New Delhi, 4 July 2023 (TDI): The virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization kicked off today in India, bringing together the member states along with the other SCO partners to discuss regional issues and enhance collaborative efforts for ensuring regional stability and strengthening integration.

Modi’s Opening Remarks

It began with the Indian Prime Minister’s opening remarks, where he underpinned SCO’s efforts in forging regional connectivity and highlighted India’s contributions to SCO, based on the principles of SECURE and “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which means that the whole world is one family.

SECURE – Security, Economic Development, Connectivity, Unity, Respect, and Environmental Protection, is also the theme of this year’s summit, which was suggested by India at the 2018 SCO Summit.

Along with referring to the meetings, programs and conferences and people-to-people contacts conducted under India’s SCO chairmanship, Modi presented five areas of cooperation for SCO members, namely innovation and startups, traditional medicine, Buddhist heritage, youth empowerment, and digital inclusion.

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Furthermore, he proposed technological advancement and modernization within SCO to deal with modern-day challenges.

Touching upon the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and pressing on addressing this regional challenge, he called upon SCO members to criticize the states sponsoring cross-border terrorism, though, without specifying any country.

Welcoming New Members

This summit marked Iran’s formal entry into the multilateral organization that it had long awaited. Also, the participants welcomed Belarus’s signing of the Memorandum of Obligation for SCO membership.

A Glimpse of the Discussions at SCO Summit

Chinese Premier, during his address at the SCO meeting in India, stressed the enhancement of regional peace and called for collective security along with political efforts for solutions to regional challenges, while opposing actions of protectionism, unilateral sanctions and extending national security.

SCO Summit attended by the member states and dialogue partners on a virtual platform.
SCO Summit is attended by the member states and dialogue partners on a virtual platform in India.

It is the first time after the short-lived Wagner mutiny that the Russian President attended a summit, where he asserted that the Russians were “united as never before” in the face of an armed rebellion. Also, he thanked the member states for supporting Russia in difficult times of insurrection.

Moscow also criticized the West for supporting Ukraine and turning it against Russia. Furthermore, it promoted the use of local currencies in trade among its members.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, on the other hand, condemned terrorism as a regional threat and highlighted Pakistan’s unparalleled efforts to combat it.

Moreover, he applauded the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, considering it a game changer that would bolster regional connectivity and stability.

The initiative of trade in local currencies undertaken by the member states is an act of strengthening the economy of the states and will most likely undermine Western sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, the expansion of SCO membership to the Middle East and Europe is a stepping stone towards consolidating the Chinese and Russian alliance against the West.