Amid significant global developments including the Ukraine conflict and the Taiwan strait crisis, the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is set to begin on Friday.
Prior to the Summit, Samarkand has been in festive mood with Uzbek authorities throwing a party for the delegates where Indian songs ‘Jimmy Jimmy aaja aaja aaja’ and ‘I am a disco dancer’s were prominently played.
The SCO is a regional multilateral organization that has 8 Member States, namely India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
During the Summit, the leaders are expected to review the organization’s activities over the past two decades and discuss the state and prospects of multilateral cooperation in the future.
They will deliberate on regional security challenges, boosting trade and energy supplies among other issues.
The SCO was set up in June 2001 and India became a full member in 2017.
The Council of the SCO Heads of State is the highest decision-making body of the Organization, and meets for an annual summit that is hosted by a Member State by rotation.
Uzbekistan is the current Chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived here on Thursday, has been leading the Indian delegation to the SCO Summit every year since India became its full member in 2017.
During the last two Summits in 2020 and 2021, the Prime Minister participated in virtual format. Samarkand, being the first in-person Summit after the Covid pandemic hit the world, is witnessing full physical format participation by all leaders.
After the Council of Heads of State, the Council of Heads of Government is the second most important mechanism of SCO, and deals with the trade, economy and cultural agenda of the organization. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of SCO is another important mechanism of the organization.
The Summit has two sessions – a Restricted session only for SCO Member States and an Extended session that will also include participation by Observers.
The heads of the two permanent bodies of SCO – Secretary General of the SCO Secretariat and Director of SCO RATS will be present in both sessions.
Discussions during the Summit are expected to cover topical, regional and international issues, eform and expansion of SCO, strengthening connectivity as well as boosting trade and tourism in the region.
A Samarkand Declaration and numerous other documents are expected to be finalized during the Summit.
Addressing a special briefing on the SCO Summit, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s participation in the Summit is a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO and its goals.
“This is also tied to our approach and engagement with that region as a whole. As you aware, we hosted the first India – Central Asia Summit earlier this year, preceded by a Foreign Minister level meeting. We remain focused on strengthening our linkages with Central Asia and the extended neighbourhood, and this visit will take this vision forward,” he said.