Ilham Aliyev attended the 12th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)
16 october 2012, 11:00
Azerbaijan has hosted yet another top-level event. The 12th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was held at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku.
ECO member-countries were represented by heads of state, prime ministers and parliament speakers. Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, a city experienced in playing host to representative international events, had thoroughly prepared for the 12th ECO summit.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met President of Tajikistan Emomalii Rahmon, Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari.
The heads of participating delegations had their official photos taken.
The national anthem of Azerbaijan was played.
In opening remarks at the 12th ECO summit, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan said:
- Dear heads of state and government!
Dear President of Azerbaijan, my dear brother Ilham Aliyev!
Dear summit participants!
We have a sense of great satisfaction to be in Baku, the capital of friendly and fraternal Azerbaijan, to attend the 12th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization. Indeed, it is a special source of pride for us to meet with you at this magnificent conference center and enjoy such hospitality.
The presidency we assumed two years ago will be handed over to Azerbaijan at this summit. As you know, we took over the presidency at a time when the global financial and economic crisis was having a negative impact on the whole world, including our region. During our presidency, we have worked hard to expand the views of the ECO, ensure specific progress in the field of cooperation and accelerate reorganization.
In order to provide recommendations in relation to the measures to be taken to achieve the objectives set out in the document “A look at the ECO in 2015”, the Istanbul summit established a group of elders. This team worked selflessly and prepared a report, which I think will serve as a roadmap. I believe that on the basis of these recommendations our organization will become a platform for cooperation not only regionally but also globally in the coming years. I want to express my hope again that member-states will take care about the future of this organization.
Expressing his confidence that the activities of the organization would further expand and a new contribution would be made to the development of economic cooperation between member-countries during Azerbaijan’s presidency, the Prime Minister of Turkey said:
- I am absolutely sure that Azerbaijan, viewing the ECO cooperation more broadly, would be an active presiding nation and lead the organization forward. I want to emphasize that the Republic of Turkey, as always, is ready to share its knowledge and experience with the friendly and fraternal Azerbaijan in this important mission.
With these thoughts I want to express my confidence that the Baku summit will be successful for all members of the organization and the region. I cordially salute the distinguished heads of state and government and other participants of the summit.
Then Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that presidency was handed over from Turkey to Azerbaijan.
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President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev delivered a speech at the summit.
Speech by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Dear ladies and gentlemen!
Distinguished heads of delegations!
Dear guests and friends!
I warmly welcome all of you to Azerbaijan. Welcome to Azerbaijan!
Thank you for having elected me chairman of the summit. I want to assure you that Azerbaijan, as a country presiding over the ECO, will do everything possible to further develop the organization, enable it to work on specific projects, so that the friendly and brotherly relations between member-countries are further widened. I want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Republic of Turkey, which chaired the organization for the past two years, and its leadership for their successful activities.
Our summit is held on the eve of a very important date. In November 1992, the ECO was joined by seven new members.
Azerbaijan was one of them. We can say that a new period in the organization’s activity began from that time. For its part, Azerbaijan has always attached great importance to the ECO, and we believe that successful activity of ECO is in the interests of all member-countries because we share a common history, economic and political interests.
As far as common history is concerned, I can say that our peoples have lived and worked together for centuries, have always supported each other. I think that the formation of our organization on this legacy is a remarkable fact. We are united by traditions, religion – the sacred religion of Islam, and we are committed to make efforts to promote Islamic culture. In 2009, Baku was declared the “Capital of Islamic Culture” and we successfully completed that glorious mission. In 2018, another ancient city of Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan, will be the “Capital of Islamic Culture”. It is a sign of great trust and respect of the Islamic world. We, in turn, make effort to strengthen Islamic solidarity in the world. We are very concerned about the growing trend of Islamophobia in some countries, we are rightly outraged by the insult of Islamic sanctities. We, in turn, should introduce Islam more widely as a religion of peace, brotherhood and charity. I believe that this should be one of the activities of our organization.
Political relations between member-countries are also at a high level. We support each other in international organizations.
Last year, Azerbaijan was elected a member of the UN Security Council with the active participation and support of member-countries. I take this opportunity to thank all the fraternal countries that supported us, I express our gratitude to you.
Azerbaijan, too, participates in all international activities to protect the national interests of ECO member-states. Mutual support and understanding will certainly strengthen our organization.
At the same time, we appreciate the position of the member-states on our most painful problem – the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This position is part of the documents to be discussed today. As you know, the territorial integrity of our country recognized by the international community has been violated for many years. Armenia has perpetrated a military aggression against Azerbaijan. As a result of this aggression, 20 per cent of our land is under Armenian occupation, more than a million Azerbaijanis are refugees and IDPs in their native homeland. A policy of ethnic cleansing was carried out against us. In 1992, the Armenians committed the Khojaly genocide, killing hundreds of innocent people, including women, children and the elderly. Three countries have already recognized the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide. One of them is our brotherly country and a member of ECO – Pakistan, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Pakistan and its leadership for this fair position. Azerbaijan's territorial integrity has not been and cannot be a subject of negotiations.
The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on the conflict settlement, providing for an unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied lands. Unfortunately, these resolutions are not fulfilled. But we are sure that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and all our fellow compatriots affected by the occupation will return to their homes, their ancestral lands.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the member-countries who have supported our fair position again. Of course, this occupation and injustice have inflicted a major blow to our economy. Despite that, the Azerbaijani economy has been on an upward trend in recent years. Over the last eight to nine years, our gross domestic product grew three times, industrial production has also increased almost threefold – i.e. by 300 per cent. Great progress has been made in poverty reduction.
Over the years, poverty has dropped from 49 to 7 per cent, unemployment is 5.3 per cent, our foreign debt accounts for only 7 per cent of the gross domestic product. International rating agencies have upgraded the credit ratings of Azerbaijan.
Although the financial and economic crisis in Europe is still ongoing, the leading rating agencies have raised the credit ratings of Azerbaijan. In terms of competitiveness, Azerbaijan is in one of the decent places in the world. Our reforms allow us to diversify our economy, so that all sectors of the economy develop and people live better.
Our trade with ECO member-countries is growing. It is very gratifying. In 2011, our trade increased by 38 per cent and in nine months of 2012 by a further 20 per cent. This shows that we have very effective economic relations with member-countries.
This is natural because our political relations are at a very high level, and the economic sector, of course, should match this level. I am sure that the outcomes of this summit and the decisions made will give an even greater impetus to our trade. We will support each other economically, through economic factors even more.
Two years ago, during the ECO summit in Istanbul, Azerbaijan gave the word and made a commitment that it would become a shareholder, a member of the ECO Bank. I can say with a sense of satisfaction that this is already a reality. Azerbaijan is already a shareholder of the ECO Bank and intends to actively participate in major infrastructure and economic projects in member countries. Both through the bank and as an investor. Azerbaijan has now started to invest abroad. This investment stands at billions of dollars. We are conducting research to access new markets.
Of course, we primarily invest in countries that are friendly and brotherly for us. I think that as part of the summit, as a result of joint future work of the delegations and economy ministers, we can hold a wider debate on the scope and volume of mutual investment. We are in favor of that.
Azerbaijan is also implementing very important regional infrastructure projects. Of course, these first include energy infrastructure projects. In recent years we have initiated the creation of a diversified network of oil and gas pipelines. Our energy is now supplied to world markets in different directions. I am very glad that these initiatives meet the interests of the region and that regional countries support them. Our activity in the energy sector, of course, secures our national interests, enhances energy security and creates new opportunities in this area.
I believe that our initiatives and activities in the transport sector serve our common interests. Azerbaijan takes practical measures to facilitate the operation of the North-South and East-West transit corridors. Our geographical location is such that Azerbaijan can become a regional transport hub. We have invested in newly emerging seaports, improvement of railways, roads, air transport. This, of course, is an excellent opportunity to turn Azerbaijan into a transport center. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the construction of which is scheduled for completion in the near future, will serve all ECO member-states because it will link not only Azerbaijan with Turkey. In essence, this road links continents, and if we look at the map of ECO member-states, the map of our organization, we will see that this road will be very effective and important for all of us. It is a strategic project, a project that will significantly improve the geopolitical and geo-economic situation. I am very pleased that this project will be realized in the near future.
In short, dear guests, I would like to repeat that Azerbaijan attaches great importance to ECO activities. Thus far, the ECO activities have been very successful. This organization has secured a worthy place in the world. The large economic potential of member-countries makes us even stronger. I am sure that our work on specific projects at the next stage will further strengthen our organization, and our initiatives in the field of economics, politics and culture will only enhance mutual trust.
I cordially greet all of you in Azerbaijan. I am sure that the Baku Summit of ECO will be successful and its results will further strengthen the organization.
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The next speaker, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, expressed his gratitude to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev for the excellent organization of the summit.
Stressing that ECO was a successful organization and would achieve further success, the Afghan President provided information about the projects realized in his country and ongoing developments. President Hamid Karzai said many countries were suffering from terror. One of them is Afghanistan. Along with Afghanistan, other countries in the region were victims of terror. The Afghan President suggested to join efforts to prevent this.
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President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad underscored the importance of expanding joint activities in addressing the problems of the region in which ECO member-countries are located. Speaking about the importance of summits for the efficient use of natural resources in these countries and the implementation of new projects, the Iranian President said the Baku summit was an important event from this point of view. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the summit would contribute to a further strengthening of economic relations of member-states.
Praising Turkey’s presidency in ECO, the Iranian President expressed his confidence that the organization would achieve further success during the presidency of Azerbaijan.
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President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari expressed his gratitude to the President of Azerbaijan for the excellent organization of the summit. The President of Pakistan said that after the last ECO summit in Istanbul the relations among ECO member-countries had further deepened. Cooperation now covers different sectors of the economy and investments among member-countries have increased.
Touching upon the importance of ties with other regional organizations and joint cooperation, President Asif Ali Zardari stressed the importance of private sector development and increasing mutual investments in ECO member-states.
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President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomalii Rahmon spoke about the role of ECO in expanding economic cooperation in the region. Stressing that the region covered by the organization both in terms of territory and population has a huge potential for economic and trade cooperation, the Tajik President said his country attaches special importance to the effective use of this potential within the ECO framework. The President of Tajikistan wished Azerbaijan and President Ilham Aliyev every success during presidency in the organization.
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about the efforts to step up the activity of the organization during his country’s presidency. The head of the Turkish government said that Azerbaijan’s view of ECO was based on broad prospects, which is encouraging. The Prime Minister said that the economic performance of ECO member-states did not reflect the real trade potential. Therefore, the Turkish Prime Minister suggested simplifying trade rules. Noting that the ECO Trade and Development Bank would significantly help projects of the organization, the Turkish Prime Minister called on all member-states to become co-owners of the bank.
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The chairman of the upper house of the Uzbek parliament, the Senate, Ilgizar Sabirov, spoke about the importance his country attaches to regional and mutually beneficial cooperation. The Senate chairman noted that the Baku summit was of great importance in terms of discussing ways to further enhance this cooperation. Ilgizar Sabirov stressed the importance of the discussion on the prospects of regional transport infrastructure, environmental issues, etc. from the standpoint of a future expansion of ECO.
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Other speakers at the summit, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan, Annamuhammed Gochiyev, the Minister of Transport and Communications of Kazakhstan, Askar Zhumagaliyev, the Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Erlan Abdyldayev, the Trade Minister of Saudi Arabia, Tofiq Arabiya, the Secretary General of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, Halil Akinci, expressed their confidence that the 12th ECO summit, organized in Baku at a high level, would contribute to a further strengthening of relations among member-countries.
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Then, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov informed the participants about the report of the 20th meeting of the ECO Council of Ministers held in Baku on 15 October.
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The Secretary-general of the organization, Shamil Alasgarov, spoke about the work done in the period since the previous ECO summit. The Secretary-General noted that the ECO would reach all the goals and all the suggestions would be considered.
The summit was continued after a break.
Indicating that the decision was made to hold the 13th ECO Summit in Pakistan, the chairman of the meeting, President Ilham Aliyev said:
- The next issue on the agenda is the place and date of the next summit. My friend, the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr. Zardari, has offered to host the next summit in Pakistan. We, of course, gladly accept this offer. So the next summit will be held in Pakistan.
The next issue on our agenda is the adoption of the Baku Declaration 2012. A draft of the Baku Declaration is in front of you. If someone wants to express an opinion, please. I believe that everything has already been agreed. So I want to announce that the Baku Declaration is adopted.
Then awards were handed to representatives of member-states for their achievements in various spheres. The awards were presented by President Ilham Aliyev.