Today Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hosting an online summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The summit, under India’s presidency, will bring together leaders from member countries, including China’s President Xi Jinping, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif, and others. The SCO, an intergovernmental organization focused on political, economic, and security cooperation, will discuss key topics such as the situation in Afghanistan, the Ukraine conflict, and strategies to boost connectivity and trade. Notably, the summit will mark the inclusion of Iran as a new permanent member of the organization.
SCO Summit and Its Key Participants:
The virtual summit, hosted by India, will serve as a platform for leaders from SCO member countries to engage in discussions. Notable participants include Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and other SCO leaders. This summit marks Putin’s first appearance at an international event since Russia suppressed an armed rebellion by Wagner mercenaries in June.
Key Topics for Discussion:
The summit will address several important topics, including the situation in Afghanistan, the Ukraine conflict, and increased cooperation among member countries. Participants will also deliberate on strategies to enhance connectivity and trade. The inclusion of Iran as a new permanent member will be a significant development, as it intensifies its diplomatic efforts to reduce isolation, improve the economy, and project strength.
Welcoming Iran and Belarus:
The SCO summit will officially welcome Iran as a new permanent member of the organization. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed Iran’s full membership approval at the summit. Iran believes that this membership will have positive effects on economic development between member nations. Additionally, Belarus, which currently holds observer status, will sign a memorandum of obligations, paving the way for its future membership in the SCO.
Expected Outcomes and Participation:
The virtual summit will be attended by heads of the SCO secretariat and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO RATS). In addition to SCO member countries, the summit has invited heads of six international and regional organizations, including the UN, ASEAN, CIS, CSTO, EAEU, and CICA. The participation of these organizations signifies the importance of collaboration and multilateral engagement.
Significance of the SCO:
The SCO has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organizations, focusing on economic and security matters. Last year in September, India assumed the rotating chairmanship of the SCO. The summit’s theme, “Towards a SECURE SCO,” emphasizes key aspects such as security, economy and trade, connectivity, unity, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the environment.
India’s Diplomatic Role:
India finds itself navigating a delicate diplomatic landscape as it holds the presidency of both the SCO and the G20 while balancing the strained relations between Western nations and the Russia-China partnership. India has refrained from assigning blame to Russia for the Ukraine conflict, leading to increased bilateral trade. The SCO summit provides an opportunity for India to address regional concerns and promote dialogue and diplomacy.
As India hosts the virtual Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, the focus will be on addressing regional security concerns, enhancing connectivity, and promoting trade among member countries. The inclusion of Iran as a new permanent member and the potential membership of Belarus will further expand the organization’s reach and influence. India’s role as the host provides an opportunity to navigate complex diplomatic relations and promote dialogue among the SCO member nations. The outcomes of the summit will shape the future direction of the organization and its role in the evolving geopolitical landscape.