India to host SCO Heads of Government meet today

New Delhi: India is set to host the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in a virtual format on Monday, which will be chaired by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, the Ministry of External Affairs has said.

This is the first time that a Summit-level Meeting will be held under India’s Chairmanship since it gained full membership of the organisation in 2017, MEA said in a statement.

The Prime Ministers from the SCO Member States of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will attend the SCO meeting.

Pakistan will be represented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Apart from the SCO Member States, the four Observer States of SCO will also participate- including the President of Afghanistan, the First Vice President of Iran, the Prime Minister of Belarus, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia.

Turkmenistan has been invited as a Special Guest of the Host and will be represented by the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers. The two bodies of SCO will be represented by the SCO Secretary-General and the Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti Terrorist Structure (RATS). The Chairmen of the SCO Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association will also be present.

” India considers the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an important regional organization to promote cooperation in the areas of peace, security, trade, economy, and culture. India is committed to widening our cooperation with SCO by playing a proactive, positive, and constructive role in the organization,” the statement said.

India assumed the Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on November 2, 2019, as per rotation from the previous Chair – Uzbekistan and will complete its year-long tenure on November 30, 2020, by hosting the 19th session of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG).

During the course of our Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in 2020, India has particularly focused on creating three new pillars of cooperation: Startups and Innovation, Science and Technology, and Traditional Medicine and also proposed many other concrete initiatives. India has offered to create and Chair a new Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation and to set up a new Expert Working Group on Cooperation in Traditional Medicine.

India has also organised in the virtual format, the first-ever SCO Young Scientists Conclave(24-28 Nov) in which more than 200 young scientists participated, the first-ever Consortium of SCO Economic Think Tanks (Aug 20-21), and the first-ever SCO Startup Forum (Oct 27). In the B2B format, FICCI has convened the first SCO Business Conclave (Nov 23) with special emphasis on Cooperation in MSMEs through the national chapters of the SCO Business Council.

In this year, India has also hosted the meeting of SCO Ministers responsible for External Economy and Foreign Trade on October 28 and the meeting of SCO Ministers for Justice on 16th October in the video-conference format.

On the cultural- humanitarian side, India has implemented PM’s announcements made at the Bishkek Summit at the SCO Heads of State in 2019. They include: hosting the first-ever SCO Digital Exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage by the National Museum, which will be inaugurated on November 30, and the translation of 10 classics of Indian regional literature into Russian and Chinese languages. India has also proposed to host the SCO Food Festival in 2021.

“By Chairing the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on November 30, India hopes to further strengthen greater trade, economic and cultural cooperation within SCO by putting human beings at the center of SCO activities and to foster greater peace and prosperity in the region. We hope that India’s initiatives will not only be helpful for the SCO Member States in overcoming the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic but will also signal our continued commitment to strengthening the organization,” the statement said.

The Summit will end with the adoption of the Joint Communique under the Chairmanship of the Vice President of India.