On Thursday, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov participated in the XIV Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization held via videoconferencing. The development of regional economic cooperation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic was of special emphasis in its agenda.
Speaking at the forum, the Turkmen leader emphasized the consolidating mission of the ECO as a form of economic cooperation between countries that are united geographically, historically, as well as by traditional values. At the same time, Berdimuhamedov said that time requires new approaches to the work of the Organization as a real structure for the implementation of joint projects.
According to the President of Turkmenistan, the main task of the ECO today is to ensure sustainable development in the region through economic resources and cooperation in the name of common prosperity, positive impact on regional and global economic processes. In this, Turkmenistan sees its chairmanship in the ECO in 2021.
“We regard the chairmanship as a responsible and high mission and will make every effort to make it successful, fruitful and serve the interests of the participants,” Berdimuhamedov stressed.
The President of Turkmenistan briefed the colleagues on the priority areas during the presidency of Turkmenistan in the Organization.
As a strategic task, the assistance in expanding the partnership opportunities within the ECO in the economic, trade, industrial, energy, transport-communication and cultural-humanitarian spheres is considered.
Turkmenistan is aimed at creating conditions for intensification of trade and economic relations between the ECO countries, at increasing the volume and diversification of trade. In this connection, it is proposed to start work on the creation of economic routes in the region, regarding them as the main stable system that ensures the movement of goods and services, the implementation of investments.
Continuing the topic, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov identified industrial cooperation, the consolidation of production and technological potential, and the implementation of large joint infrastructure projects among the priority aspects of the economy.
The transport and communication sphere should play a key role in ECO space as it is viewed as a system of optimal, cost-effective transport and communication hubs and routes on the Eurasian continent.
As the most recent examples of this, Berdimuhamedov cited the launch in January 2020 a number of infrastructure facilities along Turkmenistan – Afghanistan route, inclining a new power transmission line, the opening of a railway line between the Akina – Andhoy stations, and the commissioning of fiber-optic communication.
“We suggest considering the implementation of such ambitious and multilateral projects in various fields with the participation of other ECO countries,” the President of Turkmenistan noted.
In addition, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov urged to focus on combined transit transport corridors along the East-West route, from the Asia-Pacific region to the European part of the continent, towards the Middle East.
The head of Turkmenistan also proposed to expand cooperation in the Caspian Sea region, as four of the five Caspian countries are ECO members.
“It is necessary to actively advance through the Caspian in the western and northern directions, to reach the ports of the Black and Baltic Seas,” the President of Turkmenistan stressed.
The creation of energy clusters in the ECO space, the diversification of energy supplies are considered as a key task. Currently, the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline is carried out, which can serve as an example of mutually beneficial cooperation.
Berdimuhamedov also briefed on the implementation of projects for the supply of electricity along the routes Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Tajikistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan and Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan. At the same time, the Turkmen lweader expressed his conviction in the need for additional energy routes both within the ECO region and beyond.
In this context, Turkmenistan noted the possibility of establishing contacts between the ECO and other interstate formations on the continent, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, whose strategic interests could coincide with the interests of the ECO.
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov also separately voiced the Afghan topic. It was stressed that Turkmenistan attaches great importance to the process of rebuilding the Afghan economy as a key factor in establishing lasting peace and harmony on Afghan land, provides assistance this brotherly country in construction of energy supply systems, transport and communications, social facilities.
“In the close involvement of Afghanistan in regional and continental economic cooperation as a participant in significant joint projects in the industrial, energy, transport, communication and logistics areas, we see a strategic opportunity for it with great prospects,” the Turkmen leader emphasized.
As the chairman of the ECO, Turkmenistan is aimed at actively promoting the expansion of relations in the field of culture, sports, education, youth policy, tourism, and it is proposed to pay special attention to cooperation in the field of science and medicine, the exchange of experience in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“Turkmenistan sees in ECO a great promising potential for the implementation of national programs of economic development of the Organization’s member states, for the well-being and prosperity of peoples, peace and progress in the region,” Berdimuhamedov underlined.
“As the ECO chairman, Turkmenistan will make every effort to achieve these goals,” the head of state stressed and proposed to hold the next summit of the heads of the ECO member states in Ashgabat on November 28, 2021, on the Day of the Economic Cooperation Organization, and also invited all colleagues to visit the capital of Turkmenistan in order to participate in the work of this summit.
This Summit held under the chairmanship of the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also attended by President of Afghanistan – Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Azerbaijan – Ilham Aliyev, President of Iran – Hassan Rouhani, President of Kazakhstan – Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan – Sadyr Japarov, President of Tajikistan – Emomali Rahmon, President of Uzbekistan – Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Prime Minister of Pakistan – Imran Khan and ECO Secretary General – Hadi Soleimanpour.
The Secretary General of the Turkic Council – Baghdad Amreyev, the Secretary General of the Energy Charter – Urban Rusnak and others were also invited to participate in the summit.