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Statement by External Affairs Minister at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of State Summit 2013 in Bishkek

September 13, 2013

Your Excellency, President Almazbek Atambayev,
Distinguished Heads of State
Secretary General of the SCO,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • It is an honour for me to represent India at this important Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. I bring with me the good wishes of the President, the Prime Minister and the people of India to our friends here today. I also wish to thank the Government and the people of the Kyrgyz Republic for the gracious hospitality and warm welcome.
  • This SCO Summit is taking place in politically and economically turbulent times. The world economy is troubled. In times of globalization, we know that growth can be restored only with collective efforts by creating more jobs, bringing in financial reforms and creating a conducive environment for business. We commend Russia’s lead in organizing a successful G20 Summit in St. Petersburg recently, where G20 leaders deliberated, discussed and agreed on measures that are needed for global economic recovery.
  • But this is more an occasion for us to celebrate the milestones which the SCO has crossed over the years, in addressing the security and developmental challenges of our common region. The SCO, we feel, would need to continuously adapt to a changing world and reorient its objectives without necessarily diluting its original vision. We have no doubt that the SCO members will guide the destiny of the organization with a strong sense of history.
  • On its part, India has been associated with the SCO as an observer since 2005. During this period, we have discovered a great degree of convergence with the SCO in underlying values, working principles and strategic ethos. India strongly believes in the philosophical principles guiding the SCO, like progress through consensus, decisions by constructive dialogue and strengthening mutual confidence, friendship and good neighbourly relations. India is guided in its approach by the mantra or principle of multilateralism, that the common good of all has primacy over any bilateral differences. Given this fundamental approach, given India’s emergence as a vibrant economy and a vast market; our repository of human, scientific & technological knowledge; and our development and security related experience of over six decades, we believe that India can make deeper contributions to enrich the SCO process and contribute to its success.
  • India is civilisationally linked to the ancient networks of the Silk Route which traversed the landmass occupied by the modern day SCO. These networks stimulated trans-continental development at the time, and also catalysed cultural linkages, clear evidence of which exist till today. We therefore feel that SCO, among its other endeavours, should also focus on creating well-connected trade and investment corridors within the SCO region - with India, as in earlier times, adding value and content. These connections between our countries, whether rails, roads or pipelines, will help re-energise our economies and bring our people closer together.

    Excellencies
  • India has long been a victim of terrorism and we are acutely aware of the threat that its perpetrators pose to our people. We are of the firm view that only multilateral efforts and integrated actions can help effectively counter these negative forces including the related evils of drug trafficking and small arms proliferation. We are keen to deepen our security-related cooperation with the SCO in general and with the Regional Anti Terrorism Structure, in particular. We look forward to the signing of the Model Protocol of Intent in the near future as a demonstration of our willingness and commitment.
  • India is increasingly concerned about the security challenges which may emanate from the developing situation in Afghanistan. India strongly believes that Afghanistan can successfully complete the security, political and economic transitions in coming years and regain its historical place as a hub for regional trade and transit routes. However, this presupposes fulfillment of pledges made by the international community for security and civilian assistance to Afghanistan and non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. We see SCO as an important body that can offer a credible alternative regional platform to discuss the challenges related to Afghanistan.
  • This Summit of the SCO is taking place at a crucial juncture in global politics, with many nations seared by violence and conflict. We have today the opportunity to reflect on events of deep geo-political significance in our neighbourhood. India is deeply concerned at the ongoing conflict in Syria and is closely watching the fast paced developments. We have consistently called upon all sides to abjure violence so that conditions can be created for an inclusive political dialogue leading to a comprehensive political solution, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. At the same time, any external military intervention in Syria’s affairs should be excluded. We are encouraged by the current proposal, steered by Russia, that is aimed at bringing the Syrian chemical stockpile under international control. This proposal is in alignment with India’s own consistent stance of supporting the complete destruction and elimination of chemical weapons worldwide. India sees any move in this direction, within the framework of the UN, as a positive development. We are hopeful that this development will reinvigorate the peace efforts towards a political solution to the Syrian conflict, including the early holding of the proposed ‘International Conference on Syria’ (Geneva-II), bringing all parties to the conflict to the negotiating table.
  • In conclusion, let me reiterate that India stands ready to play a larger role in the SCO as a full member, once the organization reaches consensus on the expansion process. It is our conviction that an expanded SCO will be a more effective body to address the numerous security and developmental challenges that our region faces.
  • I once again, thank the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic for guiding the SCO this year and for organizing this Summit.
Bishkek
September 13, 2013


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