22nd Summit of the SCO

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    In News 

    Recently,Samarkand hosted the 22nd Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation for its member states and Council of Heads 

    • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SCO Summit was cancelled in the last two years.

    Samarkand 

    • It is located in the Zarefshan River valley in the Southeastern region of Uzbekistan.
    • The name Samarkand is derived from the Sogdian civilisation, where Samar means stone or rock and Khand means fort. Thus, Samarkand means a town or fort of rock or stone. 
    • Samarkand is the country’s cultural capital and has always been an intrinsic part of world culture for more than two and a half millennia.

    Major Highlights 

    • Member States stressed the need to increase mutually beneficial cooperation in the energy sector, including efficient use of all types of energy resources, and support the application of various efficient economically and environmentally friendly technologies .
    • They advocated the further development of modern logistics centres and joint action to coordinate and facilitate the interconnection of railway infrastructure, docking policies and regulations, scientific and technological innovation and capacity-building.
    • They supported the leading role of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in global health governance, including in protecting public health from threats of infectious disease epidemics in accordance with the WHO International Health Regulations (2005).
    • They advocated strengthening the potential of technoparks, joining efforts to develop the innovation ecosystem, conducting joint research and development.
    • They stressed the impact of COVID-19 on the dynamics of economic growth processes in the SCO region. 
    • They called for full compliance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC) as an effective disarmament and non- proliferation instrument.
    • Iran has signed a memorandum of commitments to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), giving boost to India’s focus on an inclusive connectivity agenda in the Eurasian region that would function parallel to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    India Specific 

    • Separate bilateral meetings: After the summit, the Prime Minister of India had separate bilateral meetings with the Russian President, Uzbekistan  President and Iranian President.
    • PM Narendra Modi called on the SCO to develop reliable and resilient supply chains to offset the disruptions caused by Covid-19 and the Ukraine crisis and said better connectivity and granting “full rights” of transit facilities by member states is important to achieve the goal.
    • Indian -Turkey :The leaders reviewed bilateral relations and appreciated recent gains in bilateral trade. 
    • The city of Varanasi has been nominated as the first-ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital during the period 2022-2023 

    Indian opportunities at the SCO:

    • India became a full member in 2017. 
    • Since joining SCO as a full member, India has been making positive contributions to the SCO processes, deliberations and its outcomes. 
    • India has already made significant efforts to enhance cooperation in traditional medicine, science and technology, and startups and innovation. 
    • This edition of SCO also becomes important in the light of India assuming rotational annual presidency of the SCO at the end of the summit.
    • SCO can also be a vocal platform for New Delhi to push the agenda of regional and cross-regional connectivity that could force Pakistan to moderate its views and approach to linking Central Asia and South Asia. 
    • It can also be a platform where India can push for the Chabahar port project and International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

    Concerns /Challenges

    • There are new lines of fracture emerging within SCO  as there is growing unease among the member states at the continuing conflict in Ukraine. 
    • Many states, especially the former republics of the Soviet Union, are deeply anxious about Russia doing an “Ukraine” on them. 
    • These republics are looking to establish other partnerships — especially with China and Turkey, and to a lesser extent with India  to enhance their strategic autonomy from Putin’s Russia and safeguard their sovereignty and territorial integrity. 
    • Managing the affairs of the SCO that has been long dominated by Russia and China would have been challenging for India at any time, but the current turbulence will make it even harder for Delhi. 

     Future Prospects 

    • India must devote full attention in the coming year of its SCO presidency to push through new connectivity initiatives with Eurasia. 
    • The entry of Iran into the forum opens the door for greater connectivity; so does the mobilisation of regional support for transit to Central Asia through Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    • The churn in Eurasia offers India new opportunities to raise its current limiting standing in the region.

    SCO 

    • The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional  international organisations. 
    • The Council of the SCO Heads of State is the highest decision making body of the organisation and meets for an annual summit that is hosted by a member state of the SCO. 
    • India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

     

    Mains Practise Question 

    [Q] What are the aims and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?What importance does it hold for India?