The 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), chaired by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, took place in Ashgabat on Sunday.
The summit gathered the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov, President of Pakistan Arif Alvi, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Prime Minister Askar Mamin, representing Kazakhstan, and the ECO Secretary General Khusrav Noziri also attended the forum, the official media of Turkmenistan reports.
Addressing the summit with a welcoming speech, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said Turkmenistan attaches special importance to cooperation with the ECO in its foreign policy.
The Turkmen Leader stressed that development of trade is the most important component for partnership between stated. Last year, the total trade turnover between the ECO member countries amounted to $49.8 billion, President Berdimuhamedov said, adding that figure does not reflect the existing joint potential.
Currently, it is necessary to expand cooperation in such areas as technology, communications, financial and banking sectors under the programs and projects implemented by ECO, said the Turkmen leader, expressing confidence that the today's meeting will feature constructive talks in areas that open up great prospects for the future.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the 14th ECO Summit, emphasized the importance of decisions aimed at further expanding cooperation in the regional and global dimensions, including optimizing the functioning of international transport and transit corridors and noted that cooperation in this direction would be a clear indication of the revival in modern format of the Great Silk Road, which in ancient times united peoples and countries.
Referring to the issues regarding Afghanistan, President Erdogan said the political stability in Afghanistan and its socio-economic revival is important not only at the regional but also at international level.
President Berdimuhamedov stated Turkmenistan pays special attention to intensifying the transport and transit traffic along the East-West and North-South routes, particularly through the creation of transport corridors Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman and Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey.
Focusing on this topic, the Head of State expressed confidence in implementation of the above-mentioned projects within the existing joint opportunities. The President of Turkmenistan also highlighted the need for additional energy and transport-transit corridors both between the ECO countries and beyond it.
The Head of State suggested looking into the use of logistics and infrastructure facilities in Turkmenistan to enhance the transport and transit traffic between the Caspian and Black Sea regions with access to European countries, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region. He stressed the readiness of Turkmenistan to provide its modern port facilities on the Caspian coast in the interests of the ECO partners.
For his turn, the ECO Secretary General Khusrav Noziri stressed the significance of the 15th summit as a unique opportunity to confirm common commitments and efforts to expand regional partnership, and also emphasized the importance of the Road Map for cooperation developed under the chairmanship of Turkmenistan.
Speaking about the forthcoming plans, the ECO Secretary General said the trade is the engine of economic growth and plays a crucial role in the socio-economic development of the member countries. In this regard, emphasis was placed on the importance of expanding ECO regional trade and global exports as outlined in the ECO Vision 2025.
At the same time, Noziri emphasized the need for practical implementation of the decisions taken on the results of ministerial meetings held in 2021, the provisions of the ECO Trade Agreement on the reduction of customs tariffs, and other relevant documents, as well as a number of joint projects.
One of the main tasks in this direction is to make regional trade safer and risk-free, Khusrav Noziri said and drew attention to the importance of creating the ECO clearing union between the central banks of the organization's partner countries to facilitate operational economic transactions related to trade.
The Presidents of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan also delivered speeches during the summit. Emphasizing the presence of potential for increasing trade turnover between the ECO member states, they stated the need to make efforts in this direction to bring trade and economic relations to a qualitatively new level.
The final document of the 15th ECO summit – Ashgabat Consensus for Action – was unanimously adopted during the event.
According to the established mechanism of rotation, in 2022, the presidency in the ECO passes on to Uzbekistan. In this regard, the Head of Turkmenistan sincerely congratulated President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the upcoming chairmanship, according to the report.
On the sidelines of the summit, the President of Turkmenistan held bilateral meetings with the President of Tajikistan, the President of Pakistan, the President of Iran, the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, and with the ECO Secretary General.
(Photos: press services of the Presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Turkey)