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There can be no justification for terrorism: EAM at SCO Meet

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New Delhi/Panaji: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said today that there can be no justification for terrorism and it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross border terrorism, in his address to SCO Foreign Ministers, with Pakistan’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari present in the room.

In his opening remarks at the Meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Goa, EAM Jaishankar also sought the support of member states for India’s long-standing demand to make English the third official language of the organisation.

In his address, EAM said that India attaches great importance to the development of multi-faceted cooperation in the SCO and to the promotion of peace, stability, economic development, prosperity and closer interaction between the countries of the grouping.

“As the chair of the SCO, PM Modi has articulated India’s priorities as moving towards a SECURE SCO. Secure stands for Security, Economic Development, Connectivity, Unity, Respect for Sovereignty and Integrity and Environmental protection. These have remained our priority in the course of our work as the chair of the SCO this year,” he said.

EAM Jaishankar said that India has successfully concluded more than 100 meetings and events, including 15 ministerial level meetings of the SCO, and has received enthusiastic participation from member states, as well as observers and dialogue partners of the grouping.

He said many of the events hosted by India were first time ones.

“It is gratifying to note that the further deepening of the bonds of friendship and cooperation in the SCO, and events like the SCO Millet Food Festival, Film festival, Cultural showcase at Surajkund Mela, the SCO Tourism Mart, conference on Shared Buddhist Heritage, were all successfully hosted by India.”

“I am particularly delighted that Varanasi as the first SCO cultural and tourist capital 2022-23 hosted several colourful events with active participation from member states.”

He said that India as SCO chair has initiated an unprecedented engagement with SCO observers and dialogue partners by inviting them to participate in more than 14 socio cultural events.

EAM said that following the Covid 19 pandemic and geo political upheavals, in reference to the Ukraine conflict, the world is today facing a multitude of challenges. “These events have disrupted global supply chains, leading to serious impact on the supply of energy, food and fertilisers, and cascading effect on developing nations. These crises have also exposed a credibility and trust deficit in the ability of global institutions to manage challenges in a timely and efficient manner,” he added.

“These challenges are, however, also an opportunity for member states of the SCO to collaborate and address them collectively.”

“With more than 40 percent of the world’s population within the SCO our collective decisions will surely have a global impact,” the EAM said, in a significant statement as the West is watching the growing relevance of the grouping that comprises Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, with Iran set to join as full member.

On terrorism, he said: “While the world was engaged in facing Covid and its consequences, the menace of terrorism continues unabated. Talking our eyes off this menace would be detrimental to our security interests. We firmly believe that there can be no justification for terrorism and it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross border terrorism.”

“The channel of finances for terrorist activities must be ceased and blocked without distinction. Members need not be reminded that combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of the SCO.”

On Afghanistan, he said that the unfolding situation in the neighbouring country remains at the centre of attention. “Our efforts should be directed towards the welfare of the Afghan people; our immediate priorities include providing humanitarian assistance, ensuring a truly inclusive and representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities.”

“India has always stood for multilateral approaches to address global challenges and has always been a willing partner to sharing our expertise and experience. In this regard, India’s own achievement in the field of startups and innovation is a remarkable journey.

“Today there are more than 70,000 startups in India, of which more than a 100 are unicorns. We stand ready to share our experience with member states.”

He also expressed gratitude for members who supported India’s proposal for creation of two new working groups– on startups and innovation and on traditional medicines last year.

“I am happy to that the regulations to operationalise these working groups have been approved by member states.”

EAM also called for reform of the SCO.

“SCO is in its third decade of existence, and this is an opportune time for its reform and modernisation to keep the organisation relevant in a rapidly transforming world. I am pleased to note that the discussions on the issues of reform and modernisation of the organisation have already commenced.”

“I assure you that India will extend its constructive and active support for this process,” he added.

On the inclusion of English, he said: “I also seek the support of member states for the long-standing demand of India to make English as the third official language of the organisation. This will enable deeper engagement with English-speaking member states of the SCO and will take the work of this organisation to a wider global audience.”

He said that there has been progress in the process for admitting Iran and Belarus as full members of the SCO.

He also expressed happiness that four new dialogue partners — Kuwait, UAE, Myanmar and the Maldives — would be signing agreements for their association with the SCO today.

“India has proposed a New Delhi Declaration as an SCO Summit declaration, and four other thematic joint statements, on cooperation in deradicalisation strategies, promotion of millets, sustainable lifestyles to address climate change, and digital transformation.

“I seek your support in timely finalisation of these documents for approval by our leaders at the SCO summit,” he added.

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