Report by Safeer Hussain Shah
H.E. Ilham Aliyev the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan delivered a remarkable speech during the recently concluded 13th ECO Summit in Islamabad. The President H.E. Ilham Aliyev showcased his country immense socio-economic prosperity, energy diversification, high level of productivity, industrialization and also shared potentials of investments in Azerbaijan with the ECO member states. President highlighted his country contributory role in the further strengthen of bilateral and trilateral relations within the framework of the ECO. The President H.E. Ilham Aliyev pledged great importance to the activity of the ECO. The President outlined different suggestions for the further strengthening of regional connectivity among the ECO member states.
Following is given H.E. Ilham Aliyev the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan’s complete speech during the 13th ECO Summit:-
Excellencies, dear friends,
First of all, I’d like to express gratitude to His Excellency Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Mr Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for hospitality and excellent organization of the ECO Summit. Azerbaijan hosted two summits of ECO in 2006 and 2012. Our country assumed the ECO chairmanship at our last meeting in Baku in 2012. This is the demonstration of our firm commitment to cooperation within the Economic Cooperation Organization. ECO is the product of our political will to cooperate closely for the benefit of our peoples. Successful activity of ECO is in our common interests. Peoples of our countries share common history, culture, traditions and religion.
During our chairmanship, Azerbaijan contributed a lot to the development of our organization, and to deepening our regional cooperation. Having excellent relations with all the member-states of ECO, Azerbaijan strengthened its economic ties both on bilateral and multilateral levels with its partners. We did our best to promote ECO not as a physical bridge between East and West and North and South, but also as a place which unites different civilizations and cultures.
Azerbaijan considers ECO as an important international organization. I am sure that the role of ECO in international economic cooperation will grow in the future. In 2013, we convened the first ECO high-level working group meeting on the Gazvin-Rasht-Astara Iran-Astara Azerbaijan railway project. This is a sign of high level interest and political support to realization of the North-South corridor. Azerbaijan already completed its part of the project that can offer additional cooperation opportunities for other ECO countries. This year we will organize the ECO railroad ministers’ meeting to develop our cooperation in this strategic direction.
We also initiated and held first and second international conferences on energy, regional integration and socio-economic development in 2013 and 2014, where cooperation within ECO was given a special attention. Azerbaijan is also committed to development of ICT cooperation in the ECO region. As a continuation of its efforts, Azerbaijan is planning to host a meeting of the respective ministers this year. I am sure that the outcome of this meeting will contribute to achieving our common goals. In 2013 and 2014, we organized first and second Baku forums of ECO member states` economic think tanks to allow economic intellectuals to come together and discuss issues of economic growth and cooperation. We also hosted many other events to strengthen our cooperation in the fields of healthcare, renewable energy, oil and gas, taxes, disaster management. Since 2012, Azerbaijan as a chairman of ECO, has done its best to strengthen our organization, to increase its involvement in the world economic cooperation and promote multilateral partnership between the member states.
Now we will elect the chairman of the 13th ECO Summit. I propose that the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan His Excellency Mr Muhammad Nawaz Sharif be elected as the chairman of the 13th ECO Summit Meeting.
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan His Excellency Mr Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has been elected as the chairman of ECO.
I congratulate you, Mr Chairman, wish you success and invite you to assume the chairmanship.
Our relations, which are based on mutual trust and support, are successfully developing. As a sign of brotherhood and solidarity Pakistan has not established diplomatic relations with Armenia, which continues to occupy 20 per cent of our territories. The Azerbaijani people are very grateful to you for this.
Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the activity in the Economic Cooperation Organization. We have worked together with all the member countries to further strengthen the organization since our chairmanship started in 2012. Ensuring security and stability is the main element of building regional cooperation. Unfortunately, as new conflicts emerge security and stability in our region becomes even more fragile. We witness human catastrophe. Many people lose their lives, millions of people leave their native lands.
Azerbaijan is well aware of the pain and sufferings from its own experience. As a result of Armenia’s military aggression 20 per cent of historical Azerbaijani lands – Nagorno-Karabakh and its seven surrounding regions – is under occupation. Ethnic cleansing was carried out in those territories and more than one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs. All our historical monuments, mosques and cemeteries were destroyed in the lands occupied by Armenia. In 1992, Armenia committed genocide against Azerbaijan. Of 613 civilians murdered as a result of Khojaly genocide, 106 were women, 63 were children and 70 were the elderly. Over one thousand people went missing. More than 10 countries have already recognized Khojaly genocide. We thank Pakistan for its Senate`s officially recognizing Khojaly genocide in 2012.
UN Security Council adopted four resolutions on the conflict. Those resolutions demand unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied lands. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OSCE, European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Non-Aligned Movement and other respected international organizations adopted similar resolutions and decisions. A contact group at the level of ministers on Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was established at the last summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and finally in April of 2016 the contact group on Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan was created. Armenia must comply with those resolutions and must be subjected to sanctions. Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity must be restored.
Azerbaijan attaches special importance to solidarity among Muslim countries. Azerbaijan announced 2017 as the Year of Islamic Solidarity. In two months Baku will host the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games. Islamophobia is today one of the most serious threats in the world. We severely condemn this tendency. Associating Islam with terror is a false and prejudiced attitude. Muslim countries are suffering the most from this terror. We should continue promoting the values of Islam, which is the religion of peace, mercy, tolerance and justice.
We attach special importance to strengthening economic cooperation among member states. Increasing mutual trade and investments, expanding export potential and encouraging close cooperation among business circles will serve this aim. Involvement of international financial institutions is also of great importance. In this regard, to play a more active role in financing the projects of regional importance, the Trade and Development Bank of the Economic Cooperation Organization needs to be supported by all the member states.
Cooperation in the field of transport is of great importance to Azerbaijan. The establishment of a strategic railway line between Europe and Asia through Azerbaijan`s territory will reduce cargo transportation time from 30 days to 15 days. The East-West transport corridor means restoration of historical Silk Road. The North-South railroad corridor is another important transport corridor. Azerbaijan is an active participant and investor of both strategic projects. We invite Economic Cooperation Organization member states to use the opportunities of this new infrastructure. The biggest international sea port in the Caspian Sea that was constructed in Azerbaijan is another contribution to transport infrastructure.
Energy cooperation plays an important role in regional cooperation. Azerbaijan has proposed a new energy strategy and a new vision for energy cooperation. Azerbaijan has become an important partner in providing energy security in a broader region. We created the infrastructure of diversified pipelines by linking the Caspian Sea, Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines are symbols of regional cooperation. Together with its partners our country is now realizing Southern Gas Corridor project that is worth 40 billion dollars. This is a project of energy cooperation and energy security. The transport and energy projects that I mentioned create tens of thousands of new jobs in the region. These projects bring prosperity. This strengthens cooperation and friendship among countries.
Thank you for your attention.
President H.E. Ilham Aliyev’s Speech during 13th ECO summit in Islamabad
Report by Safeer Hussain Shah