Dhaka Courier

Shanghai Cooperation Summit

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Tajikistan President Imomali Rakhmon, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Qingdao. | AP

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), or Shanghai Pact,[  is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai, by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan known as “the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter,” formally establishing the organization,  as the Charter was signed in June 2002 and entered into force on 19 September 2003.

The original five nations, with the exclusion of Uzbekistan, were previously members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on 26 April 1996. Since then, the organisation has expanded its membership to eight countries when India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO, it meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation. Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.  Criticisms of the SCO include that it is used by member states to shield each other from international criticism regarding human rights violations.

The SCO is widely regarded as the "alliance of the East", due to its growing centrality in Asia-Pacific, and has been the primary security pillar of the region.[5][6] It is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population, covering three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and nearly half of the human population.

The Bishkek summit has brought together leaders of the eight SCO member states -- Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan. Leaders from Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia were also attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on June-13-14.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13th June arrived in the Kyrgyz capital (Bishkek) for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, the first multilateral engagement post his re-election.

 Modi, in a statement before his two-day visit to Bishkek on June 13-14, said that on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, he also reportedly plans to meet several leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.  “We attach special importance to SCO in promoting multilateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction in the region. India has actively participated in various SCO dialogue mechanisms since its full membership of SCO two years ago,” he said on 12th June.

India has extended full cooperation to the chairmanship of the Kyrgyz Republic over the past year, Modi said. “The summit is expected to discuss the global security situation, multilateral economic cooperation, people-to-people exchanges and topical issues of international and regional importance. On the sidelines of the summit, I also plan to meet several leaders bilaterally,” he said.  External Affairs Ministry (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that it is Prime Minister Modi’s first multilateral engagement post his re-election.

“Strengthening India’s presence on the global stage, for the 1st multilateral engagement, had reportedly embarked on a two-day visit to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Council of Heads of State meeting on 13-14 June 2019 in Bishkek,” he reportedly said on Twitter.

“The SCO Summit will be followed by the bilateral component of the visit to Kyrgyz Republic on 14 June. PM Modi India-Kyrgyz Business Forum with Kyrgyz President,” Kumar said in another tweet.

It is reported that no bilateral meetings had been planned between Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan except pleasanties on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.

“On the invitation of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, I will also be on an official bilateral visit to the Kyrgyz Republic on 14 June 2019, after conclusion of the SCO Summit,” Modi said.

India and the Kyrgyz Republic, bound by historical and civilisational links, share traditionally warm and friendly relations. “In recent times, our relations have expanded in several areas of bilateral engagement, including defence, security, trade and investment,” Modi reportedly said.  “Apart from our discussions on the entire range of bilateral cooperation, President Jeenbekov and I would jointly address the first meeting of India-Kyrgyz Business Forum.  “I am confident that my visit to the Kyrgyz Republic will further strengthen and consolidate our cooperation with the SCO member countries and with the Kyrgyz Republic,” Modi added.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh does not remain idle.  The country’s President  Honourable  Abdul Hamid had arrived on  12 June (2019) at Dushambe (capital Tajikistan) had a meeting with the President of Tajikstan Emomali Rahmon and both the Presidents had stressed the formation of a “ Joint Working Group” between the two countries to enhance cooperation and confidence building measures between the two nations including strong actions on terrorism.

President Hamid and his counterpart of Tajikstan stressed the need of exchange of business leaders of the two nations and it is reported that President Hamid has been scheduled to visit Uzbekistan on June 16 and return home on 19 June.

Experts say that there were immense opportunities and substantive including business of cooperation between the two nations. Their cooperation is likely to have positive impact on Bangladesh.

Barrister Harun ur Rashid, Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.

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