13th ECO Summit

13th ECO Summit for continued & enhanced cooperation

At the platform of 13th summit Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) resolved to ensure continued and enhanced cooperation in the areas of common interest through effective, timely and result-oriented projects and programmes in the Organization.

ECO Summit also vowed to enhance ECO-wide connectivity in terms of transport and transit; telecommunications; cyber; and all forms of energy; as well as people-to-people exchanges, including through regional tourism arrangements. In this regard participants agreed to welcome China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a far-reaching initiative that would act as catalyst for the development of the entire region.

Members states also agreed to undertake to implement the long-term sectoral priorities of ECO on development of transport and communication infrastructure; facilitation of trade and investment; and effective use of the region’s vast energy resources and to consider ways and means to promote ECO’s connectivity with other regions in these areas.

Underscore the three core principles of ECO Vision 2025, i.e. sustainability, integration and conducive environment; and Emphasize the need to augment cooperation in the areas of trade, transport and connectivity, energy, tourism, economic growth and productivity and social-welfare and environment as identified in Vision 2025.
Moreover, they also reiterated political will and strong commitment for realizing the aims and objectives of the organization for economic development, common prosperity, regional integration and peace and stability in the ECO region.

Celebrating the silver jubilee of the expansion of the membership of the ECO that ushered in a new era and prospects of enhanced regional cooperation for development, the participants of the summit welcomed further enlargement and outreach of the organization through full membership to the interested states, and observership to the interested states/organizations, on case to case basis, adding value to the organization.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif chaired the summit and he was elected as the Chairman of the Summit. H.E. IlhamAliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, H.E. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Recep TayyipErdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Turkmenistan, H.E. Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Prime Minister of Kyrgyz Republic, H.E. UlugbekRozukulov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, H.E. Askar Myrzakhmetov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan and H.E. Hazrat Omer Zhakhilwal Special Envoy of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan participated in the summit.
In his welcoming remarks, Nawaz Sharif highlighted the importance of the ECO region and appreciated ECO’s performance in various fields, reiterated the commitment of Government of Pakistan to the objectives of the Organization and expressed the hope that progress towards regional integration would be further accelerated to transform the lives of over half a billion people.

In their remarks at the Summit, the Heads of State/Government of the Member States underscored the need for expansion of cooperation in various fields under the framework of ECO and reaffirmed their support to the goals and objectives of the Organization.

The Heads of State/Government also reviewed the performance of the ECO, the progress made since the Baku Summit in 2012, and underlined the challenges and opportunities lying ahead, giving directions to pace up progress in various sectors.

The Summit was preceded by the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) on 26-27 February 2017 and the 22ndCouncil of Ministers’ Meeting (COM) on 28 February 2017. H.E. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, who had chaired the COM, submitted his report to the Summit on the deliberations of the 22nd COM. The Secretary General of ECO, Mr. Halil Ibrahim Akca, in his report to the Summit, outlined the performance of the Organization since the 12th ECO Summit held in Baku in 2012.

Addressing the inaugural session, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the ECO could be an example of regional cooperation, which touches upon and enriches the lives of our peoples. What makes the theme especially relevant is that more countries in the region are already making large investments in connectivity projects.
Central Asia is fast emerging as a Trans-Eurasian land bridge. Oil and gas pipelines across deserts and mountains are linking our markets, while railroad networks are harbingers of our commitment to connectivity. But we can and should achieve even more, by pooling together our individual efforts for greater synergy. The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
“I believe that the ECO’s time has truly come. It is primed to make momentous advancement. There has never been a more opportune time to realize our dream of “Connectivity for Regional Prosperity” he added

He said that Pakistan not only boasted a consumer market of 200 million people, with a large and growing middle class, would soon be providing easier, quicker and cheaper physical access to markets in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
“But returning to the theme of this Summit, Pakistan has the location, the political stability, and, now increasingly, the physical infrastructure to achieve our common vision for making ECO a powerful economic bloc and an engine of growth. To that end, we need to work on streamlining our institutional mechanisms. The ECO Trade Agreement needs to be operationalized, while respecting and accommodating each Member State’s interests and concerns” he said.

Addressing the concluding session, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the ECO region straddles the centre of the Eurasian land mass. Its geography makes it indispensible for East-West connectivity. This region, which was once synonymous with the famed Silk Road, has always been a route for exchange of cultures and ideas. In discharging our historic responsibilities, we the leaders, have directed the ECO governing bodies to build and promote multi-dimensional connectivity in keeping with the Summit’s theme; “Connectivity for Regional Prosperity.”

“Our collective political will has been unambiguously reflected in the Islamabad Declaration adopted by the Summit. The Declaration underlines the importance of fully exploiting the economic complementarities of Member States, simultaneously strengthening their historic and civilizational bonds and to act as the bedrock for regional integration. ECO vision 2025, adopted by us at this Summit, is a significant achievement, which sets tangible and pragmatic goals along with an implementation framework. It will help realize the priorities of the organization” he added.

Being a founding member of the organization, Prime Minister said that Pakistan was committed to ECO objectives. Our Summit has underscored collective desire for regional integration. ECO initiatives demand commitment and tangible actions for achieving desired goals. The Summit provided us with an opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to progress and prosperity for the ECO region. It also allowed us to identify new areas of cooperation while cementing the progress on matters currently under process. Peace is essential for sustainable development as has been highlighted by my distinguished brothers and colleagues; therefore, I would also like to underscore the importance of solidarity within the Islamic world, to address the challenges which confront the adherents of Islam’ he observed.

My government’s commitment to a peaceful neighborhood has been repeatedly demonstrated. To this end, peaceful settlement of longstanding disputes, like Jammu and Kashmir and alleviating the sufferings of the Kashmiri people would greatly help in advancing the goals of stability and development of the entire region. The successful holding of the Summit is a manifestation of the desire and commitment of the Member states to transform ECO into a vibrant regional block. It is also a testament to Pakistan’s commitment to act as a harbinger of positive changes and meaningful development in the region.

During the Summit, ECO Awards 2017 were conferred on nationals of the ECO Member States. The awards were given in the field of Economics, History, Culture and Fine Arts, Science and Technology, Education, Agriculture and Environment.

The Summit unanimously adopted the Islamabad Declaration 2017 that represents the collective political will of Member States to focus on connectivity of energy, infrastructure, transport, and trade for regional prosperity. Another important outcome of the Summit is ECO Vision 2025 which provides guidelines to the Organization in all spheres of ECO activity.

By: Amna Malik, Chief Editor-in-Chief, Melange

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