Ashgabat hosted 15th Summit of Economic Cooperation Organization
Azerbaijans President Ilham Aliyev attended the Summit

On November 28, the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was held in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.

AZERTAC reports that President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the Summit.

President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov welcomed President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

The heads of state posed for photographs.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov then welcomed other guests who arrived in Turkmenistan to attend the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization.

The heads of state and government posed for a group photo.

In his opening remarks, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov greeted the Summit participants.

Addressing the event, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the ECO chairmanship passed on to Turkmenistan.

The event then heard speeches from other participants.

President Ilham Aliyev made a speech at the Summit.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

-Mr. Chairman, my dear brother Gurbanguly Malikguliyevich,

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,

Mr. Secretary-General,

I would like to express my gratitude to my brother, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Malikguliyevich Berdimuhamedov for the hospitality and congratulate Turkmenistan with successful chairmanship in the Economic Cooperation Organization.

Using this opportunity, I would like to congratulate brotherly Uzbekistan for assuming the ECO chairmanship and wish every success in leading the Organization.

Azerbaijan is an active member of ECO. Our relations with the ECO Member States are based on friendship and mutual respect.

We also enjoy fruitful cooperation with the ECO Member States within international platforms, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement.

During the 14th ECO Summit this March, the Charter of the ECO Research Center was signed. I express my gratitude to the Member States for supporting the initiative of the late President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev. Azerbaijan will do its utmost for the efficient functioning of the Center based in our country. I invite remaining Member States to join this important initiative.

Over the past 18 years, the economy of Azerbaijan has developed rapidly, and the gross domestic product increased more than three times.

Azerbaijan has achieved a favourable investment climate as a result of large-scale reforms. Azerbaijan is placed 28th out of 190 countries in the World Bank's Doing Business survey. Around $280 billion has been invested in Azerbaijani economy, half of which is foreign investment.

Our strategic foreign exchange reserves exceed our state external debt by over six times.

Azerbaijan's external debt accounts for only about 17.3 per cent of its gross domestic product. By the end of 2030, we plan to decrease it to 10%.

During the last 18 years, the poverty rate in Azerbaijan has decreased from 49% to 6%. The unemployment rate in the country is around 6%.

Azerbaijan's achievements are highly appreciated by the international institutions. The Davos World Economic Forum report ranks Azerbaijan in the 10th place for the long-term government strategy and 5th in the world in terms of the leadership's commitment to reform.

Again, according to the Davos report - Azerbaijan ranks the 2nd for electricity supply to the population, 11th for efficiency of railroad services, 12th for efficiency of air transportation services, 25th for efficiency of seaport services, and 27th for quality of road infrastructure.

As to the COVID-19, Azerbaijan has launched an immunization campaign since mid-January this year. Over 60 per cent of adult population in the country has received two shots.

So far, almost $3 billion of socio-economic stimulus package has been released to support COVID-affected people and business in the country. For the same purpose, $ 1.6 billion of financial assistance package will be allocated from the state budget in 2022.

Azerbaijan is making significant steps to mobilize global efforts against the pandemic. We have been persistently stressed our firm opposition against "vaccine nationalism".

This year, upon Azerbaijan’s initiative in its capacity as the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, resolutions on ensuring equitable access for all countries to vaccines were adopted at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly respectively.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan has provided financial and humanitarian assistance to about 80 countries directly and through World Health Organization to support their fight against the coronavirus.

Distinguished colleagues,

In 2020, Azerbaijan put an end to nearly 30 years of occupation of its territories by Armenia. The 44-day-long Patriotic War resulted in Armenia's defeat and being forced to sign an act of capitulation on 10 November 2020. Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity. Azerbaijan itself ensured the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions of 1993 demanding immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of armed forces of Armenia from occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

All cities and villages, including cultural and religious heritage sites of Azerbaijan have been totally wiped out by Armenia during the occupation. In total disrespect and hatred to all Muslims, Armenia has destroyed and desecrated our mosques, including by using them as stables for pigs and cows. 65 out of 67 mosques situated in the formerly occupied territories have been totally destroyed and the two remaining have been seriously damaged. Likewise, the graveyards have been vandalized.

We started large-scale reconstruction work immediately after the liberation, which has already yielded initial results. Azerbaijan is building new cities and towns from the scratch relying solely on its own financial resources. To that end, $1.3 billion has been released from the state budget this year. At least, the same amount will be allocated for this purpose in 2022.

I announced the liberated Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur as Green Energy Zone. The liberated territories have the proven potential of 7200 megawatts of solar energy and 2000 megawatts of wind energy.

At the last ECO summit, I informed my colleagues about the Zangazur corridor. Today I can say that the Zangazur corridor becomes a reality. This new transport infrastructure will be an

important part of the East-West and North-South corridors. I am confident that ECO Member States will benefit from this corridor.

Thank you for your attention.

 ***

Addressing the Summit President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Arif Alvi also extended his congratulations on Azerbaijan’s Victory in the Patriotic War and said:

Taking the advantage I would like to once again congratulate  President Ilham Aliyev on the liberation of Azerbaijan’s territories and restoration of its territorial integrity. I nhighly appreciate his contribution.

***

Then, secretary general of the Economic Cooperation Organization Khosrov Naziri, President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Zhaparov, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin underlined the importance of enhancing cooperation at the organization, further strengthening economic relations, spoke about the necessity of joint fight against threats emerging in light of new challenges.

 On November 28, an official dinner reception was hosted on behalf of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in honor of heads of state, government and delegations attending the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the reception.

 On November 28, a meeting was held between President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Arif Alvi in Ashgabat.

The sides hailed bilateral relations between the two countries. Pakistan’s firm and principled position in connection with the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, which is already in the past was emphasized.

During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on the development of relations between the two countries in various fields, emphasizing the role of the intergovernmental commission. They underlined that next meeting of the commission would be held soon.

The sides also noted the importance of recent high-level visits between the two countries. At the same time, the presidents exchanged views on matters related to joint cooperation within international organizations. They expressed concerns over the growing Islamophobic tendencies in the world.

The importance of increasing people-to-people contacts between the two countries and the further strengthening of cooperation in tourism, business circles, culture, science and other fields was underlined at the meeting.

The President of Pakistan once again thanked the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for the projects implemented in his country.

***

 On November 28, a meeting was held between President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon in Ashgabat.

The sides hailed the political relations between the two countries. They exchanged views on the expansion of economic and trade relations, as well as reviewing transport opportunities and further strengthening of bilateral cooperation within international organizations.

***

On November 28, a meeting was held between President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi in Ashgabat.

President Ilham Aliyev: Hello.

President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi: Greetings. How are you?

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, I am very well.

President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi: Are you well?

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much, I am alright. It is a pleasure to see you.

President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi: I am also very pleased to meet you at the ECO Summit. The Summit of the heads of state of the ECO member states has been a very good opportunity for us to meet. Your officials, both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, have had very good contacts with the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister's visit to Tehran was very successful. According to the information I have, very positive discussions were held at these meetings. I am confident that such contacts and discussions will contribute to the development of relations between our two countries. The issues arising in the relations between our countries can be resolved within the framework of such contacts and visits.

Our relations with the Republic of Azerbaijan are not only neighborly, they are the relations of our hearts. The hearts of the peoples of the two countries beat together. We have a union of history and civilization. All this brings us even closer together. We must never allow others to interfere in our relations. We must resolve our own problems, work together to advance our relations and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. Experience so far shows that when we discuss our issues ourselves, we manage to resolve many of them and overcome the obstacles. Let me tell you with certainty and confidence that one of the first countries to recognize and support the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan was the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the Karabakh issue was also transparent and unambiguous. The position of all officials in Iran’s state bodies, starting from the supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution, was that the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan should not be compromised and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan should be ensured. We are confident that the talks and discussions between the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan with their Iranian counterparts will further deepen, move forward and strengthen our relations. Please, we are at your service.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much, dear Mr. President, I am pleased to see you. I am very glad that such a wonderful opportunity has arisen for the meeting. This is our first meeting. I am confident that this meeting will give a very strong impetus to the development of Iranian-Azerbaijani relations.

President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi: This will definitely be the case.

President Ilham Aliyev: We attach great importance to relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Our peoples are fraternal peoples. We have lived together for centuries. Our relations are also quite broad. Our peoples share a common history and culture. This is a very beautiful ground. We are writing the modern history of bilateral relations on this basis.

***

 The sides hailed the high level of relations and pointed to the existence of good neighborly and friendly ties between the two countries.

During the conversation, the sides discussed issues of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Iran within the North-South transport corridor, as well as the Zangazur transport corridor. It was emphasized that as a result of the implementation of the Zangazur corridor, Iran would also benefit from it by using this transport hub.

The sides noted that the geopolitical situation in the region had changed after the historic victory of Azerbaijan in the second Karabakh war, and stressed the importance of regional countries’ participation in the solution of regional issues.

The presidents also discussed issues of creating an energy hub between the two countries, as well as amongst Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran. The sides also exchanged views on cooperation, economic and trade relations within international organizations.

During the conversation, the presidents reiterated that Iranian-Azerbaijani relations were of a historical nature and pointed to the friendly relations between the two peoples.

At the end of the meeting, the “Agreement defining the terms of transit of natural gas through the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran” was signed with the participation of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Iran.

***

After the signing of the agreement, the heads of state were interviewed by the Iranian media.

President Ilham Aliyev: We have had a very good conversation. As friends and brothers, we have exchanged views on Iranian-Azerbaijani relations. We have decided that from now on, Iranian-Azerbaijani relations will develop in all areas. Our peoples are fraternal peoples, our countries are fraternal countries, and the issues discussed today show again that Iranian-Azerbaijani relations are at a very high level.

Correspondent: A document has been signed. What would you say about that?

President Ilham Aliyev: The document has been signed, and it is very important. It is a historic document. It shows again how deep Iranian-Azerbaijani relations are. Azerbaijan will receive Turkmen gas via Iran. This is a very good basis for trilateral cooperation and shows our intentions. The signed document is of great importance in terms of economic and energy security. Thank you.

Correspondent: Mr. President, you have been working hard. Today, your had talks with the Muslim country of Azerbaijan. What is your take on that?

President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi: Our relations with Azerbaijan are cultural, friendly and sincere. The history of our relations is very old. There should be no misunderstanding in this relationship. We had a good meeting with the esteemed President of the Republic of Azerbaijan today and discussed issues of interest between the two countries. The gas agreement signed today between Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan will serve the development of relations between our countries, the relations between two and three countries. It is necessary to take serious and numerous steps in this area, and thanks to the will of the two countries, the relations between us, including cooperation in the economic, trade, transit and cultural spheres, should aim to expand the ties between the two countries. The history of our relations is ancient and must continue to expand and develop.

Correspondent: Thank you.

 On November 28, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ashgabat.

They reiterated that the friendly and brotherly relations between the two countries are of the nature of a strategic alliance.

During the conversation, the sides touched upon the discussions held within the Economic Cooperation Organization and praised Turkey's chairmanship in the organization over the past period.

The sides also exchanged views on the further development of relations between the two countries in various fields, as well as the ongoing processes and the current situation in the South Caucasus in the post-conflict period.

The presidents also discussed the energy and transport issues.

On November 28, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev completed his visit to Turkmenistan.

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