Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at Ashgabat Summit of the Economic Cooperation Summit. Ashgabat May 13, 1997

Dear Mr. Chairman,

Your Excellencies,

I would like to express my gratitude to the leader­ship of Turkmenistan for their hospitality and good preparation of the extraordinary Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization in this beautiful city of Ashgabad.

I congratulate you dear Saparmurad Niyazov, on the occasion of your election as the Chairman of our meeting.

I hope that our Summit will become an important step on the way to deepen and widen the effective eco­nomic cooperation in the ECO region, for the sake of peace, stability and prosperity of our peoples.

Dear Gentlemen,

Our meeting is dedicated to the discussion of pro­jects in transport, communications and energy sectors.

The enormous potential of our own natural resources, benevolent geographic dislocation at the juncture of Europe and Asia, North and South create beneficial conditions for the successful cooperation in these spheres turning the region into the zone of reliable and effective transportation of energy resources, goods and cargoes.

The idea of the development of cooperation in tran­sport and communications areas is one of the bases of the Izmir Agreement which is the fundamental docu­ment of the BCO. The document emphasizes vital importance of this sector to provide stable economic growth and efficient economic cooperation between the ECO countries.

The time has come to bring the transport and com­munications infrastructures of the ECO region up to the world standards and to meet the potential economic prosperity in the region.

The formation of the modern transit Euro- Asian transport net through East-West and North-South corri­dors has prospects in our cooperation.

Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia made the first important step in this direction by sign­ing the Quadrilateral Serakh Agreement to coordinate their activities in railroad transport and to cooperate in the sphere of transit shipments. New Transcaucasian transport corridor has been successfully tested and already provides the transportation of cargoes between Europe and Asia. Several other countries like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria have expressed their desire to join to this Agreement.

International financial institutions, international organizations and in particular the European Union could extend decisive support to implement this project in full. The assistance of the European Union is particularly tangible in the development of regional programs like TRASEKA for countries of Central Asia and Transcaucasus with the consideration of their potentialities and interests.

The ports of the Caspian Sea and Black Sea as well as existing railroads and highways are the main links of emerging Euro-Asian corridor, Serakh Agreement and TRASEKA program create good premises for the effec­tive use of the ECO shipping and port industry in our region as the main cargo shipments are made by ferries from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan.

Being the strongest port at the Caspian basin equipped with high technology and with great capacity, at present the port in Baku is capable to carry out the function of a linkage to diversify transport in the direc­tion of East and West, North and South. It is capable to completely reprocess cargoes shipped to ports Anzaly and Nowshehr in Iran as well as Turkmenbashy, Mahachkala, Astrakhan and Aktau.

The development of the Baku port as well as other ports at the Caspian Sea should lead the way to become trade and commercial centers. In this regard there is necessity to develop large programs for reconstruction, modernization, building separate railroad and highway links as well as port industry with the purpose to upgrade existing infrastructure to the world standards.

In addition to what I have said, I believe it would be useful to establish permanent working Conference of Ministers for Transport of the countries in the Euro-Asian corridor with the participation of all interested parties. It would allow us to solve problems to make the Euro-Asian transport corridor fully operational and exercise the sole approach to development of programs for cooperation in this area.

Since the development of rich oil and gas resources at the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea and in lit­toral stales has started, the negotiations are under way for development of oil and gas pipelines from these countries via the territory of Azerbaijan to the ports at the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Several options are under consideration to use the existing railroads, submarine devices and pipelines in Azerbaijan which actually means to put one of the most important elements of Euro-Asian corridor into work. We believe that development of gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan through the Caspian Sea and then further to Turkey is very effective project. We think it is very important to develop this project within short period of time and to start its practical implementation.

We attach great importance to proposals on transportation of energy resources from Tengiz field in Kazakhstan to Turkey via the Caspian Sea and through the territory of Azerbaijan. We have discussed this issue with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and I believe it is necessary to further develop it and make practical decisions.

Dear Gentlemen,

Our present meeting is a testimony for beginning of the important stage to create single transport and com­munications network in the ECO region. I'd like to express my satisfaction and gratitude to the working group who has prepared Ashgabad Declaration. It lays a good foundation for well-organized and practical work to create modern, highly efficient transport and communication systems in our region and to integrate it to the global system.

I am sure that realization of the projects, reflected in the declaration, which was accepted today, will help useful collaboration of ECO countries mutually and providing stable peace and prosperity of our countries and peoples.

Thank you for your attention.

The document was taken from the edition of "Heydar Aliyev New Political Course"