On November 9, 2023, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov took part in the 16th Summit of the Council of Heads of Countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

The Summit held in Tashkent under the motto “Together for economic stability and development” was attended by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyed Ebrahim-Raisi, the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, the President of the Republic of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov, Acting Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Anwaar ul-Haq Kakar. The Summit was also attended by ECO Secretary General Khusrav Noziri.

The agenda of the Summit included issues of further development of trade, economic, investment, transport, communications and humanitarian cooperation within the framework of the ECO, as well as the possibility of improving the mechanism of activity of this multilateral structure.

Addressing his welcoming speech, the President of Uzbekistan noted that the current summit meeting is a clear confirmation of the determination of the ECO member countries to expand a comprehensive partnership on the path of common development.

As noted, exactly two years ago the 15th Summit of the Organization was successfully held in Ashgabat. Important decisions taken at the meeting in Turkmenistan brought new breath into the activities of the structure.

Particular emphasis was placed on the ongoing comprehensive work to reform and improve the efficiency of the ECO, and the growth of its authority in the international arena. The Uzbek leader especially emphasized that the current historic Summit and its results will serve to further establish the Organization as an effective and efficient structure and bring the multifaceted partnership to new levels.

Then the President of Uzbekistan gave the floor to the Chairman of the 15th ECO Summit - President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov.

The head of the Turkmen state thanked the Uzbek leader for organizing the 16th ECO Summit at a high level, for the warm hospitality and respect shown.

President Serdar Berdimuhamedov said that the current summit meeting is taking place at a time when we are directly faced with serious geopolitical challenges that have a direct impact on the development and trends of the global economy, noting that at the same time, these challenges, despite their complex nature, open new perspectives.

As emphasized, issues such as the constructive and effective use of these opportunities, the use of all the favorable advantages of the Economic Cooperation Organization in the context of modern geo-economic transformations, should become the key task of the ECO in the near future. In this regard, the head of Turkmenistan stated the presence of all necessary conditions.

From this point of view, the importance of the 15th ECO Summit held in Ashgabat on November 28, 2021, which was full of significant initiatives and events gave new impetus to joint activities, was noted. The “Ashgabat Consensus for Action” adopted there, being the main document, includes all key areas of cooperation, in particular, trade, transport, communications, energy, industry and economic development, as well as issues such as social security, environment, climate change, etc.

Based on the documents, decisions and agreements adopted at the 15th Summit, we need to quickly determine the main areas of interaction, analyze important issues and begin their practical implementation, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov continued, emphasizing that, in accordance with the position of Turkmenistan, he considers it appropriate to focus on some key aspects that are currently of particular importance.

First of all, the emphasis was placed on the need to develop mutually beneficial cooperation in the trade, economic and investment spheres, which today are among the main directions for the development of relations within the ECO.

In this context, the Head of State recalled that in 2021, during its chairmanship of the Economic Cooperation Organization, Turkmenistan proposed to begin the creation of economic corridors in the ECO region, which are considered as a system of sustainable main routes for the promotion of goods, services and financial resources.

In order to increase trade turnover between the countries of the Organization, it was noted that cross-border and regional trade opportunities should be actively used. In this context, there is valuable experience, centuries-old traditions and customs of our peoples that require revival, use and enrichment, taking into account the realities of our time. To do this, it is necessary to create a favorable transboundary environment and stimulate regional cooperation, which represents a system of contractual advantages and priorities, the Head of Turkmenistan said.

It is obvious that the joint economic partnership will develop successfully and become truly effective in the presence of modern transport and communication networks covering absolutely the entire ECO space. The importance of Eurasian transport corridors as a driving force for the prosperity of the entire continent is clearly confirmed and increased. The Organization has a key place in this work, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov emphasized, saying that the construction of roads, bridges, hubs, warehouses, terminals and other structures that are important infrastructure facilities is perceived as one of the main areas of cooperation. From a practical point of view, it was proposed to consider the issue of creating Joint transport and logistics centers with the participation of relevant government bodies and private companies.

It was also noted that Turkmenistan pays special attention to the creation of interregional transport and transit corridors with the ECO countries, highlighting among the priority areas the issues of establishing multimodal cargo transportation from China through Central Asia with access to the ports of the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea.

Along with this, the importance for the Organization of implementing targeted and coordinated transport diplomacy in the international arena, active work with the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and international and regional transport organizations was emphasized.

Energy was named another important vector of joint activity. The fact that world energy markets are in a globally unstable state dictates that one of the main tasks of the ECO is the development of an appropriate effective model of cooperation. This, first of all, is necessary to meet the growing energy needs of our countries in order to increase the capacity of new industrial complexes and agriculture, build infrastructure facilities and launch joint production projects, the head of state noted.

As is known, Turkmenistan has put forward a number of large energy projects, in which some ECO countries also participate, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov emphasized, inviting partner countries to expand cooperation in the energy sector in order to create an energy supply system that includes the ECO space. For its part, Turkmenistan is ready to increase the volume of supplies of natural gas and electricity to the ECO states through the currently available capacities and those that will be built in the future.

During the subsequent presentations, proposals were made to develop effective tools for improving regional trade, in particular, such as the ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) and a trade facilitation strategy in order to increase the volume of trade between the member countries of the Organization.

At the same time, measures aimed at developing transport infrastructure in the region were considered.

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On the sidelines of the past Summit, members of the government delegation of Turkmenistan held bilateral meetings in the ministries and industry departments of Uzbekistan.  

During the negotiations, the main topics of discussion were issues of interstate interaction between foreign policy departments, between financial and economic structures, in the energy sector, in industries and construction production, as well as in the media.