The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation foreign ministers meet: Basics Explained

Foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) had meeting in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent, The meeting was part of preparations for the SCO Summit to be held in Samarkand in mid-September.

Addressing a meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent, Indian foreign minister Jaishankar emphasized the need for a “zero tolerance” approach towards all forms of terrorism.

The external affairs minister tweeted that he reiterated India’s position on Afghanistan and “highlighted our humanitarian support: wheat, medicines, vaccines, and clothing”. He also underlined the “potential of Chabahar port for SCO’s economic future”.


SCO, pan-Eurasian grouping, is a consortium of select Asian nations that focuses on security and trade. The SCO has eight member countries which represent around 42% of the world’s population and 20% of the global GDP.

The SCO emerged from Shanghai Five (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) which was founded in 1996 after demarcation of China’s borders with the four newly independent States that appeared after collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This was transformed into today’s SCO with the induction of Uzbekistan as a new member at the Shanghai summit in 2001.

India, along with Pakistan, assumes full membership of SCO during  Summit meeting in Astana(2017), Kazhakstan.They became seventh and eighth members of the SCO. India was admitted into the SCO as an observer at the 2005 Astana Summit along with Iran and Pakistan.

Four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).

In 2021, the decision was made to start the accession process of Iran to the SCO as a full member, and Egypt, Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia became dialogue partners.

Since its inception in 2001, the SCO has mainly focused on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. To date, the SCO’s priorities also include regional development.


The SCO region covers almost 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass, with over 1.5 billion people included in its population, including some of the world’s leading energy-rich nations. So its importance is likely to grow in the coming years;

India’s growing stakes in Central Asia too are well-recognized. For India, therefore, a membership in the SCO is primarily its gateway to Central Asia. India is hoping to be able to access trade and transit routes between Russia and China, which pass through Central Asian countries;

Joining the SCO will be a welcome diplomatic boost to India’s efforts to connect with Central Asia;

Central Asia is part of India’s extended neighborhood. India’s membership in the SCO will provide a welcome opportunity for India’s leadership to meet with their counterparts from Central Asia, Russia, China, Afghanistan, and others regularly and frequently;

India’s potential participation in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will be an added advantage to make this partnership more fruitful;

On the security front, the SCO remains committed to fighting the so-called “three evils” of terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism. Here too there is much room for cooperation, as India has been a victim of terrorist attacks;

India could gain from SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure – manned by 30 professionals analysing key intelligence inputs on the movements of terror outfits, drug-trafficking, cyber security threats and public information. Likewise, participation in SCO’s counter-terror exercises and military drills could be beneficial to the Indian armed forces;

There is potential of profiting in terms of energy security;

SCO membership provides India a vital counter to some of the other groupings it is a part of, balancing out its stated policy of pursuing “multi-alignments”. It is a platform also for alignments on issues such as energy security, connectivity and trade.


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