SCO virtually in New Delhi: Messages from the meet

India hosted a virtual meet of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, attended by the eight full members, as well as the addition of a new country—Iran

Members of the SCO in Russia, in 2018 (photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)
Members of the SCO in Russia, in 2018 (photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)

NH Digital

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held its first virtual meeting, with prime minister Narendra Modi chairing the conversation.

So how did the SCO members do vis-a-vis their motto of “in unity is strength”? Because heaven knows there are certainly some strained relationships in the 'room'.

The SCO meet had been attended by the heads of state of China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran represented by Ebrahim Raisi (President), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan represented by Sadyr Japarov (President), Tajikistan represented by Emomali Rehmon (President) and Uzbekistan represented by Shavkar Mirziyoyev (President) . Belarus is next in line for membership.

Here are some of the most significant, sometimes biting, things that the various leaders said:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi started the proceedings as a not-too-gracious host, with a sly dig at Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, saying, “Some countries use cross-border terrorism as [an] instrument in sync with their policy. SCO must not hesitate to criticise such countries.”

Kazakhstan president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in his turn, called for closer energy cooperation in the SCO. He said, “A new strategy should expand the SCO agenda, as concerns the most promising avenues of our interaction. The continued enhancement of the organisation's activities will become an important step toward properly responding to new challenges and adapting the SCO to new realities.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin assured the SCO countries that Russia was stable through its length and its breadth. In reference to the EU sanctions against Russia over its waging war upon Ukraine, Putin said, “Russia is confidently resisting and will continue to resist external pressure, sanctions, and provocations.” He also thanked the countries present for providing his country with the support that was needed through the Wagner mutiny and in the ongoing Russia–Ukraine war.

The country of Iran—which has been ridden with extensive riots as citizens struggle to secure their human rights and right to equality—was the newest addition to the permanent fold of the SCO, as it was formally inducted today. Welcoming the new nation to the table, Modi said, “I am happy that today Iran is going to join the SCO family as a new member. For this, I convey my best wishes to President Ebrahim Raisi and the people of Iran. Also, we welcome the signing of the memorandum of obligation for Belarus' SCO membership.”

Meanwhile, Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, called for effective cooperation to ensure “common sovereignty” in the region. He said, “China is willing to work with all parties to implement global security initiatives, [and] insist on resolving differences and conflicts.”

Pakistan's prime minister, in what may or may not have been a direct response to India, spoke of the nation's stand against terrorism and called to identify and subdue terrorism, whatever form it took. He said, “Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state terrorism, must be condemned in clear and unambiguous terms. There can be no justification for the killing of innocent people, regardless of the cause or pretext.”

Whether the state he was thinking of was a neighbour with a name beginning in I______ or C_______ , we won't venture to guess.

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