On November 28, the capital of Turkmenistan hosted the 15th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). As a result of the meeting, the Ashgabat Consensus for Actions was adopted. It is mainly focused on building up interstate relations in trade, transport, energy, tourism, and combating the pandemic, as reported by «Turkmenistan Today» news agency.
The event was held at the new Garagum Hotel. The summit was attended by the presidents of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, as well as the Secretary General of the ECO Khusrav Noziri.
The meeting was held on the Day of the Economic Cooperation Organization. The initiative was put forward by the Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. As part of his welcoming speech, he noted that the ECO countries should expand partnerships in technology and communication, in the financial and banking sectors.
President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted that the final document of the summit will contribute to ensuring general security and stability. He drew attention to the fact that in the current conditions, special attention must be paid to optimizing the work of international transport and transit corridors, to reviving the Great Silk Road in the modern format.
The emphasis was also placed on the unstable situation in Afghanistan. Erdogan said that Turkmenistan, within its policy of neutrality, makes a significant contribution to the settlement of the situation in the Islamic country.
Berdimuhamedov said that the forum will strengthen ties between the countries in economy, trade, investment and culture. He added that Turkmenistan is open for broad interaction with all interested parties. Ashgabat is ready to step up cooperation in transport and energy, emphasized the Turkmen leader.
The President recalled the construction of the TAP transmission line, the railway from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, and the TAPI gas pipeline. He paid attention to the projects of Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman and Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey transport corridors.
According to Berdimuhamedov, the ECO countries need to create additional energy and transport-transit corridors. The head of the state stressed that in the current situation it is advisable to establish a goal-oriented dialogue with the SCO, the EEC and the CIS.
The leader of the country expressed his conviction that the Afghan people need humanitarian assistance urgently. He proposed to use the logistics and infrastructure facilities of Turkmenistan, in particular the Turkmenbashi International Sea Port, to establish a transport and transit corridor between the Caspian and Black Sea regions with access to the EU, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region.
Berdimuhamedov said that by the end of 2020, the total volume of trade between the ECO countries reached about 49.8 billion dollars. He offered the summit participants to think about creating more favorable conditions for interaction between businessmen of the respective states, partnership of entrepreneurs in the production of manufactured goods, in the agricultural and service sectors. In this regard, he proposed to develop a special business platform for the Economic Cooperation Organization.
The speech of the President of Turkmenistan also included the topics on the development of relations in health care amid the coronavirus pandemic, the development of joint tourism programs, organizing the cultural and sports events.
Berdimuhamedov stressed that Turkmenistan has developed a draft resolution on «Cooperation between the UN and ECO», which was adopted in September this year.
Then the floor was given to the Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization Khusrav Noziri. He pointed out the importance of the «Roadmap for Cooperation», which was developed within the ECO under the chairmanship of Ashgabat.
According to him, the member states of the organization should think about expanding regional trade and exports of ECO, which is already indicated in the «Perspectives of ECO-2025». The emphasis was placed on the importance of reducing customs tariffs, ensuring trade security at the regional level, creating a clearing union of the Organization for Economic Cooperation between the central banks of the ECO partner countries.
President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov pointed out the importance of work on adaptation to climate change, the introduction of renewable energy sources, and the use of hydropower. A number of summit participants spoke in favor of the need for a more intensified fight against the pandemic of a new strain of coronavirus, as well as the urgency of increasing the volume of trade.
The head of the government of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin advocated the development of a «road map» to increase the trade flow within the ECO. He proposed to simplify the barriers in the transport and logistics system and develop a strategy for the cooperative development of the economies of the member countries of the organization, taking into account the challenges of the pandemic.
After that the Ashgabat Consensus for Actions, final document of the 15th ECO summit, was unanimously adopted. According to the document, the meeting participants agreed:
— to expand interstate ties in trade, transport and communication, energy, tourism, economic growth and productivity, in the social field and in the sphere of environmental protection;
— to strengthen the fight against the coronavirus pandemic;
— to simplify the procedures for trade and investment;
— to consider the issue of joining the Treaty of Izmir;
— to remove technical and functional barriers to intraregional trade;
— to expand communication capabilities;
— to commend the cargo transportation from Pakistan to Azerbaijan and Turkey;
— to overcome the digital inequality in the region;
— to digitize transport, customs and border procedures using e-TIR / e-CMR;
— to strengthen interaction in e-government, digital economy, AI;
— to take urgent measures to solve serious problems in the tourism industry that have arisen amid the coronavirus pandemic;
— to expand work on environmental protection;
— to support the initiative to create a Clean Energy Center;
— to increase cooperation in «green» energy;
— to ensure food security in the region, in particular in cooperation with FAO;
— to expand industrial partnership;
— to enhance the role of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises in economic growth;
— to consider the issues of creating a Regional Electricity Market;
— to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering;
— to stop unilateral sanctions and economic pressure;
— to study investment opportunities in the field of restoration of several territories of Azerbaijan;
— to support ensuring the peace in Afghanistan, to recognize Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate the transfer of a bank account to Kabul, to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, to support immigrants from an Islamic country, to emphasize the importance of creating an inclusive government in the relevant state, to show solidarity in protecting the rights of Afghan women.
Uzbekistan took over the chairmanship of the organization for 2022. The country will chair the ECO for the first time.