As part of the celebration of the SCO's 16th anniversary, a solemn ceremony of raising the national flags of two new member states of the Organization, the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, passed at the Organization's headquarters in Beijing on June 15.
Assistant Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China Kun Xuanwu, SCO Secretary General R. Alimov, extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassadors of the member states, observers and partners in the SCO dialogue, officials of the SCO Secretariat and representatives of the media attended the event.
Opening the ceremony, the SCO Secretary General noted that "it was on this day 16 years ago that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization appeared on the political map of the world at the crossroads of two millennia. Neighborliness and unity of the development goals, these simple and clear principles of interstate relations laid down in the Charter have become the fundamental basis of the new type of Organization and have transformed the SCO into a real factor of international life," R. Alimov said.
SCO Secretary General recalled that the leaders of the founding states of the SCO made a historic decision to accept India and Pakistan as full-fledged members of the Organization on June 9 in the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Astana. Today, on the day of the SCO, we gathered at the headquarters of the Organization for the solemn ceremony of raising the national flags of India and Pakistan. Henceforth, around the emerald-blue flag of the SCO, the national flags of the eight member states of the Organization, united by the "Shanghai spirit", will fly, R. Alimov said.
In his speech, the Assistant Foreign Minister of China noted that solemn ceremony of raising the flags of the new SCO member states is intended to show everyone that the Organization's countries are enthusiastically starting a new stage in its development. "Eight member states will continue to walk hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, under the auspices of the Shanghai spirit, based on which there are the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultation, respect for diversity of cultures and the desire for joint development", - said the Assistant Foreign Minister. He called on the states of the "SCO family" to continue and develop a good tradition of cohesion and mutual trust, together to strengthen the role of the Organization in international and regional affairs.
"The historical and cultural ties of India with the countries of the region go back centuries, and we appreciate our continued relationship with every member state of the SCO. Today, being a permanent participant of the Organization, we hope to develop these relations in order to achieve mutually beneficial cooperation," said Indian Ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale.
Ambassador of Pakistan to China Masood Khalil noted that "today's ceremony of raising the flag of Pakistan symbolizes the beginning of a new path for the country. It will remind us in the future that it was on this day that we committed ourselves to working within the SCO framework together for common development." The Ambassador also conveyed his sincere gratitude to the SCO member states, the Secretary General and his effective team for the help and support that was provided throughout the process of the procedure for accepting Pakistan into the SCO as a member state.
The SCO Secretary General, the Assistant Foreign Minister of China and the Ambassadors of India and Pakistan finished the ceremony with eight blows to the drum (according to the number of Member States) of the sculptural composition "Shanghai Spirit". The Secretary General expressed the hope that soulful sound of the drum would reach the farthest frontiers of the new Member States of India and Pakistan, filling the atmosphere with a spirit of mutual understanding and friendship.
The solemn ceremony completed with joint photographs of the SCO Secretary General, Assistant Foreign Minister of China and the Ambassadors of eight SCO member states and the SCO Charter Hall.
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