AFGHANISTAN HOSTS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR FIRST TIME IN DECADES
Afghanistan this week is hosting the annual meeting of 10 member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) for the first time in decades, in what is viewed by many as a step towards normalcy following decades of war and internal conflict, RFE/RL reported on 16 October 2007. In addition to Afghanistan, the participating countries are Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey, as well as the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Beheen said that the foreign ministers' meeting will take place on 20 October 2007, following days of gatherings between deputy foreign ministers and other high-ranking officials. During the final meeting, the deputy foreign ministers will present their conclusions on economic issues, trade, transportation, and regional cooperation to the ministers for discussion and approval.
AZERBAIJAN HOSTS ECO SUMMIT
The ninth summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) -- which comprises Iran, Turkey,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- took place in Baku on May 5. In his opening speech, Azerbaijani President Aliyev stressed that international terrorism and unresolved conflicts constitute an obstacle to expanding cooperation between regional states, day.az reported. He also said that the imminent commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan export pipeline for Caspian oil and of the South Caucasus gas-export pipeline will strengthen security and stability in the region. Aliyev met on May 4 with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation in the energy sphere, zerkalo.az reported on May 5. A press release stressed the "shared historic roots" of the Iranian and Azerbaijani peoples and the "friendly ties" between them. Aliyev also met on May 4 with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who expressed interest in Azerbaijan's Caspian energy projects.
15th Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of ECO
Astana, Kazakhstan, October 01, 2005
The 15th Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was held on 1st October 2005 in Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan. Ministers and High ranking Officials from ECO Member States including Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Turkey, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan attended the meeting. The ECO Secretary General along with the relevant staff of ECO Secretariat as well as ECO Specialized Agencies and Regional Institutions also participated in the meeting. International organizations namely OIC, IDB, ICARDA and ITC attended the 15th COM meeting as observers.
The Meeting was inaugurated by Mr. Talbak Nazarov, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan and the outgoing chairman of the COM. In his inaugural statement, Mr. Talbak Nazarov referred to the progress made by ECO in various fields and expressed his satisfaction over growing ECO’s activities in both regional and international cooperation.
The Council of Ministers unanimously elected H.E. Mr. Kassymzhomart Tokaev, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan as the new Chairman. In his statement, Mr. Kassymzhomart Tokaev underlined his vision for the enhancement of the Organization and promotion of cooperation among the ECO member states.
Mr. Askhat Orazbay, ECO Secretary General, presented his report and briefed the Council of Ministers on the ECO activities that have been implemented since the 14th Meeting of COM in 2004. He also highlighted ECO’s achievements in various fields of cooperation.
In their statements, heads of delegations reiterated their commitment to the ECO’s goals and informed the meeting on the measures their respective governments have taken to implement the ECO decisions and programmes. The representatives of the ECO Specialized Agencies submitted their annual reports on their current and future activities.
15th COM considered the agenda of the meeting, reviewed and approved, inter alia, the reports of the meetings of the Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR), ECO Secretariat’s Budget for 2005, ECO Secretariat’s Audit Report for 2004 as well as the reports of the other sectoral ministerial meeting held after the 14th COM meeting in 2004 namely 2nd Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture, 2nd Ministerial Meeting on Environment and 3rd Ministerial Meeting on Commerce/Foreign Trade. COM deliberated on the implementation of ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) and Transit Trade Framework Agreement (TTFA) and urged the member states to ratify these agreements in order to pave the way for their early implementation.
The Council also approved the affiliation of ECO-Consultancy and Engineering Company (Pvt) Limited (ECO-CEC) as a Regional Institution of ECO.
The important outcome of the meeting was the adoption of “ECO Vision 2015”. This document will serve as a basic policy guideline for ECO activities in the next ten years and sets targets to be achieved in the fields of trade, transport, energy, health and environment, etc.
The meeting also discussed issues relating to the role of ECO in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and reaffirmed its resolve to participate in the international efforts aiming at the reconstruction of Afghanistan. In this regard, the Islamic Republic of Iran announced to contribute an amount of US$ 400,000 for the Special ECO Fund for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan. Pakistan has already pledged US $ 5 million for this Fund.
The next Meeting of the ECO Council of Ministers will be held in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan before the Ninth ECO Summit in 2006.
ECO Summit in Dushanbe - 14 Sept. 2004
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 176, Part I, 15 September 2004
ECONOMIC COOPERATION SUMMIT HELD IN TAJIK CAPITAL... Heads of state and government from the member states of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) met in Dushanbe on 14 September for the group's eighth summit, agencies reported. The two main results of the meeting were a commitment to create a free-trade zone among member states by 2015 and a decision to create a fund for Afghan reconstruction. ECO members also agreed on the importance of coordinating the actions of tax officials, customs services, and antidrug structures, Tajik radio reported. A final declaration affirmed the ECO's resolve to support modernization, growth, development, and economic integration in the region, Avesta reported. ECO Secretary-General Askhat Orazbai said that Iran sponsored the initiative to create an Afghan reconstruction fund and that Pakistan has already pledged to give the fund $5 million, RIA-Novosti reported. The summit elected Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov to chair the ECO. Member states are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. DK
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