With the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers listening, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Thursday said BRICS must live up to its commitments on “sovereign equality, territorial integrity and international law”.
His remarks at the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting came amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on which India maintains that territorial integrity and international law must be respected. On the border standoff with China, New Delhi has consistently underlined the importance of territorial integrity and sovereignty.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the foreign ministers “discussed the situation in Ukraine and supported talks between Russia and Ukraine”, adding they also expressed concern at the energy and food security implications of the conflict. But it did not condemn Russia for its actions or talk about respect for territorial integrity.
The foreign ministers’ meeting sets the stage for the BRICS leaders’ meeting, which is expected to take place virtually in the second half of June.
Jaishankar, said at Thursday’s meeting: “We must not only seek socio-economic recovery from the Covid pandemic, but also create resilient and reliable supply chains.”
“Knock-on effects of the Ukraine conflict have led to sharp increases in the costs of energy, food and commodities. This must be mitigated for the sake of the developing world,” he said.
He said: “BRICS has repeatedly affirmed respect for sovereign equality, territorial integrity and international law. We must live up to these commitments.”
The meeting was attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Alberto Franco França, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Grace Naledi. The meeting was hosted by China.
In his remarks, Sergey Lavrov presented in detail fundamental assessments of the development of the situation in Ukraine and the “special military operation”, the Russian Embassy said.
“BRICS should unanimously and specifically support UN Security Council reform,” Jaishankar said.
“Together, we should press for credible commitment of resources by developed nations for climate action and climate justice,” he said, taking on the Western countries.
“BRICS must display zero tolerance for terrorism, especially cross border terrorism,” he said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan.
Later, the External Affairs Minister also participated in the BRICS foreign ministers’ dialogue with emerging markets and developing countries.
India maintained its balancing act on Ukraine as it attended the BRICS meeting. While Jaishankar spoke about territorial integrity, the MEA chose to skip it in its statement on the meeting. It, instead, called for talks between Russia and Ukraine.
He said, “International organisations must see real change, not just new terminology. A rebalanced and multipolar world should lead to reformed multilateralism.”
He again raised the issue of terrorism. “Terrorism in all forms and manifestations should be condemned. We must crackdown on all support, including financing.”
The minister said: “The Covid pandemic followed by the Ukraine conflict is causing enormous socio-economic hardships in the developing world. We need resilient and reliable supply chains, economic decentralisation.”
“Global recovery should advance food and energy security and prioritise health, digital and green growth,” he said.
The MEA said the BRICS foreign ministers supported the call for advancing the process of reform and greater representation of developing countries in the international organisations and multilateral fora, including the UN and its Security Council, so that they could play an important role in global governance.
“They reiterated that the BRICS countries shall continue work together to contain the spread and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and supported the leading role of the WHO in combating the pandemic; the importance of the ongoing discussions in the WTO including on TRIPS waiver proposal; and called for the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” it said.
“The ministers exchanged views on furthering intra-BRICS cooperation on the three pillars of political and security, economic and finance, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. In this regard, they recalled the adoption in 2021 of the revised terms of reference for guiding BRICS engagement,” the MEA said.
Terming the BRICS grouping as a “positive, inspiring and constructive force”, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday said the five-member bloc should help to stabilise the world rocked by turbulence and put forward his Global Security Initiative (GSI) to promote common security for all countries.
Delivering a video address at the opening session of the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting which was also attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Xi said, “As a positive, inspiring and constructive force in the international community, the BRICS countries need to firm up belief, brave the storms and waves, and take real action to promote peace and development, uphold fairness and justice, and advocate democracy and freedom, so as to inject stability and positive energy into international relations in a period of turbulence and transformation.”
Highlighting the Global Security Initiative (GSI), which he proposed in April this year at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Hainan province, Xi said “both history and reality tell us that seeking one’s own security at the expense of others’ will only create new tensions and risks.”
In his speech, Xi said the BRICS countries need to strengthen political mutual trust and security cooperation, maintain close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues.
The five countries should also accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, respect each other’s sovereignty, security and development interests, oppose hegemonism and power politics, reject Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, and work together to build a global community of security for all, Xi said.