AKIPRESS.COM - The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping must act as a “symbol of change” at a time when the world community is grappling with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and stresses caused by conflict, India’s external affairs minister S. Jaishankar said on Thursday, The Hindustan Times reported.
Addressing a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers at Cape Town in South Africa on Thursday, Jaishankar urged the grouping’s members to make sincere efforts to push reforms of international bodies such as the United Nations Security Council and to combat all forms of terrorism, including its financing.
The meeting is expected to shape the agenda for the BRICS Summit to be hosted by South Africa in August, including issues such as the grouping’s expansion and a push for greater trade between the members in national currencies against the backdrop of Western sanctions imposed on Russia.
Jaishankar said the meeting is important in view of the challenging international situation, which demands that BRICS members approach key contemporary issues constructively and collectively.
“We are a symbol of change and must act accordingly. This responsibility is even greater as we contemplate the devastating after-effects of the Covid pandemic, the stresses arising from conflict and the economic distress of the Global South,” he said without directly referencing the Ukraine crisis.
BRICS, he said, must send out a strong message that the world is multipolar, is rebalancing and “that old ways cannot address new situations”. Contemporary challenges underline the “deep shortcomings of the current international architecture, which does not reflect today’s politics, economics, demographics or indeed aspirations”, he added.
In the face of disappointment over calls to reform multilateral institutions, BRICS members should show sincerity in transforming global decision-making, including that of the UN Security Council, he said. India has been at the forefront of the UN to push for an urgent long-pending reform of the Security Council.
The Indian minister further said: “At the heart of the problems we face is economic concentration that leaves too many nations at the mercy of too few. This may be in regard to production, resources, services or connectivity. Recent experiences impacting health, energy and food security only highlight this fragility.”
He urged BRICS to consider India’s efforts to raise the issues of the Global South at the G20 and to promote the “economic decentralisation that is so essential to political democratisation”.
Jaishankar listed terrorism among key threats to global peace and security and said: “All nations must take resolute measures against this menace, including its financing and propaganda. It must be combated in all its forms and manifestations and never be condoned under any circumstances,” the minister said at the forum attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor among others.
Jaishankar tweeted that he met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the margins of the BRICS meeting and discussed “bilateral matters, BRICS, G20 and SCO”.
A readout from the Russian side said Lavrov and Jaishankar discussed issues on the bilateral agenda and international and regional problems. “The ministers commended the dynamics of cooperation in the most important areas of the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries,” it said.
Both India and Russia also reaffirmed that they will work to build a “fair multipolar system of interstate relations, including the prevention and impeding the use of the neo-colonial practices”.
Jaishankar also tweeted that he met Saudi Arabian foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan and had a “productive exchange of views on the global situation”. In another tweet, he said he and South African foreign minister Naledi Pandor reviewed progress in the bilateral strategic partnership and exchanged views on Brics, IBSA, G20 and UN.
The five-nation grouping BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing 41 per cent of the global population, 24 per cent of the global GDP and 16 per cent of the global trade.