The holy city of Varanasi showcasing India’s culture and traditions over the ages will be declared the first “Cultural and Tourism Capital” of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Varanasi will become the “Cultural and Tourism Capital” of the SCO for 2022-23 under a new rotating initiative by the eight-member organisation to promote people-to-people contacts and tourism among the member states.
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Under this initiative:
- Each year a city of the cultural heritage of a member country that will take over the rotating Presidency of the organisation will get the title to highlight its prominence.
- The organisation’s new initiatives ahead of this year’s Heads of the State summit of the SCO scheduled to be held at Samarkand in Uzbekistan on September 15-16 this year.
- The new initiative will come into force after the Samarkand summit following which India will take over the Presidency and host the next Heads of the State summit.
About the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation:
The Beijing-headquartered Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an eight-member economic and security alliance comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
The SCO is the successor to the Shanghai Five, a mutual security agreement formed in 1996 between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. On 15 June 2001, the leaders of these nations and Uzbekistan met in Shanghai to announce a new organisation with deeper political and economic cooperation; the SCO Charter was signed on 7 July 2002 and entered into force on 19 September 2003. Its membership has since expanded to eight states, with India and Pakistan joining on 9 June 2017. Several countries are engaged as observers or partners.