Secretary General’s Visit of Azerbaijan
The Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), H.E. Dr. Hadi Soleimanpour represented the ECO in the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Baku on 2nd of May 2019. The Forum was inaugurated by H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
During the visit, the Secretary General was also received by the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov. At the outset, Secretary General congratulated the Foreign Minister for the successful organization of the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue. He briefed his host about ECO’s recent initiatives as well as the ECO reform process. Dr. Hadi Soleimanpour specifically informed the Foreign Minister about the latest developments made by the organization in the Tourism sector. He mentioned that in order to realize this important strategic goal of the ECO vision 2025, ECO is in the process of developing a Regional Strategy and Action Plan for Sustainable Tourism. At the operational level, ECO is endeavoring to organize a “Tour Operators Network in ECO Region.” Furthermore, he informed the Minister about the launching of the tourism cruise liner along Azerbaijan-Iran-Turkmenistan.
Dr. Soleimanpour briefed the Foreign Minister about the role of ECO Trade and Development Bank (ETDB) and informed that the primary objective of the Bank is to provide financial resources for regional projects. He particularly mentioned the utilization of financial resources of the Bank in transport and infrastructure sector. On Regional Connectivity, ECO Secretary General informed the Minister that regional connectivity carried a particular importance in ECO’s objectives. In this regard, he highlighted the significance of various corridors in the region. He mentioned the progress on construction of Qazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan) railway line which is an important part of International North – South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and East-North corridor linking the ECO region to European region through Azerbaijan.
In the Energy field, the ECO Secretary General referred establishment of ECO Regional Electricity Market (ECO-REM) as pivotal and promising ECO project initiative. He added that Azerbaijan with its huge electricity potential, could take advantage of this ECO initiative by exporting its excess electricity production. He also informed the Minister about the progress on establishment of ECO Clean Energy Centre (CECECO).
The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan underlined the significance of ECO as regional economic organization and in order to enhance commercial activities in the region, he mentioned that connectivity is a primary and the most important component. Mr. Mammadyarov offered support of Azerbaijan to the regional economic projects implemented in the ECO region. Highlighting the regional projects initiated by Azerbaijan, he was of the view that other ECO member states might benefit from those projects.
The two sides also exchanged views on cooperation in trade, information and communication technologies, transport, logistics, connectivity and other spheres within the Economic Cooperation Organization. In the end of the meeting, the Secretary General thanked the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan for providing his kind guidance on various regional issues. On his part, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan reiterated Azerbaijan’s full support towards ECO and accomplishment of the objectives of the organization.
The ECO Secretary General also participated in the High Level Ministerial Panel of the 5thWorld Forum on Intercultural Dialogue under the title “Mobilizing Intercultural Dialogue for Concrete Transformative Action”. On the sidelines of the Forum, he also exchanged views on common interest with various key dignitaries including Mr. Miguel Moratinos, the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).