The Extraordinary Summit Meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization was held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on 13-14 May, 1997. The meeting presided over by His Excellency Mr. Saparmurat Niyazov, President of Turkmenistan, was attended by:
- H.E. Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan;
- H.E. Mr. Heydar Aliyev,
- H.E. Mr. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,
- H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbaev,
- H.E. Mr. A. Jumagulov,
- H.E. Mr. Mohammad Nawaz Sharif,
- H.E. Mr. Emomali Rakhmanov,
- H.E. Mr. Suleyman Demirel,
- H.E. Mr. Saparmurat Niyazov, President of Turkmenistan; and
- H.E. Mr. Islam Karimov,
The Heads of State/Government held, in a cordial and brotherly atmosphere, exchange of views on issues of common interest in the fields of transport, communication and energy. In this context the Heads of State/Government:
Mindful of the provisions of the Treaty of Izmir, the Quetta Plan of Action, Istanbul Declaration, Islamabad Declaration, the Ashgabat Summit Declaration 1996 and the emphasis laid in the Economic Cooperation Strategy for the ECO region on pursuing the stipulated goals in the priority areas of trade, transport, communications and energy focusing, in particular, upon the provision of transit facilitation measures for energy, oil and gas pipelines and other energy resources as well as their access to international markets;
Reaffirming their resolve to build and strengthen the physical infrastructure linking the ECO member countries to each other and with international markets through viable road, railway, sea and air connections and routes as well as networks of oil and gas pipelines;
Reiterating the concern for accelerating the process of regional cooperation in the priority areas of transport and communications, trade and energy as underlined in the Ashgabat Declaration adopted during the Fourth ECO Summit Meeting;
Expressing satisfaction on the completion of important projects and programmes and conclusion of arrangements envisaging multilateral cooperation in the fields of transport, communications and energy;
Considering the urgency for the expeditious implementation of the remaining projects and programmes for the development of transport and communication sectors within the framework of the Almaty Outline Plan;
Recalling UN General Assembly Resolutions No.48 and 40 underlining the problems arising out of the geographical location of Central Asian States and subsequently the positive affirmation made in the Resolution of UN General Assembly during its fifty-first session incorporating the world body’s acknowledgement of ECO’s potential and resources as a “permanent body for intra-regional cooperation, consultation and coordination in order to enhance economic, social and cultural development”, the concrete steps undertaken so far to provide the land-locked countries of the region further access to other regions and the need for various entities of the United Nations System to join efforts towards the implementation of economic projects and programmes of ECO;
Endorsed the following to reiterate and incorporate their commitment to promote the well-being of the peoples of the ECO region through concerted efforts in the transport, communication and energy sectors:
1. The Programme of Action for ECO Transport and Communication Decade and the construction of oil and gas pipelines in the ECO region be recognized as an urgent need and priority goal.
2. To evolve a mutually agreed tariff policy and seek harmony of technical standards for the railway transport of the ECO region, recommendations may be formulated by the concerned experts of the respective countries to ensure successful development and effective operation of Trans-Asian railway and to facilitate expansion of trade, tourism and economic cooperation among ECO countries.
3. The inauguration of Tejen-Seraks-Mashhad railway line as bridgeheads linking the Central Asian member countries and Azerbaijan to the ports in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea as well as with European countries through road and railway connection to Black Sea and Mediterranean ports via Turkey and the finalization of arrangements for the use of Karakoram highway for facilitating commercial and trade exchanges among Member States are positive developments. Existing expertise and resources in the ECO region be mobilized to complete the inter-connection of road and railway routes including the construction of missing links.
In this regard, the concerned authorities in the Member States may undertake necessary measures towards completion of remaining road and railway links within the ECO region as envisaged in the Almaty Outline Plan providing Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with access to adequate sea port facilities of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey with special priority to the transit roads connecting Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with the ports of Karachi and Gawadar through Afghanistan, in accordance with their mutual agreements.
Similarly, priority be given to the completion of railway lines between Kerman and Zahedan; Bafq and Mashhad, Kars-Aktas-Boyuk-Kasik-Baku, expeditious implementation of feasibility studies, surveys and engineering, construction works and upgrading in the Kushka-Herat-Kandahar-Chaman and Termez-Khairaton-Mazar Sharif-Herat-Kandahar-Chaman, Andijan-Torugart railway lines as well as Eraliev-Turkmenbashi-Gazanjyk-Bender Torkeman and between Astara (Azerbaijan)-Rasht-Qazvin; and Kuliab-Kalay-Khumb-Khorog-Murgab-Karakorum Highway, Almaty-Bishkek-Torugart-Gilgit-Hassanabdal and Andizhan-osh-Irkeshtam, Nizhiniy Pyanj-Sherkan Bander-Kabul and Beneu-Akiigit-Kungrat-Khojeylli roads, Termez-Hairatan-Mazari Sharif-Kabul-Jalalabad-Peshawar-Karachi, Herat-Frah-Kandahar-Quetta-Karachi/Gwadar, Roads connecting Ashgabat with the port (s) of Karachi/Gawadar passing through Sinboldok-Kandahar-Herat and the road linking Termez with Herat through Shebergan-Maimana. Chahoahar-Zahedan Railway, Arak-Khosravi Railway, Kerman-Ravar-Dhyhuk roadway, Kerman-Shahdad-Nehbandan-Zabol, Poldasht to Marand-Urumieh, Sanandaj, Khorramabad, Ahvaz, Khorramshahr, Abadan, and Bandar Imam roadway, Miyane-Ardebil-Parsabad (Iran)-Imishli (Azerbaijan), Sadarak (Azerbaijan)-Kars (Turkey) Balykchi-Osh-Andizhan, Baku-Guymyzy Korpu-Hopa-Trabzon Highway, construction of road bridges across Amudarya river in district Farab.
The Ministers of Transport, in their forthcoming meeting scheduled to be held at Ashgabat in December 1997 shall review and finalize the above routes as part of the Programme of Action for Transport and Communication Decade in the ECO region.
4. Concrete steps be taken to expedite the development and operation of Istanbul-Tehran Mashhad-Seraks-Tejen-Charjev-Tashkent-Almaty-Aktogai-Druzbha Trans-Asian Railways which is titled as “Silk Railway Route” and the route Ashgabat-Turkmenistan-Baku of the TRACECA project to promote international trade and socio-cultural interaction among the people of the region.
5. In view of the urgent need for the development of ECO region’s rolling-stocks, a close cooperation of ECO Member States be promoted for manufacturing and repairing of locomotives, passenger carriages, freight cars containers and other railway equipment, using ECO countries own resources as well as preferential credits of international financial institutions issued under the guarantee of the Governments of ECO Member States and other financial source.
6. Possibility of establishing regional consortiums to develop ECO road and railway networks and road infrastructure in conformity with international standards may be examined by the concerned experts in the Member States and submitted for consideration during the next ECO Summit Meeting.
The conclusion of an Agreement between Kazakstan and Turkmenistan for the establishment of a consortium under the chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Saparmurat Niyazov, the President of Turkmenistan to construct missing railway link on Eraliev-Bekdash-Turkmenbashi-Bender Torkmen or Ozen-Gyzylgaya-Gazanjyk-Bender Torkeman of the North-South transport corridor is a concrete input in the regional cooperation. Other ECO Member States may also consider their participation in order to extend the scope and positive results of this venture on a multilateral basis.
7. The operationalization of ECO Shipping Company signifies the potential that the ECO region possesses in developing and promoting the trade and commercial relations of the member countries with each other as well as with other regions. Those Member States which are not signatory to this project may consider the possibility of their joining it and extending assistance and facilities to ensure efficient and successful operation of the Company.
8. In order to facilitate the operationalization of the ECO Air for the movement of passengers and cargo, those Member States which are not signatory to this project may facilitate the proper, efficient and successful operation of ECO Air project.
9. Since TAEFOS (Trans-Asian-European Fiber Optic System) linking all the countries of the region is expected to be operational in 1997, ACIS System (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s automated system for customs data) compatible with other systems may be introduced in each ECO Member State with the technical assistance of UNCTAD/UNDP.
10. Expedite formulation and finalization of the draft transit transport framework agreement with the technical assistance of the Islamic Development Bank, ESCAP and UNCTAD.
11. To promote trade within the ECO region, ECO Member States should finalize the establishment of their Guaranteeing Associations in accordance with the provisions of the Customs Convention on International Transportation of Goods (Carnet TIR 1975).
12. With the completion of requisite formalities, the ECO Transit Trade Agreement shall come in force in near future. In this regard, the establishment of the Committee on Transit Trade during 1997 in Ashgabat would facilitate commercial interaction and flow of goods within the ECO region.
13. With its rich natural resources in the fields of oil, gas and electricity, trained manpower and infrastructure, ECO region has the potential and resources to become one of the prosperous regions of the world. Regional cooperation in these fields and maximum utilization of the existing resources and potential of ECO Member States will prompt complementarities of their economies, enhance productivity, technical and economic viability, optimal utilization of energy supply and contribute to their improvement of ECO region’s socio-economic environment.
In pursuance of above, a High Level Experts Task Group be set up to recommend within a specific time frame measures for the expeditious implementation of agreed projects, determine viable future routes within the overall regional perspective and suggest policy courses envisaging oil and gas pipelines providing land-locked oil and gas producing ECO member countries with safe, stable and economically expedient access to international markets within as well as across the ECO region, according to bilateral and multilateral agreements.
14.Ensuring a meaningful development of economic cooperation and providing the land-locked oil and gas producing ECO member countries with access to world markets is to be recognized as an urgent need. In this regard, the possibility of the establishment of regional consortiums to construct the following oil and gas pipelines may be considered:
Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Afghanistan to Pakistan;
Central Asia to Persian Gulf via Iran.
- Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey to Europe;
- Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan.
In addition to the above routes, Turkmenistan has proposed a new gas pipeline starting from Turkmenistan to East Asia via Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan as well as from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan through Caspian Sea and to Turkey which shall also be considered by an Adhoc Committee as soon as possible.
In this regard, ECO member countries may also furnish competitive and economically most profitable projects envisaging oil and gas exploration, development and transportation to ECO Secretariat, which shall arrange and coordinate an Adhoc Committee to examine and prepare a framework document including agreed technical and other policies in the field of oil and gas transportation and submit it to the next ECO Summit.
15. In order to promote safe and effective parallel functioning of power systems of ECO Member States and bearing in mind the decisions contained in the Quetta Plan of Action adopted on 6-7 February, 1993, the parties endorse the establishment of a joint power system of the region.
16. An ECO Permanent Commission on Trnasport and Communications be established. Working mechanism of this permanent body which is agreed to be located in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan be worked out and approved by the Council of Ministers.
The participating Heads of State/Government expressed their gratitutde and profound appreciation to the President of Turkmenistan and the Government and the people of Turkmenistan for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality extended to them during their stay in Turkmenistan and for the excellent arrangement made for the Extraordinary Summit Meeting.
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