ECO leaders stress enhanced cooperation for regional connectivity, prosperity

ISLAMABAD, March 1 (APP): The heads of state and government of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) countries Wednesday stressed that the region could be made prosperous and stable through enhanced connectivity and cooperation in trade, investment and energy sectors.
The ECO leaders addressed the 13th ECO Summit held here that also elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as the Chairman of the forum.
The theme of 13th Summit was ‘Connectivity for Regional Prosperity.’
Among those, who addressed the Summit, included Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Ulugbak Rozukulov and Hazrat Umar Zakhiwal, Special Envoy of Afghanistan, besides observers and special guests.
Addressing the Summit, the Iranian President said the unique geo-strategic location of the region put the ECO in an ideal position. The ECO could and should play its effective role in building “our future economies”.
He said the ECO countries provided a shortest trade and transit route to Europe, which was very significant in terms of strengthening regional trade.
President Rouhani thanked Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the Government of Pakistan for hosting the Summit.
President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon said the trade and investment were key elements for regional integration and development.
He stressed that the ECO member states should contribute for energy connectivity by building energy market, adding that Tajikistan was sixth in the word in clean energy market.
Emomali Rahmon said the ECO countries were rich of important geographical location and it was essential that they establish links through sea and railway.
He also called for better cooperation on risk reduction and emergency preparedness.
He said peace in Afghanistan was in the interest of whole region and his country had announced educational scholarships for 1,000 Afghan students.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev hoped that the ECO would grow as a platform of regional cooperation that would ultimately prosper the people.
He called for enhanced cooperation through improved infrastructure and communication projects.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the ECO Summit should make efforts for improved and enhanced road and transportation links and invited the member countries to take part in the projects of regional development.
He also called for broader energy cooperation among the ECO states, terming it essential for regional prosperity.
Besides economic cooperation, he said, there was also a need for political solidarity with the states facing bloodshed for the benefits of the foreign powers.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow said his country considered the ECO as an effective platform for dialogue in the long term interests of the region.
He said Turkmenistan was playing an important role for regional peace and termed food, energy and overall securities inevitable for regional peace and development.
The country was pursuing multipronged energy policy, he said mentioning the energy projects signed with Pakistan and other regional states.
Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev said the ECO had become a platform for regional development.
He said Kazakhstan was pursuing various projects of regional connectivity and stressed on the ECO countries to execute communication projects for regional integration.
He said besides investing in communication projects, the ECO states must also enhance cooperation in science and technology.
Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov emphasized the need to ensure operationalization of projects and enhance cooperation on trade, transport and energy among member states.
He viewed that it was high time to increase the effectiveness of the forum, besides translating all ideas into practical under the ECO Vision 2025.
Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Ulugbak Rozukulov said the ECO was a route to link the East with the West and the Vision 2025 would bring in development in the region.
He said Uzbekistan was playing an important role for regional peace. His country had expertise in transportation, he said and shared his government’s plans of regional connectivity.
Hazrat Umar Zakhiwal, Special Envoy of Afghanistan, congratulated the Prime Minister on his election as ECO Chairman.
He said unfortunately the ECO region remained the least developed and least connected. Besides, the potential of tourism could not be exploited, he added.
Zakhiwal said the regional cooperation was a component of Afghan policy and the regional challenges could be tackled through collective steps.
ECO observers from Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,Turkish Council and International Energy Charter, United Nations Secretary General’s special envoy and an observer from China also addressed the Summit.

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