June 16, 2009
I am delighted to be here today at the Summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. I bring to you the greetings of the government and people of India.
I have had the honour of visiting the great country of Russia on several occasions in the past. On each occasion I have been overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality that has been extended to me. This is however a special occasion. It is my first visit overseas after our Government was re-elected to office following the recent general elections in India.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation represents a vast land mass rich in cultural diversity, creativity and resources. India has the privilege of having excellent bilateral relations with each of the Members of the Organisation. Our relations with them go back in time. They rest on solid civilisational, cultural and economic linkages that have flourished over centuries.
As an Observer State, we have been following the evolution of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation with keen interest. We wish to see peace, prosperity and stability in the region that the Organisation represents. We have many complementarities and have a lot to gain and learn from each other. It is in this spirit that we approach our engagement with the Organisation and its different organs and bodies.
The growth of the Indian economy at an average rate of 8 percent over the last five years has enabled us to generate higher investible resources to cater to the needs of our rural economy, the social sector and infrastructure. It has also opened up opportunities to intensify our interaction with the outside world in the areas of trade and investment, science and technology, and in the revival of the global economy.
We seek an external environment that is conducive to meeting the aspirations of our people. Against this background, the Russian Presidency's initiative to focus on the themes of regional security and sustainable development is most appropriate.
The threats we face to our security are global in nature, and require a global response. The prevalence of poverty and under-development in large parts of the world continues to threaten global stability. We believe that with the resources available with us, the SCO and India can mutually reinforce each other's efforts towards the economic emancipation of our region. We would be happy to share with our friends in the SCO the experiences we have gained over the years in various sectors of nation-building.
There is a lot to be gained through strengthening connectivity between the SCO and India. We would like to cooperate in finding innovative means to strengthen people-to-people contacts, exchanges of businesspersons and scholars, and trade, investment and technology flows. We would welcome closer cooperation in the fields of energy and food security, and infrastructure development.
The spectre of terrorism, extremist ideologies and illicit drug trafficking haunts our region. Terrorist crimes committed today are transnational in nature. No country is immune from them. It is imperative that we genuinely cooperate with one another and on a global scale to resolutely defeat international terrorism.
The issue of stability in Afghanistan is one that is engaging all of us keenly. I wish to congratulate the Russian Presidency of the SCO for organizing a successful conference on Afghanistan in March this year. India is committed to contributing to international efforts for the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan, and promoting stability in that country.
The economic gains that we have made in the past are today threatened by the global financial and economic crisis. We should convert this crisis into an opportunity for much greater economic cooperation between the Members of the SCO and India. Between us we have a vast market, a large industrial base, a talented human resource base and above all, the political will. We should also work together to reform the institutions of global governance, including financial institutions, to bring them in tune with present and emerging economic realities.
We can no longer delay giving concrete shape to the concept of sustainable development. The developing world needs access to financial resources and environment friendly technologies, especially in energy, transportation, manufacturing and agriculture. We need technology innovations for reduction of energy use by industry and other sectors. We need massive action for afforestation, drought proofing and flood protection. We need action to protect the glaciers that feed our river systems.
In conclusion, let me say that as a close neighbour, we wish the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation all success in its multi-faceted activities.
I also wish to convey our deep appreciation to His Excellency President Medvedev for conducting this meeting in an exemplary manner and for the excellent arrangements made by the Government of the Russian Federation for the Summit.