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Statement by External Affairs Minister at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of State Summit 2014 in Dushanbe.

September 12, 2014

Your Excellency, President Emomali Rahmon,

Distinguished Heads of State

Secretary General of the SCO,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is a great honour for me to represent my country at this august gathering of world leaders. Let me thank the Government and the friendly people of Tajikistan for their gracious hospitality and warm welcome. I bring good wishes from my President and Prime Minister and from the people of India to our friends in the SCO region.

2. A new Government has taken office in India in May this year, backed by strong public support and a mandate for positive change. We have today imparted a new energy and momentum to our ties with our immediate and extended neighbourhood. Our Government is ready to step up its engagement with the SCO and contribute more meaningfully to its activities. In keeping with this objective, we have submitted our formal application for the full membership of the SCO to the current SCO Chair. We hope to lay the foundation of a new relationship with the SCO region which will draw strength from our ancient links, while preparing us together to address the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.

Excellencies,

3. As an observer for almost a decade, India has closely followed the evolution of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. We deeply appreciate the SCO’s constructive and valuable role in promoting peace and prosperity in our region. We admire its contribution both to regional economic development and regional stability. We have strong and friendly relations with every country of the SCO family, and have proactively participated in various SCO fora. For instance, Indian businessmen participated in the SCO business forum for the first time two days ago. This year, we also participated in the first meeting of the SCO energy club. We are also greatly encouraged by the visit of the dynamic SCO Secretary General to New Delhi in February this year, when he persuaded us to participate in more SCO events. Following that, India also participated usefully, in the meeting of National Coordinators of SCO Member States, where Observers were invited for the first time in the 6 + 5 format.

4. India has articulated a 'Connect-Central Asia' policy in recent years, to realize our vision of a region connected closely by its common aspiration for a better life for its peoples. India is already engaged with several SCO member states in diverse areas such as capacity building and human resource development, information technology, pharmaceuticals and health care, small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurship development. We wish to bring to the table our technical expertise, markets and financial commitment, all of which equip us to fulfill greater responsibilities in this forum. We would specifically like to share our experience in economic areas like banking, capital markets and micro-finance.

Excellencies,

5. India has long been a victim of terrorism. We are acutely aware of the threat that its perpetrators pose to our people, as also to our common region. We are seeing different theaters getting interconnected through terror networks and a globalization of the supply chain of ideology, radicalization, recruitment, training and financing of terrorism. This requires a resolute and more comprehensive response from the international community. We are of the firm view that only multilateral efforts and integrated actions can help effectively counter these negative forces including the related evils of drug trafficking and small arms proliferation. In this context, we are keen to deepen our security-related cooperation with the SCO in general and with the Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure, in particular.

6. India is concerned about the security challenges which may emanate from the developing situation in Afghanistan. India strongly believes that Afghanistan can successfully complete the security, political and economic transitions and regain its historical place as a hub for regional trade and transit routes. However, at this time of delicate transition, the international community must stand united to support Afghanistan to preserve the progress it has made in the last decade against terrorism and related threats to its national wellbeing. I had the privilege of visiting Afghanistan two days ago and had fruitful discussions with President Karzai. I can see that Afghanistan aspires to bring peace and prosperity to its people, just like every other SCO country does. India remains committed to assisting Afghanistan in building its capacity for democratic government, security and economic development. We see the SCO not only as an important body that can offer a credible alternative regional platform to discuss the challenges related to Afghanistan, but also a strong multilateral force that can become a partner in its progress.

7. This Summit of the SCO is taking place at a crucial juncture in global politics, with many nations facing violence and conflict. We need to reflect collectively on all these events of deep geo-political significance. India is deeply concerned at the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria. We need to evolve a common strategy to safeguard the borders in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries from any spillover effect of these conflicts.

8. In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would like to once again thank the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan for the wonderful arrangements. I take this opportunity to wish the people of Tajikistan continued peace and prosperity in the coming years and congratulate Your Excellency for successfully organising this important Summit.

9. I also congratulate the President of the Russian Federation on taking over the chairmanship of this important organisation and wish him all success in organising SCO's activities in the year ahead.

Thank you.

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