March 01 , 2017


Islamabad Declaration reiterates support for peace in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) on Wednesday issued the Islamabad Declaration reiterating continued support to the national, regional and global efforts for reconstruction and sustainable development as well as peace and security in Afghanistan.

The ECO Member States particularly acknowledged the importance of Afghanistan for ECO Region, the Foreign Office said.

They reiterated that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnicity and expressing our resolve to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

They also reiterated political will and strong commitment for realizing the aims and objectives of the organization for economic development, common prosperity, regional integration and peace and stability in the ECO Region.

The ECO welcomed further enlargement and outreach of the organization through full membership to the interested states, and observership to the interested states/ organizations, on case to case basis, adding value to the organization.

Reaffirming commitment to the principles and objectives enshrined in the Treaty of Izmir, the member countries attached great importance to the cooperation frameworks developed under the different agreements concluded between the Member States and the momentum created in different fields of cooperation which can underpin and complement each other for meeting the objectives of the Economic Cooperation Organization.

The leaders further recalled commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter including in particular the respect for political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, development of friendly relations among nations, and pacific settlement of disputes.

They shared assessment of the constantly evolving global and regional environment and new developments that present multiple challenges and opportunities.

The ECO states expressed resolve to work together, including by positioning the ECO to effectively address these challenges and to seize the opportunities for the collective benefit of the region and its people.

They highlighted the positive political, economic, cultural and technological developments that can facilitate the realization of the long-held dream of trans-Eurasian connectivity, including in the ECO Region.

The Member States agreed to approach connectivity as a dynamic concept that encompasses multiple dimensions including cyber, energy, rail, road, and ports and shipping. They encouraged further development of educational and scientific linkages, and cultural and people to people contacts. The leaders underlined the significance of fully exploiting the complementarities offered by shared geography, history and culture, and the comparative advantages and diversity of resources of member states to bring about greater connectivity and economic integration in the ECO Region.

The ECO member countries appreciated the value and importance of a steady and flexible approach to regional connectivity and integration that enables Member States to contribute to be part of and benefit from the various connectivity and integration programs in a gradual and progressive manner according to their respective state of preparedness.

They recognized the existence of various connectivity initiatives in the ECO region, and welcomed these projects feed into the overall vision of comprehensive ECO connectivity and integration. The member states reiterated commitment to promote intra-ECO trade as an instrument of enhanced economic cooperation and revitalization in the region.

The ECO countries underlined the importance of the Post 2015 Development Agenda and the role that can be played by the ECO Member States for achieving the goals and targets set out therein and in this context recalled that promotion of conditions for sustainable development through mobilization of economic and social potential of the ECO Region requires further strengthened cooperation and collaboration especially through enhanced trade and connectivity among the Member States in order to further strengthen the deep-rooted historical and cultural ties among the peoples of the region.

The ECO Summit recognized the importance of moderation as an approach to counter all forms of extremism and promote dialog, mutual respect, understanding and social harmony, thereby contributing towards the achievement of sustainable and inclusive development, equitable growth, stability and prosperity in the ECO Region.

The ECO member states welcomed the recently adopted United Nations General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/71/222) on proclaiming International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028.”

Welcoming the adoption of the ECO Vision 2025 as a comprehensive document outlining the core principles and areas of cooperation within ECO, the heads of member states of the ECO Summit resolved that Member States as well as ECO Secretariat, ECO Specialized Agencies and Regional Institutions will take necessary steps for implementation of ECO Vision 2025 in a timely and effective manner.They agreed to ensure continued and enhanced cooperation in the areas of common interest through effective, timely and result-oriented projects and programmes in the Organization.

They pledged to undertake the implementation of the long-term sectoral priorities of ECO on development of transport and communication infrastructure; facilitation of trade and investment; and effective use of the region’s vast energy resources and to consider ways and means to promote ECO’s connectivity with other regions in these areas.

The member countries underscored the three core principles of ECO Vision 2025, i.e. sustainability, integration and conducive environment; and emphasized the need to augment cooperation in the areas of trade, transport and connectivity, energy, tourism, economic growth and productivity and social-welfare and environment as identified in Vision 2025.

The member states agreed to envision a more efficient and effective ECO, equipped with required capabilities and resources, to better serve the noble objectives of the Organization; and hereby task relevant Officials and the ECO Secretariat to take necessary and effective measures, using inside and outside resources, to bring about necessary reforms in the Organization.The participants of the Summit decided to encourage Member States to accede to relevant agreements developed within the ECO framework in order to achieve the objectives set forth under the Treaty of Izmir and the ECO Vision 2025; and Task hereby our relevant Ministers and authorities to consider joining these agreements.

They expressed resolve to enhance ECO-wide connectivity in terms of transport and transit; telecommunications; cyber; and all forms of energy; as well as people-to-people exchanges, including through regional tourism arrangements. In this regard, the member states welcomed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a far-reaching initiative that would act as catalyst for the development of the entire region.

The heads of states agreed to give priority to, and cooperate on full implementation of the Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA) and its’ annexes as ECO’s approved and most comprehensive and well-studied Transit Transport Framework for ECO Region. They noted that the multi-dimensional connectivity in road, rail, energy, trade and cyber and associated infrastructure and industrial development can promote integration and economic development of the wider region. They encouraged all relevant international and regional financial institutions to actively cooperate with ECO Member States in financing the development of ECO transport corridors, related connectivity and energy projects.

The member states vowed to work to double the current level of intra-ECO trade within the next 3-5 years, including through implementation of ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) and other ECO trade-related arrangements; as well as identification and elimination of physical and non-physical barriers to this end.

They Islamabad Declaration acknowledged the crucial role of financing projects on regional development and appreciated the ECO Bank’s growing scope of activities in this regard. It underlined the need to further strengthen the Bank through augmenting its resource base, as well as increasing its membership.The declaration also called for making ECO Reinsurance Company operational at the earliest and encouraged other Member States to join it.

Furthermore, the member states agreed to enhance regional cooperation in energy sector, focusing inter alia, on energy efficiency; energy infrastructure development including oil and gas pipelines, intra-regional energy trade, particularly electricity trade; and access to affordable energy resources, including renewable energy resources by promoting green energy investment and the development of environmentally friendly energy technologies; and task respective authorities to consider possibility of pursuing the ongoing initiative of establishment of ECO Regional Electricity Market with the widest possible intra-regional power grid interconnection.

The heads of member states decided to support the coordination of measures in the field of sustainable growth including, inter alia, the use of environmentally friendly, renewable energy and clean energy, the conservation and efficient use of water and energy resources.They agreed to develop, operationalize and commercialize the ECO intra-regional transit networks as well as corridors connecting ECO Region with other regions in line with the ECO rail and road development plans, with a view to building the required infrastructure needed for bolstering trade and transport connectivity within the Region and beyond.

The heads of the member countries expressed satisfaction at the successful implementation of corridor-based strategy among the Member States and appreciated the ECO Secretariat for its active role in the execution of the TTFA. They stressed the importance of strengthened and continued cooperation among all stakeholders to build and run information structures in order to bridge the digital divide in the region.

The Islamabad Declaration recognized that information and communication technologies have the potential to provide new solutions to development challenges, particularly in the context of globalization, and can foster economic growth, competitiveness, access to information and knowledge, poverty eradication and social inclusion that will help expedite the integration of all Member Countries into the global economy.In this context, the member states welcomed the joint study undertaken by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and ECO on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the ECO Region, which would be presented to the second ECO ICT Ministerial Meeting in Azerbaijan for its approval as well as its subsequent Action Plan.

The heads of the member states emphasized to develop a robust regional tourism industry, built on the vast natural endowments and cultural resources, as potential contributor to the economic growth and sustainable development of ECO Region, and to the strengthened affinities within ECO nations; and, therefore, task tourism and other related authorities to ensure that a multi-sector and multi-purpose tourism industry will be in place in the ECO Region as per ECO Vision by the end of 2025.The member states expressed concern about the existing unresolved conflicts in the ECO region, including Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, which hinder the economic growth and realization of the full economic potential of the region and impede the development of economic cooperation on regional as well as broader level.

They stressed the importance of making increased efforts for the earliest resolution of these conflicts based on the norms and principles of international law, in particular the principles of respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity.The ECO member countries acknowledged the internationally agreed norms and principles, concerning sovereignty and expressed concern over the attempts by certain quarters to threaten democracy discriminatory immigration policies by some states and use of unilateral economic sanctions and coercions by some states.

They further acknowledged the need for supporting measures to immediately address the threats to democratic governments, including coup d’etats aimed at overthrowing the democratically elected governments and constitutional orders of the Member Countries and the foreign occupation of the territories of the Member States, including economic strangulation, which undermine the role of the legitimate democratic governments in pursuing their socio-economic development and programmes.

The member states recognized the inter-linkage between development, peace and security for lasting prosperity and stability in the region and expressed grave concern over the security challenges of the region, including inter alia terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations which pose a great threat to individuals’ lives and national, regional and global security.

The ECO member countries recognized that the expansion of regional cooperation has, direct or indirect, impacts on safety, prosperity and welfare of their people and societies, including environment and climate change, health, food security standards, disaster risk reduction and education, which continue to be on the agenda of the Organization. They decided to task theur relevant Ministers and officials as well as ECO Secretariat to streamline these important issues and concerns in the activities/projects of the Organization.

The heads of member states reaffirmed to support the efforts of the government of Azerbaijan aimed at promoting and strengthening Islamic solidarity among Muslim States and in this regard noted with appreciation that proclamation of 2017 as the Islamic Solidarity Year in Azerbaijan by the President of Republic of Azerbaijan.

To this end, they decided to call Member States to actively participate in this event to be organized within the framework of the Islamic Solidarity Year in Azerbaijan, as well as in the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games and 4th World Forum on Inter-Cultural Dialogue to be held in May 2017 in Baku. They also noted the establishment of Islamic Organization for Food Security aimed at the developing cooperation among ECO Member States in agriculture.

The member states welcomed the “International Day of Nowruz” as a factor contributing to the strengthening of friendship between nations, and in this context, urged the Member States to actively participate in the celebration and preparation of joint events.The ECO member countries acknowledged the important role that can be played by the National Parliaments of the Member States in giving more effect to the agreed frameworks within the ECO and welcomed the offer by Pakistan to host the second Parliamentary Conference of Parliamentary Assembly of the Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO) at Islamabad in 2017.

The ECO member states recognized the important role of the small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the economic growth of the Member States and the Region as a whole and chose to task their relevant authorities to undertake necessary measures to strengthen the SMEs, including those that enhance women entrepreneurship and knowledge based enterprises.

The heads of member countries ensured that the existing regional arrangements and programmes in ECO to combat the menace of drugs and transnational organized crimes, including, inter alia, human trafficking, are in place and continue to function and that effective regional mechanisms for cooperation in law enforcement, judicial issues, capacity building, as well as other relevant areas are established.

They vowed to renew their strong desire for a secure, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan, and recalling our recent commitments made in the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan and task the relevant authorities and the ECO Secretariat to develop a comprehensive ECO advocacy programme for Afghanistan in the upcoming “ECO Special Conference on Afghanistan” to be held in May 2017 in Kabul.

The member states expressed support to the implementation of the UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/71/222) on International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018-2028, adopted on December 21, 2016, and Instruct the relevant authorities as well as the ECO Secretariat to consider this issue in the framework of the activities and projects of the Organization.

The Islamabad Declaration appreciated the initiative of the Kyrgyz Republic to host first and second World Nomad Games on September 8-14, 2014 and September 3-8, 2016, respectively, and encouraged Member States to actively participate in the third Games scheduled for 2018, which will contribute to the cooperation between Member States.

The declaration welcomed the International Exhibition EXPO 2017 to be hosted in Astana, Kazakhstan from June 10 to September 10, 2017 and OIC First Summit on Science and Technology to be hosted in Astana, Kazakhstan on September 10-11, 2017. It encouraged Member States to actively participate in these Events.

The heads of the member states expressed thanks to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and said that, “Under his leadership the 13th ECO Summit reached a successful conclusion.” They also extended gratitude to the Government and people of Pakistan for the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangement made for the Summit.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his concluding remarks said, “Pakistan being founding member of the ECO was committed to progress through regional integration.”

He said, “The summit provided the opportunity for discussing areas of cooperation among the member countries for the benefit of their population.”The next ECO summit will be held with mutual consensus of the members countries and will be communicated through the ECO Secretary General.




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