Recently, Tehran handed over the rotating presidency of the ECO Council of Ministers to Islamabad.
Leading the Iranian delegation in the 22nd meeting of the ECO Council of Ministers, Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif handed over the presidency to Pakistan's Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also traveled to Islamabad to attend the 13th session, during which the Council of Ministers (COM) approved the Islamabad Deceleration during the gathering held on March 1.
Addressing the opening session of the 22nd ECO Council of Ministers meeting, Zarif said new regional economic architecture among ECO member states is required to ensure implementation of ‘Vision 2025’.
“New regional economic architecture for cooperation and integration within the ECO is required to ensure that the “Vision” and other such frameworks will deliver their expected output, in a timely and effective way,” he said.
He added in the 21st COM Meeting in November 2013, and in the “Tehran Communiqué”, the Ministers clearly indicated that continued regional cooperation within ECO framework would require, first and foremost, enhanced institutional and operational capacities in the Organization, enabling it to respond in a timely and effective manner to the needs and aspirations of the Member States.
The minister added the ECO member states, assisted by the Secretariat, have charted the “Vision 2025” which lays out the ECO goals and programmes in the coming decade.
“We need to have all Member States on broad; while ECO in return needs to prove that it works for the whole membership,” he viewed.
“ECO needs to prove its added value for each and every single Member State, enhancing the sense of ownership among them. Conversely, we, the Member States, should lend our full support to the Organization and its activities,” said Zarif.
Emerging Asian economies
Addressing the opening session of the 13th Summit of ECO on March 1, President Rouhani said the emerging Asian economies would change the direction of the world’s economy from the West to the East; and this would turn the twenty first century to the era of rising Asia.
“Our continent Asia is going to pump the heart of the world’s economy in the second half of the present centaury,' said the President stressing that promotion of connectivity will help development and prosperity in Asia.'
He further noted, “The unique status of our countries in transit and transport as well as energy and commerce has put the ECO in an ideal position. The ECO can and should play a prominent role in building the future economy of our region.
“Situated on the shores of several strategic waterways of the world and being neighbor to five important bodies of water, our countries have provided unique geopolitical and territorial conditions for our organization.
“There is no other trade and transit route linking Europe to Asia more cost-effective and shorter than the ECO pathway.”
President Rouhani highlighted that ECO was a proper ground for creation of a safer and more secure region for all nations. He stressed that Iran appreciated common interests and cooperation with neighbors as it held joint borders with six ECO members; “no barriers exist on deepening relations with ECO states.”
The official underlined that the fruitful experience gained through the JCPOA which was a win-win agreement has paved the path for boosting collaboration asserting “the end of a fake crisis over Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and reaching an international accord confirmed by the UN Security Council marked a great achievement not only for Iran but also for ECO.”
Upon his arrival in Tehran from Islamabad President Rouhani highlighted the positive impacts that ECO will have on stability in the region, saying he had constructive talks with Turkish and Pakistani leaders to serve that purpose.
Rouhani underlined that members of ECO are determined to strengthen joint relations, saying there are many capacities for broadening cooperation among ECO states which should be used completely.
By constructive interaction we mean that it should primarily be forged with neighboring states and the ECO members, President Rouhani said adding that proper steps have been taken during the summit to this end.
Noting that ECO Summit highlighted promoting bonds among ECO member states, the President added that participants of the ECO Summit underlined the necessity of cooperating on road, railway and shipping activities as well as gas and oil sectors. They have also called for removing obstacles in the way of trade among those countries.
All member states stressed the need for boosting bilateral cooperation in various fields and that has led to releasing a good statement which emphasized proper use of the ECO member states capacities, the President said.
Strengthening ECO will benefit the region and will contribute to promoting cooperation among Pakistan, Iran and Turkey and eventually to regional stability, said the President.
Finally the 13th Summit of 10-member of ECO concluded in Islamabad on March 1 with adoption of the Islamabad Declaration.
The leaders of ECO member States also adopted ECO Vision 2025, a roadmap for greater regional cooperation and integration in years to come. They also unanimously agreed to build and promote multi-dimensional connectivity among the ECO member states.
In their deceleration, the ECO member states expressed grave concern over the security challenges facing the region and expressed resolve to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
In the deceleration the ECO members also strongly opposed policies adopted by some countries towards the refugees.
For sure the event would play a key role in establishing that peace and stability in the region and is pivotal for achieving regional economic goals.
To this end, accelerating establishment of ECO commercial trade zone as well as the agreement for promoting investment is essential.