SCO Secretary-General: “Since this day, the state flags of eight SCO member states fly around the emerald-blue flag of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.” The flags of India and Pakistan have been hoisted at the SCO Headquarters

The ceremony of raising the state flags of the two new SCO member states, the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

On 15 June 2017, the SCO Headquarters in Beijing hosted the ceremony of raising the state flags of the two new SCO member states, the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The ceremony was held as part of the celebrations dedicated to the 16th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The event was attended by Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China Kong Xuanyou, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov, extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassadors of member states, observer states and SCO dialogue partners, SCO Secretariat officials, and media representatives.

The SCO Secretary-General said in his opening remarks that "it is on this very day 16 years ago, at the juncture of two millennia, that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation appeared on the political map of the world. Good-neighbourliness and common development goals, these simple and clear principles of interstate relations enshrined in the Charter, have become the foundation of an organisation of a new type and turned the SCO into an effective factor of international life," Rashid Alimov said.

He reminded his audience that meeting in the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana, on 9 June, the leaders of the SCO founding states adopted a historic decision on accepting India and Pakistan as full members of the Organisation. "Today, on SCO Day, we have come to the SCO Headquarters to attend the ceremony of raising the state flags of India and Pakistan. From this day, the state flags of eight SCO member states united by the Shanghai Spirit will fly around the emerald-blue flag of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation," he said.

PRC Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou said in his remarks that the flag-raising ceremony was meant to show everyone that the SCO states were enthusiastic to start a new stage in its development. "The eight member states will march hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder under the aegis of the Shanghai Spirit based on the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity, and striving for joint development," he said. He called on the SCO family of states to continue and promote the good tradition of consolidation and mutual trust and to work together to enhance the Organisation's role in international and regional affairs.

"India's historical and cultural ties with countries in the region are centuries old and we value our protracted relations with each SCO member state. Today, as a permanent SCO member, we hope to promote these relations to achieve mutually beneficial cooperation," Indian Ambassador to the PRC Vijay Gokhale said.

Pakistani Ambassador to China Masood Khalid said 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 is on this very day that we undertook a commitment to jointly work within the framework of the SCO for the sake of universal development." He also conveyed his sincere gratitude to the SCO member states, the Secretary-General and his efficient team for their help and support extended throughout the process of Pakistan's accession to the SCO as a member state.

By striking the Shanghai Spirit sculpture's drum eight times (one for each SCO member state), the SCO Secretary-General, PRC Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the ambassadors of India and Pakistan finished the ceremony. The Secretary-General expressed hope that the soul-stirring drumbeats will reach to the farthest ends of the new SCO member states — India and Pakistan — and fill the atmosphere with the spirit of mutual understanding and friendship.

At the end of the ceremony, the SCO Secretary-General, PRC Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the ambassadors of the eight member states posed for a photograph at SCO Charter Hall.

The ceremony of raising the state flags of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was aired on the SCO official account in Weibo social network, with the number of online visits reaching 1,610,000.