ECO Secretary General paid an Official visit to Baku
ECO delegation led by the ECO Secretary General H.E. Ambassador Halil Ibrahim Akca paid an official visit to Baku on 27-29 January 2016. During the visit Secretary General was received by H.E. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and had also meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Economy, H.E. Mr. Shahin Mustafayev and Dr. Vilayat Valiyev, Director of “Institute for Scientific Research on Economic Reforms”.
Meeting with the President of Republic
On January 28, the Secretary General was received by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev. Stressing the importance of Azerbaijan's good bilateral relations, as well as political and economic ties with ECO Member States, President Aliyev highlighted that Azerbaijan is keen to pursue regional cooperation within ECO framework. President also recalled the last ECO Summit in Baku (October 2012). He stressed the significance of economic cooperation, particularly enhancement of intra-regional trade among the Member States at a time when economic difficulties and crisis affected the world economy.
Describing Azerbaijan as one of the active members of ECO with strong sense of ownership, Secretary General informed the President about ECO Research Centre in Baku and issues related to its early functioning; current ECO reform process and preparation of ECO Vision 2025; as well as issues related to next ECO Summit in Pakistan. President Aliyev assured that Azerbaijan will continue supporting ECO activities, particularly those pertaining to trade facilitation and investment promotion and any additional proposals for strengthening mutually beneficial ties will be welcomed. The meeting also concluded with this understanding that the Charter of ECO Research Center (ERC) in Baku will be ratified by the Azerbaijani Parliament.
Meeting with Foreign Minister
On January 27, the Delegation met the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov. Secretary General emphasized his satisfaction with the current state of ECO – Azerbaijan affairs and for active involvement of the Government of Azerbaijan in various ECO activities. He stressed that developments of past years reinforced common belief in necessity of reforms within ECO, and the last ECO Summit back in 2012 in Baku paved new horizons and ambitious goals for Organization to become more dynamic and project-oriented regional grouping. Ambassador Akca briefed the Minister about current reform process and preparation of ECO Vision 2025 coherent with regional and global challenges and trends. Secretary General also talked about the establishment of ERC, as well as other projects of common interest.
Minister noted the great potential in the fields of intraregional trade, transport and multimodal corridors, connectivity and information technologies, including Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM) - transnational fiber-optic line, energy, particularly transmission of electricity lines and power trade among ECO Member States. Minister further noted that development of transport infrastructure will enhance integration trends and in this regard highlighted special importance of Qazvin-Rasht-Astara-Astara and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway routes for the Region.
Meeting with the Minister of Economy
On January 29 the delegation met the Minister of Economy Mr. Shahin Mustafayev. Minister informed that Azerbaijan joined ECO-TDB in 2013 and is eager to be more involved in projects for transit and trade facilitation, investment and export promotion. Minister noted transit hub revenues and other economic benefits his country might get once North-South and China-Central Asia-Europe transport corridors become operational. Highlighting importance of energy cooperation and vital energy routes in connecting the region with world markets, he briefed about Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) with three essential components - South Caucasus Pipeline, Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
Secretary General noted ongoing reform process within ECO and informed about Vision-2025 process. He underscored importance of contributions and submissions from Member States during preparation of new Vision and informed that prior to the ECO Summit to be held in 2016 the Secretariat is planning to convene Meeting of ECO Ministers responsible for development and planning to consolidate and wrap-up all Vision-related communications submitted by concerned stakeholders. Ambassador Akca also requested the Ministry of Economy to consider joining upcoming ECOTA events as an observer to get better insights and orientation without any commitments.
Visit to Institute for Scientific Research on Economic Reforms
On January 27, delegation met with Dr. Vilayat Valiyev, Director of Institute for Scientific Research on Economic Reforms under the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan and Editor-in-Chief of ECO Economy Journal. The two sides exchanged views on ways and means to follow up the key recommendations of previous ECO decision-making bodies on early operationalization of ERC and deliberated on possible applicability of ERC in formulation and implementation of regional projects in areas of common interest for further submission to policy-makers and relevant agencies. Secretary General pointed out potential importance of affiliated bodies like ERC in vigorous cultivation of scientific, research and policy linkages through regional and international bodies which will enable ECO to freely tap into the vast pool of international experience and expertise.
Dr. Valiyev briefed about key action areas of the Institute, including, but not limited to designing Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models, input-output models and partnership frameworks with major stakeholder groups across and beyond the Region. It was underlined that Azerbaijani Government will submit ERC Charter and other statutory documents to the Parliament for Ratification in line with Article VIII "Entry into Force" of the Charter.