SCO Summit, Bishkek (September 13, 2013)
September 09, 2013
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a six country multilateral body focused on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian space. The precursor of the SCO was the ‘Shanghai Five’ constituted in 1996 by China to address border security issues
with four of its neighbours. In its present form, the SCO was founded at the Summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. At the 2005 Astana Summit, India, Iran
and Pakistan were admitted as Observers. Mongolia was also inducted subsequently as an Observer, while Sri Lanka and Belarus became ‘Dialogue Partners’. Turkmenistan has been participating in SCO summits as a special invitee. At the 2012 Beijing Summit, Afghanistan
became an Observer, while Turkey was added as a Dialogue Partner.
- The SCO Council of Heads of State (HoS) is the supreme decision making body of the SCO and meets annually on a rotational basis (last in Beijing, June 2012). At the next level, the SCO Council of Heads of Government (HoG) also meets annually (last in Bishkek,
Dec 2012). Kyrgyz Republic is the current chair and shall host the SCO HOS Summit on Sep 13, 2013.
India’s participation at the SCO
- India participated in the 2005 SCO Summit at the level of Hon’ble External Affairs Minister (EAM) and has since participated in subsequent Summits at the Ministerial or lower levels; except for the Yekaterinburg (Russia) Summit in 2009, which was attended
by Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
- Since 2005, India has also been actively participating in all SCO fora open to Observers. This has included meetings of SCO Ministers for Trade, Transport, Culture, Interior/Home and Emergency Situations; SCO Business Forums; SCO ‘Energy Club’, etc. In
particular, India has been cooperating in the field of counter-terrorism with SCO’s Regional Counter/Anti-Terrorism Structure (RCTS/RATS), based in Tashkent.
Expansion of the SCO
- The Tashkent SCO Summit in June 2010 lifted the moratorium on new membership and paved the way for expansion of this regional grouping. The SCO has since been actively debating in various structured formats, the issue of expansion of the organization. It
is understood that once SCO takes a consensus view on admitting new members, the modalities/formalities to be followed shall be finalized in the subsequent stage. As reiterated at previous SCO Summits/meetings, India stands ready to become a full member of
SCO once the SCO Members finalise the expansion modalities. At the SCO Summit in Beijing in June, 2012, former EAM Shri S.M. Krishna said:
"As we have emphasized at various SCO fora, India would be happy to play a larger, wider and more constructive role in the SCO as a full member, as and when the organisation finalises the expansion modalities. We welcome the general trajectory of the SCO towards
expansion and redefinition of its role. We feel a wider and more representative SCO will be able to deal more effectively with the common challenges of security and development in our region”
- Some of the specific areas of interest to India, being discussed under the SCO umbrella include :
- The evolving security situation in Afghanistan
- Capacity building in the Central Asian region
- Connectivity with the Eurasian region
- Counter-terrorism and anti-narcotics
- Energy cooperation
- Enhancing economic and investment linkages