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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[17.06.23] ECO As A Bridge Between Asia And Europe

Welcoming the delegations of ten countries - members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the President of Kyrgyz Republic Askar Akaev has expressed gratitude for the trust rendered to our country, which the nearest three years rules the presidency in ECO. The realization of the next meeting in Bishkek is the best confirmation of adherence of Kyrgyzstan in integration within the framework of this authoritative regional organization.
"Our regular meetings, - Askar Akaev has told, - convincingly confirm forward character, aspiration and will of our states in establishment of the general economic space in the territory from the Central Asia up to Persian Gulf, from coast of the Black and Caspian seas up to Indian ocean, which would be the bridge between the states of Europe and Asia". The president has especially focused on the problems put at the Istanbul summit of heads of the states and the governments and at 12-th meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of ECO on the collective help in the restoration and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Their decision should become mainstream of the activity of the ECO on the nearest five years. The effective mechanism of consolidation of efforts of the ECO states should become the plan prepared for the statement on restoration of Afghanistan for 2003-2008 years.
The last year the Economic Cooperation Organization has marked its 10-anniversary of the expansion and transformation from the economic union of three states (Turkey, Iran and Pakistan) into large regional association with connection to ECO Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. ECO has found not only new geographical outlines, but also has declared itself on international scene as the effective and dynamically developing, integration structure recognized by the international community which actively cooperates with the international organizations and has the status of the observer in the United Nations and WTO.
The participants of the meeting, summed up the last meeting in Istanbul, have emphasized, that there is an activation of process of realization of some programs and projects. In particular, the progress in cooperation is marked in the field of transport and communications, confirmation is opening the last year the regular cargo message on a route Istanbul - Teheran - Tashkent - Almaty, there is also a preparation for opening the passenger message. Besides the last year meeting of ministers of transport and communications the offer of our republic on inclusion in the 10-years program of ECO actions of the civil-engineering design of the railway of Uzbekistan - Kyrgyzstan - China was maintained. There are operating time in the field of expansion of regional trade. Its liberalization will be promoted by the realization of the trading agreement, which should remove barriers for a way of the goods. The signing of this agreement is held in the near future at the meeting of ministers of trade, which will pass in Pakistan. The ECO countries - members realize also a number of joint programs and projects in the field of agriculture, ecology, struggle against illegal trade of drugs. Special value for Kyrgyzstan has cooperation in ECO frameworks in the field of power. It is cooperation on development of the big and small waterpower engineering with use of water resources of our republic and Tajikistan.
Besides joint project of ECO and Islamic Development Bank on mutual connection and parallel functioning of power systems of ECO countries - members will allow Kyrgyzstan to realize the export potential in electric power industry. There were the "sharp" moments. What interrupts today more dynamical development of integration processes? According to Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyz Republic Askar Aitmatov, frequently good and important projects do not manage to be realized because of absence of sufficient financial assets of ECO countries - members.
The possible solution of this problem is to develop ties with other regional economic associations, the international financial institutions. A.Aitmatov has made also the offer on creation of uniform electron-communication system, which will connect ECO establishments in single information network. Among other factors constraining development of cooperation in ECO frameworks, were named high railroad rates, non-uniformity of development of bank sphere in the states - partners, insufficient unification of legislative base, inharmonic systems of tariffs and payments.
The problem of participation of the ECO countries during the post-war restoration of Afghanistan has taken a special place in the agenda of the meeting. Addressing to the colleagues as elected chairman of Council of Ministers of the Organization, Askar Aitmatov has expressed concern by that post disputed restoration in Afghanistan can become the second plan because of the Iraq question. The reduction of the external help can become one of factors of destabilization of conditions in the country. The acceptance of action plan on joint participation in economic restoration and the further development of Afghanistan provide also involving of this country in ECO activity through expansion of existing programs and projects. And creation of the special fund in ECO on restoration of Afghanistan should become the important tool in coordination of attraction of the financial and technical help of the international community and countries - donors.
The head of foreign policy department of the republic has made the application for support by the Kyrgyz side of the initiative for realization of a seminar on development of financial structure of this fund and 2-nd regional investment conference in Kabul
The Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers has invited all countries - members to take active participation in forthcoming celebrations in our republic. At the meeting ECO secretary general Sayed Modjtaba Arastu (Iran) has transferred the powers to the successor and the colleague from Kazakhstan Bekjasar Narbaev.
By L.Pavlovich,
Gazeta SNG, June 17, 2003

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