Text of Address at the Inaugural Session of the 2nd Sochi Eurasian Integration Forum on “Prospects for development and strengthening of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held on April 17, 2018 in Sochi, Russia
Mr Chairman and the Executive Secretary of the Organising Committee of the Second Sochi Eurasian Integration Forum, Konstantin Zatulin; Governor of Sochi Krasnodar Krai, Veniamin Kondratyev; Dy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Igor Morgulov; other distinguished eminences on and off the dais; ladies and gentlemen! Greetings to all of you from India.
Let me at the outset, take the opportunity to heartily congratulate President Putin for his spectacular win in the elections. He is a great leader with massive popular support across Russian Federation.
My special greetings to the current Chair of the SCO, President Xi Jinping of China on his re-election as the President of PRC and Chairman of CMC. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be traveling to China (Quingdao) in June to attend the meeting of Council of Heads of State.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
These three leaders – President Putin, President Xi and Prime Minister Modi – leading three great nations – Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China and Republic of India – are destined to be the global leaders in the 21st century. And SCO is the forum that has the potential to guide the 21st century world politics.
It is a matter of honour and delight for me to attend this Second Sochi Forum. India has become a full Member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – SCO – only last year. Prime Minister Modi was present at the conclave held at Astana in 2017 when this honour has been bestowed on India. We had been an observer for around a decade and closely watched the rapid rise of this Eurasian initiative in the last two decades.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Global power axis is shifting away from the Pacific-Atlantic region with the advent of the new millennium. Experts suggest that it is at the moment located somewhere around Iran-Afghanistan in the Eurasian region. It will further move to the East and settle down soon in the Indian Ocean region.
This tectonic shift in global power politics makes many 20th century institutions and alliances redundant and in their place shall emerge new alliances and institutions. Already a number of new alliances are taking shape, mostly in the Asian and Indian Ocean region. SCO too is one such 21st century alliance.
We ended the last century on a bitter note. Ideas of ‘Exclusivism’ and ‘Exceptionalism’ have left a number of bleeding spots in the region and beyond. The wounds are yet to heal, while fresh wounds are sought to be inflicted again. Countries that once prided over their great democratic value system and commitment to rule based global order are today seen going amok with their political-economic motives camouflaged in high-sounding, yet shallow words and slogans. The game of dishonouring and destabilising nations through unjust sanctions and unilateral wars is going on with impunity as the multilateral institutions look the other way.
This calls for a new initiative to manage rebalance in Eurasia and Asian continent. Countries like India, Russia and China can lead that initiative. Gradual weakening of the 20th century institutions shouldn’t lead to chaos and unilateralism in our region. We three countries have to come together to build new institutions and frameworks that uphold and promote rule based world order leading to peace and balance in the world.
Russia, China and India are not merely nations, but great civilisations as well. Our great civilisational values and virtues should guide us in formulating a new global power order that is based on justice, peace and sovereign equality. Western Exceptionalism shouldn’t give way in the new century to exceptionalism and superiority of another kind.
Indian Ocean is fast emerging as the new lifeline of global trade and power politics. At a time when the developed countries are facing serious economic downturn and resorting to protectionist policies, countries in the Asian continent are registering good economic growth. Some of the world’s fastest growing new economies are located in this region.
Eurasia’s future is intrinsically linked to connectivity, peace and stability in the region. On our part, India has accorded greater priority to helping land-locked countries like Afghanistan by way of improving connectivity. Our North South Corridor and Energy Bridge initiatives are designed to help member countries in the SCO through greater connectivity.
While pursuing this agenda, sensitivity, understanding and appreciation of the concerns of sovereignty and sovereign equality of the countries needs to be borne in mind. Multi-stakeholderism should be the guiding principle for us in these endeavours rather than unilateralism. Leaders of Russia, China and India should take the lead in pursuing this agenda of common good.
Parochial agendas have affected the sustainability of our campaigns against serious global threats like terrorism, climate change etc. 20th century deceptions like ‘My terrorist and Your terrorist’, ‘One country’s terrorist is another country’s freedom fighter’, ‘Good terrorist and bad terrorist’ etc shouldn’t have any place in this century. It must not be forgotten that like the Indian mythical demon ‘Bhasmasura’, who goes after the very gods who had created him, terrorism would not only hurt the neighbours, but the sponsors too.
While we all agree that religions don’t teach terrorism, and hence we can’t generalise that terrorism has any religion, it is equally important for us to mount a campaign to deny the terrorists the opportunity to use religion as justification, as that leads to influencing gullible people into taking to terror. Radicalisation, training of terrorists, terror funding and overground support structure for terrorists – all this needs to be tackled with a firm political will.
SCO-RATS is a forum that is designed to building a strong security architecture in the region. India, as a long time victim of terror, would be willing to play an active role together with other SCO countries in combating this global menace.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
The 21st century belongs to us. That puts a great responsibility on all of us. Unity in thought and collectivity in action should guide us in making the world a better place for our posterity. SCO is a great platform for all of us to pursue that noble mission.