ECO summit served as field for joint efforts to ensure stability in region: Trend Capital commentator
Azerbaijan, Baku, March 12 / Trend /
Ellada Khankishiyeva, Director of the Trend analytic centreOn March 11, Tehran hosted the 10th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). The Tehran meeting coincided with a period of global changes in the world and served as a field for joint efforts of the ECO member countries to ensure peace and stability in the region. The discussions involved all ECO countries and representatives of influential international organizations.
Azerbaijan was officially admitted to the ECO in 1992. Azerbaijan presided over the regional organization since the 9th ECO summit held in Baku in May 2006. Under Azerbaijan's presidency, the organization passed a successful way. The ECO developed further and consolidated its positions in the world. Integration processes in the organization accelerated, a number of very important initiatives were made.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev opened the summit. The ECO is a structure possessing a great reputation both in the region and around the world. The wider organization's format, the better for all ECO member countries, he said.
The ECO pays great attention to regional security. Regional cooperation is being improved. The countries strengthen bilateral and multilateral integration processes. Over the past two years, the number of ECO meetings increased by 35 percent. The meetings focused on cooperation in transport, communications, energy, industry, agriculture, health, education, culture and environmental protection.
The last summit discussed three important railway construction projects - creating railway networks between Iran and Turkey, Kuwait and Taftan in Pakistan, and increasing the capacity of the Sarakhs station in Iran, which is necessary for railway communication between Iran and Turkmenistan. The meeting discussed transportation links between Azerbaijan and Iran and construction of railways to Pakistan. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project was emphasized. The project, initiated by Azerbaijan and neighboring countries, will connect Europe with Asia. Construction of a railway to in China through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran was also touched upon. The project was approved by the ECO countries.
The summit proposed to use ECO countries' economic potential as efficiently as possible. The countries agreed to expand trade links and establish a unified banking system. Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon suggested creation of working groups within the organization to prevent problems that may arise in connection with the global financial and economic crisis.
Rahmon said that the ECO member countries should try to establish a free trade zone. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed to select a single currency of the ECO members, establish an ECO bank in member countries, eliminate duties and taxes in import and export operations, and increase trade turnover among the countries.
As a result of the summit, the Tehran Declaration was adopted and treaties were signed. The documents obliged the countries to cooperate in key areas such as trade, transport, energy, tourism and agriculture. It was also decided to hold the next ECO summit in Pakistan in two years.
The ECO was established as an interstate structure in 1985 to strengthen economic, technical and cultural cooperation among Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Current ECO members are Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
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