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Statement by Foreign Secretary at the SCO – Council of Heads of Government Meeting at Tashkent

November 29, 2013

Your Excellency Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev,
Distinguished Heads of Government of the Members and Observers of the SCO, Special invitees, Dialogue Partners,
Secretary General of the SCO,
Excellencies, Gentlemen, Ladies

  1. It is an honour for me to represent my Prime Minister and my country at this important meeting of the Council of Heads of Governments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. I bring with me good wishes from my Prime Minister and from the people of India to our friends in the SCO region. At the outset, let me thank the Government and the friendly people of Uzbekistan for their gracious hospitality and warm welcome. It is appropriate that this meeting is taking place in Tashkent, the very heart of Central Asia, at an important time of transition for the region. Tashkent sits at the crossroads of history and is a wonderful symbol of not just the glorious heritage of Central Asia but also of a bright future.
  2. India has been proactively participating since 2005, in various SCO fora open to the observer countries. India has also been following closely the evolution of the SCO, learning much in the process, as also sharing our experiences in development and security. The SCO has played a constructive and valuable role in bringing peace and prosperity to our region. We are impressed that the SCO has emerged as an important regional forum focussing on issues of regional importance that are relevant and contemporary. We believe that the SCO is poised to play a much larger role in the future, both for the security and stability of our region.

    Excellencies,
  3. The SCO region is one of the fastest growing of the world. The rapid pace of economic development in our common region is closely linked with our common concern for environmental conservation. India is engaged with the SCO in its various conservation initiatives and this year, we participated in the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum in Bishkek. Our habitat is our common heritage and therefore in areas like disaster management and ecological conservation, we can benefit through sharing our experiences and best practices.
  4. We are brought together by a common vision and approach for rapid economic development of our nations and peoples. An improved transportation and communication network would help strengthen regional cooperation in our common space, in critical areas like energy, finance, infrastructure and telecommunications. It would also boost trade and investment in the region. The SCO's role in achieving these objectives is crucial. In this connection, India welcomes the SCO initiative for the creation of the Energy Club of SCO member states, observers and dialogue partners. We will participate in the meeting in Moscow next week to work out a common document to guide our work.
  5. India is already engaged with several SCO member states in diverse areas such as capacity building and human resource development, information technology, pharmaceuticals and health care, small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurship development. We would specifically like to share our experience in economic areas like banking, capital markets and micro-finance. India has articulated a 'Connect-Central Asia' policy in recent years, to further our vision of a region connected closely by its common aspiration for a better life for its people.
  6. In the security sphere we would like to see all states under the SCO umbrella vanquish terrorism from their territories and areas under their sovereign control.
  7. In the same vein, we are cognizant of terrorism as the major threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan. We believe that a long term solution can be achieved by supporting the efforts made by Afghanistan itself to begin an Afghan-led dialogue on reconciliation with the armed opposition forces, provided that these groups respect the principles adopted by the international community.
  8. On its part, India remains committed to Afghanistan’s institutional and socio-economic development, and the overall social upliftment of its people. We are of the opinion that the SCO should step up its engagement in the rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan, through common projects and financial commitments. We support the efforts by Russia to craft common SCO positions on Afghanistan and will be happy to join the specialised meetings to focus on this issue.

    Excellencies,
  9. India recognizes the inalienable right of all states to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in accordance with universally agreed international norms, conventions and obligations. In this context, we are encouraged by the recent tidings about the multilateral dialogue in Geneva to explore a comprehensive settlement of the Iranian nuclear question, through political and diplomatic means. The positive resolution of this issue can lead to multiple and far-reaching benefits across the region, including in the SCO space.
  10. As an Observer, India has always endeavoured to play a constructive role in the SCO both on security and developmental issues. With our experience and institutional capabilities, we feel that we can add value and share best practices in areas which may be of interest to the SCO – disaster management, food security and agricultural techniques, public administration, youth exchanges, information technology, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals, to name only a few. On the expansion of the SCO, we patiently await the beginning of the formal process. Our External Affairs Minister has already written to all his counterparts in SCO member States, conveying our interest in membership of the organisation. We stand ready to formally apply for full membership once the SCO announces the application modalities.
  11. In conclusion, Mr Chairman, I once again thank the Government of Uzbekistan for the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements.
Tashkent
29 November, 2013

 

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