Turkish President Abdullah Gul extended on Thursday an invitation to those members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) who have not yet signed the ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) to sign the Agreement.
Gul said that Turkey, located at the center of Eurasia, attached a great importance to peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region.
Delivering opening remarks at the 11th summit of the heads of state and government of the ECO in Istanbul's Ciragan Palace, President Gul said that he invited all ECO members, aside from the founders of ECO (Turkey, Iran and Pakistan), to become partner of the ECO Trade and Development Bank.
Gul said, "we are working to establish regional dialogue and cooperation mechanisms and develop regional economic cooperation projects within this context."
It should be our priority to make the old Silk Road a corridor of energy, trade, communication and transportation to promote the welfare of our respective countries, Gul said.
It should also be a priority to improve the railroad connecting Istanbul with Islamabad via Tehran and connect all ECO countries with Europe. I want to express that Turkey is ready to cooperate and make investments in this direction, Gul also said.
Gul said that he would like to thank Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad who elected Gul as the term president of the ECO. President Gul congratulated Ahmadinejad on his achievements during his presidency.
ECO countries which were located at a very important region between the East and the West had a population over 400 million, he said. ECO countries had rich natural resources and a great historical heritage, he said.
Recalling that ECO 2015 vision document was approved in the meeting in Astana in 2005, Gul said that they agreed on several goals that would be fulfilled by 2015 in the areas of trade, transportation, communication, energy, environment, agriculture and industry.
Gul said ECO countries had failed to make sufficient progress in dealing with poverty and hunger and providing education to all.
President Gul said Turkey, as a country which already attained majority of the UN Millennium Goals, was ready to help ECO countries overcome those problems.
Gul pointed out that the enhancement of intra-regional trade and private sector ventures between the ECO member countries would contribute to the overall welfare and stability of the region, citing the area of energy as a major domain of cooperation.
He said ECO region, home to vast oil, natural gas and hydro energy resources, emerged as an alternative in energy security and diversification of energy resources in global markets.
"In this respect, making rational use of rich energy resources in the region, and reaching stable and well established international markets are crucial," Gul said.
Gul highlighted the shortcomings in securing food safety in the ECO region, noting that the Regional Program Coordination Unit to be established in Ankara, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization would give momentum to efforts in this direction.
He said enhancement of the cooperation among ECO countries against organised crimes and illegal drugs was also important.
Gul concluded his remarks by expressing his hope that the Istanbul Declaration to be adopted at the end of the summit would give dynamism to the organization.
Related news reports:Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2010, 14:36