ECO in path of promoting regional synergy

Tehran, April 19, IRNA – The 23rd meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was held on Tuesday in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe and Iran was appointed as the organization’s secretary general for a three-year period ending 2020.

Among the resolutions approved in the meeting were backing Iran’s accession to the World Trade Organization and condemning efforts by some states to procrastinate this process by creating obstacles.

In 1996, the Islamic Republic of Iran officially submitted its request for membership in the WTO to the organization’s secretariat. Having been rejected 21 times, the request was eventually accepted in 2005 after receiving approval from 148 WTO members, including the US, and Iran was granted observer status in the organization.

The WTO Secretariat has not yet responded to Iran’s trade regime submitted to the organization in 2011.

The other resolution passed in the 23rd ECO foreign ministers’ meeting pertained to approving the amending protocol of the agreement relating to the ECO Regional Institute for Standardization headquartered in Iran.

In this meeting, foreign ministers of the ECO member-states also assessed the progress of the organization and its member-states on achieving the goals and responsibilities stipulated in the ECO Vision 2025, drawing up a new plan to assist Afghanistan as well as examining the administrative and financial issues of the organization.

The ECO was formally established by Iran, Turkey and Pakistan in 1985 as the successor Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which remained in existence from 1964 to 1979.

RCD was a multi-governmental organization which was originally established on July 21, 1964 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, regional members of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), to allow socio-economic development of the member states. COM is the highest policy and decision-making body of ECO. It comprises the ministers of foreign affairs of the member states who meet in regular, informal and extraordinary sessions.

ECO is the Muslim World’s biggest economic formation. The Treaty of Izmir, which was originally signed on March 12, 1977, by the three founding member states and amended in 1990, 1992 and 1996 is the basic Charter of the ECO.

The objectives of the ECO, as laid down in the Treaty of Izmir, include mobilization of economic and social potentials of the region for promoting sustainable economic development and raising standards of living and quality of life in the member states, expansion of intra and interregional trade and encouragement of active regional collaboration and mutual assistance in economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields.

Activities of the ECO are conducted through those directorates at the Secretariat: Trade and Investment, Transport and Telecommunications, Energy, Minerals and Environment, Agriculture, Industry and Tourism, Human Resources and Sustainable Development and Project and Economic Research and Statistics.

At present, the 10 member states of the ECO are Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Among the other objectives of the ECO are promoting synergy between the private and state-run sectors within the member states with an emphasis on accelerating economic liberalization, helping promote trade between the regional states and the rest of the world, expanding the member states’ economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific cooperation with each other and drawing up plan for the joint exploitation of natural resources.

Many economic experts maintain that although ECO member states have close relations with each other given their civilizational, religious, cultural and historical commonalities, their geographical proximity is among the biggest reasons why the fate of the people in these countries are tied to each other.
Therefore, developments in any of these countries will impact the rest of the member states.

Addressing the 23rd meeting of ECO foreign ministers, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the destinies of all ECO member states are intertwined, warning of the persistent threat of violent extremism in the region even after the end of Daesh terrorists’ self-proclaimed caliphate.

He added, “Violent extremism continues to represent a threat to the ECO region. Despite the territorial defeat of Daesh and other terrorist groups and the destruction of their self-proclaimed caliphate, extensive networks of extremist groups, especially Daesh in West, South and Central Asia, represent the most serious threat to the ECO region.”

He noted that many parts of the region have been destabilized for close to two decades due to the mutually reinforcing foreign intervention, terrorism and extremism.

The top Iranian diplomat underlined that Iran has always been willing to cooperate in drawing up a “comprehensive counter-extremism and terrorism strategy that fits the situation” in the region.

ECO is currently faced with a large number of challenges and problems in the fields of environment and economy among which are climate change, drought, destruction of the environment, and dust particles or dust storms. These problems can be solved by synergizing efforts and working out effective solutions while it is not yet too late.

Moreover, given the global economy’s status quo and the occurrence of recent crisis, enhancing cooperation within the framework of such regional organizations can prove a safe haven for not being adversely impacted by the consequences of the international economic fluctuations and turmoil.

Source: Iran Daily

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