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan formed the Shanghai Five in 1996.
- The Shanghai Five was created after a series of negotiations between the four former Soviet republics and China to ensure stability along their borders.
- When Uzbekistan joined in 2001, the Shanghai Five was renamed the SCO.
- India and Pakistan became members of the organization in 2017.
- On September 17th, 2021, Iran was announced as a new full member of the SCO.
- This year, Iran will become the latest addition to the SCO joining the forum under India’s chairmanship.
- There were originally six countries designated as “Dialogue Partners” with the SCO: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Later in the year 2021, Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia also became Dialogue Partners with the organization.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has four main bodies
- The Heads of State Council, which is the highest authority in SCO, decides on internal matters and interactions with other countries and international organizations.
- The Heads of the Government Council approve the budget and deal with economic issues.
- The Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs takes care of daily activities.
- The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) was created to fight against terrorism, extremism, and separatism.
Objectives of the SCO
- To build stronger relationships of trust and friendship among its member states.
- It aims to promote cooperation in various fields such as politics, trade and economy, research and technology, and culture.
- Additionally, the organization strives to strengthen ties in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and more
- One of its key goals is to maintain peace, security, and stability in the region.
- Finally, the SCO seeks to establish a democratic, fair, and rational new international political and economic order.
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