Krishna arrives in Kazakhstan to attend SCO Summit
June 14. New Kerala. Astana
By Praful Kumar Singh
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna arrived in Kazakhstan capital Astana this afternoon to attend a summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be held on June 15.
Krishna was received at Astana Airport by his Kazakh counterpart Kanat Saudabayev, Kazkahstan’s Vice Minister for Oil Berik Tolumbaev and India’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan Ashok Kumar Sharma.
Earlier, speaking onboard his special aircraft while traveling to Astana, Krishna said that he was looking forward to his two-day visit to the Kazakh capital and the SCO deliberations.
“SCO is an association of countries where we get a platform to understand each other better and exchange notes about our perceptions of the region, and in that process, this grouping of six countries, India attaches considerable importance,” Krishna said. The theme of the Astana SCO summit is building a consensus and consolidating solidarity. Leaders of the SCO member states will map out a blueprint for the organization for the next decade.
India, Iran and Pakistan have applied for full membership of the regional grouping.
SCO member states will adopt a memorandum on the obligations of membership applicants after which the grouping will formally start consultations with India and other states on acquiring full membership in the organisation.
The SCO was founded in 2001 in Shanghai, which comprises the member states of China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia have observer status, while Belarus and Sri Lanka are ranked as dialogue partners. Mongolia received observer status in 2001 while Pakistan, India and Iran became observers in 2002.
In 2009, the SCO created a new category of dialogue partners and within that rubric invited Belarus and Sri Lanka for the first time at the Yekaterinburg summit. In June 2010, at the Tashkent summit, the SCO again decided to lift the moratorium on expansion of the forum and approved the ‘regulations on the procedure for admitting new members in SCO’.
It is understood that SCO Secretariat which was established in Beijing in January 2004, is now engaged in working out a model draft on ‘memorandum of obligations’ which would be applicable to new members.
Afghanistan’s application for observer status is being studied and will also be discussed at the upcoming summit.
The SCO has been successful in its management of security issues especially in non-traditional areas, such as drug trafficking.
The SCO is an inter-governmental international organization and its member states cover an area of over 30 million square kilometres with population of about nearly about 50 percent of world’s population.
Krishna will be attending the 11th SCO Summit in Astana. India became an observer in SCO in 2005 and in the very first year then Foreign Minister represented India both at the Council of Heads of States and later in the Council of Heads of Governments.
“We regard SCO as an important regional forum addressing itself to a wide range of issues in our Eurasian region, including security, counter-terrorism, narco-trafficking and trans-border organized crime. SCO member states and observers comprise close to 50 percent of the global population and occupy half of the entire globe. Naturally developments in SCO impact not only the region but are felt far beyond,” said Vishnu Prakash, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson.
Ever since becoming an observer in 2005, India has participated actively and constructively and for the first time in 2009, Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh at the invitation of Russia attended the SCO Summit at Yekaterinburg.
The SCO Council of Heads of States and Governments meets every year. In addition they also have regular annual meetings at the levels of Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers and Finance Ministers besides the Trade, Transport, and Culture Ministers meetings. India started attending Trade, Transport and Cultural Ministers meetings since 2009 as an observer.