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Foreign Ministers of SCO member countries meet in Goa

Foreign Ministers of SCO member countries meet

The foreign ministers of eight member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) are meeting in Goa on May 4 and 5. This meeting will set the stage for the SCO Leaders’ Summit to be held in July in New Delhi. India, the host country, attaches special importance to the SCO in promoting multilateral, political, security, economic, and people-to-people interactions in the region.

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India’s Chairmanship of SCO in 2023:

India’s theme for its Chairmanship of SCO in 2023 is ‘SECURE-SCO’. The country has been persistent in pushing for the strengthening of collaboration on issues pertaining to regional security, defence, and combating terrorism, among others. On the agenda for the SCO under India’s presidency will be the modernisation of the grouping with a focus on advanced technology and digital infrastructure. The agenda also includes discussions with regional counterparts on various regional, security, and political issues.

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Adding English as an Official Language:

Since becoming a full member of the SCO in 2017, India has been pushing the bloc to add ‘English’ as an official language of communication. The first such proposal was placed in 2020, necessitated by the inclusion of India and Pakistan as full members to a grouping that has had only Russian and Mandarin as the official and working languages of the bloc. The Russian language is widely used in the six Central Asian nations that founded the bloc.

Tentative Program:

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The foreign ministers and their delegations arrived in Goa on May 4. All the delegations are staying at the Taj Exotica in Benaulim, where the meetings are taking place. S Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister, is hosting a dinner for the visiting dignitaries. The official engagements began on May 5 with the arrival of foreign ministers and heads of delegations at the meeting venue, followed by a group photo. The meeting of the council of foreign ministers (CFM) began in the morning, and by noon the ‘decision document’ was signed, followed by a working lunch. The event concluded with the signing of a Memorandum with New Dialogue Partners. The leaders then held various bilateral meetings with their respective counterparts from other nations.

SCO Council of National Coordinators Meet:

The SCO Council of National Coordinators met from April 29 to May 3 in Panaji, India, chaired by India. They exchanged views on the preparations for the meetings of the SCO Heads of State Council and the SCO Heads of Government Council, as well as on other aspects of the organisation’s activities. The parties reviewed and agreed on the main draft documents to be submitted for signature at the Ministerial Council meeting.

About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):

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The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a regional intergovernmental organization established in 2001 in Shanghai, China.

Key points about SCO include:

  1. Members: The SCO comprises eight member states – China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

  2. Observer States: The SCO also has four observer states – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia.
  3. Goals: The SCO aims to promote cooperation among member states on issues such as regional security, economic development, and cultural exchange.
  4. Official languages: The official languages of the SCO are Russian and Mandarin, and several member states have called for English to be added as an official language.
  5. Decision-making: The SCO makes decisions through consensus among member states, and does not interfere in each other’s internal affairs.
  6. Focus areas: The SCO has focused on a range of issues, including combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, promoting economic cooperation, and developing transport and communication infrastructure.
  7. Expansion: The SCO has expanded since its founding, adding India and Pakistan as full members in 2017.
  8. Leadership: The chairmanship of the SCO rotates annually among member states, and India is holding the chairmanship in 2023.

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