Ilham Aliyev attended the XI Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization in Istanbul

23 december 2010, 14:30

The 11th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization was held at "Ciragan" Palace in Istanbul

The summit was attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul welcomed the president of Azerbaijan and other heads of state and government.

The summit was opened by the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmud Ahmedinejad, who has held the presidency of the Economic Cooperation Organization since the 10th summit held in Tehran in March 2009. He expressed his satisfaction that Turkey was taking over the presidency of the organization, saying that relations between member states have expanded even more since the last summit in Tehran and have covered various fields of the economy. It is notable that investments between the countries have increased.

The Iranian president expressed confidence that ECO has great potential to expand and develop economic cooperation.

The presidency of the Economic Cooperation Organization was handed over from Iran to Turkey.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul welcomed the heads of state and government attending the 11th summit of ECO, saying that he was happy to take over the presidency of the organization.

The Turkish head of state said that his country attached great importance to the establishment of peace and security in the region. Along with that, Turkey also attaches great importance to the expansion of economic cooperation in the region. In this respect, ECO plays an irreplaceable role. In terms of territory and population, the region covered by ECO has great potential in the field of economic and commercial cooperation. One of the most important objectives is to increase the trade turnover between member states and achieve greater results.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addressed the summit.

- Dear Mr President, my dear brother!

Dear colleagues!

First and foremost, I would like to express my profound thanks to my dear brother, the president of the Republic of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, for organizing the summit at a high level and for his hospitality. I am very happy to visit fraternal Turkey again.

At the same time, I would like to express my thanks to my dear brother, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmud Ahmadinezhad, who has presided over the organization in the past period, for his successful presidency.

Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the activities of the Economic Cooperation Organization. We are an active member of the organization, and it is pleasing that the organization is strengthening. I am confident that in the future, the organization will gradually play an increasingly important role worldwide. As this role increases, the potential of the member states of the organization will also expand.

Azerbaijan attaches great importance to issues of regional cooperation. We are making efforts to develop the processes taking place in the region. A new situation has come about in the sphere of implementing specific projects – both in the transport and energy spheres, and Azerbaijan seeks to mobilize its economic potential in order to make a greater contribution to this large-scale cooperation.

Economic processes in our country are developing in the positive direction. Over the last seven years, the gross domestic product of Azerbaijan has tripled and budget expenses have increased by 12 times. Poverty has fallen by four times. This allows us to use greater financial resources for the common purpose. Thus, the economic cooperation in the region will be given a great impetus. In order to ensure the economic independence of a country, especially in the current period, it is necessary to resolve issues of energy security. Azerbaijan is making its own contribution in this sphere. Our rich oil and gas reserves play a positive role not just in the development of our country, but also in regional cooperation. Azerbaijan's rich oil and gas reserves allow us to transport our natural reserves to neighbouring countries. Today there are seven oil and gas pipeline extending from our country to the world market. Azerbaijan is realizing its potential through these pipelines, thus enabling neighbouring brotherly and friendly countries to meet some of their demand for energy. Azerbaijan is a reliable partner, and has always honoured, and will honour, its obligations. We have proved to be a supplier, a transit country and a reliable partner for many years. I am confident that as issues of energy security are successfully resolved, every country will develop even more confidently. Issues relating to energy in the world will become an even more serious subject of discussion in the future. Considering this, we can say that as a supplier of energy, Azerbaijan is ready to play its positive role in the future, too.

Along with that, Azerbaijan has a very positive approach to developments in the transport sector. The projects we are implementing have resulted in the establishment of a new transport infrastructure in the region. Azerbaijan is an active participant in the North-South and East-West transport corridors. The geographic position of our country allows us to increase our positive role in every field.

As a result of the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway which has been built in the region, it will be possible to restore the "Iron Silk Route".

Not only will this route connect Azerbaijan to Turkey, it will also connect Europe to Asia. Thus, this route will be of great importance in terms of economic efficiency. We are actively participating in this project. We hope that the construction of this route will be completed in the near future and the member states of the Economic Cooperation Organization will be able to benefit from this opportunity.

Along with the implementation of all the successful economic and infrastructure projects, I should note that stability, peace and security should be ensured in the region. Unfortunately, the conflicts, problems and threats that exist in our country and need to be solved do not allow us to fully achieve our objectives. Every country can successfully develop politically or economically only in conditions of stability. Political stability has long been established in Azerbaijan. However, the unresolved conflicts and the fact that 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territories still remain under Armenian occupation are a source of a great regional threat. A policy of ethnic cleansing was carried out against Azerbaijanis in Azerbaijan's ancient land Karabakh and surrounding areas, more than one million Azerbaijanis were forced to become refugees in their own land, 20 per cent of our lands are under Armenian occupation, and this injustice has been going on for many years. Although international organizations, especially the United Nations and its Security Council, have adopted four resolutions on the issue and those resolutions provide for the unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the occupied territories, the Armenian side is still not implementing these norms of international law and is continuing its aggressive policy. The Organization of the Islamic Conference and other international organizations have issued similar resolutions. Of course, this provides strong grounds for a just and legal settlement of the issue. But in reality, we are not seeing any progress and Azerbaijan has been suffering from this occupation for many years. Of course, we will not put up with this situation. We will restore our territorial integrity. We are trying to do this in a peaceful negotiated way. Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is recognized by all the countries of the world and is not, and will never be, a subject of discussion.

On the other hand, the unresolved conflicts failed to create great obstacles to our economic development. But if we take into account that had it not been for this conflict, the country's development and issues of regional cooperation could have been resolved more successfully and quickly.

I would like to point out once again that Azerbaijan will continue to actively participate in the Economic Cooperation Organization. We will continue to contribute to the strengthening of the organization. This organization has already turned into a great international organization. I have a very positive view of the proposal made by my dear brother, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, that it is a good idea to expand the number of members of the organization's Bank. For its part, Azerbaijan will use this invitation in order to become a full member and shareholder of the Bank.

I thank my dear brother, President Abdullah Gul, once again for his hospitality and for organizing the summit at a high level. I wish our organization new success and victories. Thank you.

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Turkish President Abdullag Gul: I thank my dear brother, Mr Ilham Aliyev, for his wonderful speech and for Azerbaijan's contribution to ECO. Specifically, in my opening remarks, I said that it is necessary to increase the number of partners of the ECO Development and Trade Bank, and I invited all of you. Mr Aliyev said that they would be shareholders of the bank. We are very pleased with this. I hope that other member states will also take the same step. I thank my brother Ilham Aliyev once again.

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Other heads of state and government who participated in the summit said that they had the same position regarding the strengthening of the activities of ECO and development of economic cooperation between member states.

After that, the heads of state and government signed the summit's stamps.

At the end of the summit, the heads of state and government posed for an official photo.

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After that, a ceremony was held to present the rewards of the Economic Cooperation Organization. Among those rewarded was a professor from Azerbaijan, Elmira Ramazanova.

The Economic Cooperation Organization was established by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey in 1985. In 1993, the organization received observer status at the UN and one year later, at the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The 9th summit of the organization, of which Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan are members, was held in Baku in May 2006, while the 10th summit was held in Tehran last year.