The 7th Ministerial Conference, titled “Security and Economic Connectivity towards a Strengthened Heart of Asia Region”, was held in Baku during December within the framework of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process. HoA IP participating and supporting countries and organizations took part in the 7th Ministerial Conference, which was preceded by a Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), as reported by the press service for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry.
President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani attended the opening ceremony as co-chair of the meeting. Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Khawaja Muhammad Asif led Pakistan’s delegation at the Conference.
The 7th Ministerial Conference of HoA IP was attended by representatives of states and organizations that are members of the “Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process”. The notable attendees included president and foreign minister of Afghanistan, foreign ministers of Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Indian minister of state for External Affairs, deputy foreign ministers of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, special representatives of Russia and China on Afghanistan, delegations of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as the special representative of the UN Secretary General on Afghanistan and Central Asia.
The ministers of the participating and supporting countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process adopted the Baku Declaration on conclusion of the meeting. The ministers agreed that they are committed to the UN Charter and its enshrined principles of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, inviolability of internationally recognized borders, sovereign equality of nations and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states as well as universally recognized principles and norms of international law.
They noted their reaffirmation for the importance of increased political dialogue and consultation between the countries comprising the Heart of Asia for a stable, peaceful and prosperous region. “We reiterate the obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against political independence, territorial integrity, or sovereignty of any state. We reaffirm our commitment to develop friendly relations among HoA countries based on good neighborly relations, peaceful co-existence, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries,” said the official joint statement.
The ongoing regional connectivity projects initiated by Azerbaijan were also highlighted, including, recently launched Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, the new Baku International Sea Trade Port, logistics center on the shores of the Caspian Sea, linking up railway networks of Azerbaijan and Islamic Republic of Iran represent qualitatively new achievement in developing trans-regional infrastructure with multi-modal capabilities along the East-West and North-South axes. These projects, on completion, will facilitate the co-chair country, Afghanistan’s access to global markets and provide connectivity in the region, capable of transporting cargo in a much shorter, faster, efficient and cost-effective way.