FM: Occupation of Azerbaijani territories – obstacle to economic growth
Today, when the world still experience the impacts of global economic slowdown, energy, transportation and other interrelated components of connectivity are becoming more promising for economic and trade growth of our countries, said Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
Mammadyarov made the remarks at the extraordinary session of Council of Ministers of the ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) member states in New York, US.
Therefore, it is important to highlight the development of transport and connectivity issues in general among priority areas, as an essential prerequisite for the regional trade development, he noted.
Azerbaijan together with regional and international partners has contributed to regional cooperation by initiating and implementing energy and transportation projects, said the minister.
“We are actively participating in implementation of the International North-South and East-West Transport Corridors,” he added.
Mammadyarov said also that the establishment of the Trans-Caspian International Route and construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project, expected to be operational next year, are among the important projects.
“We are convinced that an early completion of the Gazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan) railway project, which is a part of the North-South Transport Corridor, will give a new impetus to economic growth, expand transport opportunities for involved countries, as well as the whole region,” said the minister.
Another promising sphere of common interest is enhancing synergy in sustainable development, including in the area of sustainable energy resources in line with the new “2030 Agenda” and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he noted.
“We are closely observing the recent trends and developments for establishment of ECO regional electricity market,” said Mammadyarov.
Azerbaijan also initiated the establishment of Data Information Network (DIN) on Renewable Energy Sources in Baku, according to the minister.
Azerbaijan through its practical activities continues to contribute to the goals and objectives of the ECO, he said.
“This year we will host the 4th ECO Business Forum that will contribute to enhance intra-regional trade and investment, as well as economic growth and development in the ECO region,” he added.
Among priority areas of cooperation within the ECO is development of regional activities to tackle environmental challenges. “As a part of this agenda Azerbaijan has joined to global efforts on combating climate change towards global climate resilience via submission of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) and signing of Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Current fruitful cooperation in science and research increase the capacity of ECO in identification and preparation of ECO projects, noted Mammadyarov.
“In this connection, we believe that the early establishment of the ECO Research Centre in Baku will give its contribution to ECO’s future development via elaborating efficient economic projects, research programs, as well as economic patterns for the regional states,” he added.
“Also we deem it expedient to promote the implementation of regionally beneficial projects and closer cooperation with UN specialized agencies and international financial institutions to successfully implement economic projects of regional character,” he said.
“We should focus on core priorities common for the member states and the whole region, inter alia, transport, alternative energy, trade and investments, agriculture, information technology and tourism,” noted the minister.
“At previous Council meetings we stressed the necessity to find creative ways and means to improve the existing mechanism of cooperation within the organization,” said Mammadyarov.
He also noted that the new ECO Vision 2016-2025, which is currently under elaboration, needs to reflect the interests of all member states. This reforming process should aim to enhance efficiency of current institutions and activities within the ECO.
Azerbaijan supports the reforming process that through joint efforts can provide a possibility for elaboration of actions for further development of the ECO, he said.
Without the settlement of protracted conflicts and ensuring security and stability in the region, ECO will fail to reap the benefits from comprehensive regional cooperation, noted the minister.
The ongoing military occupation of the Azerbaijani territories by Armenia still remains as a major source of instability and impediment to the economic development, said Mammadyarov.
The withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories and ensuring the return of the refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes will not only contribute to peace and security in the South Caucasus, but also enhance full-fledged intra-regional cooperation, he added.
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