An ECO high level delegation headed by His Excellency Ambassador Halil Ibrahim Akca participated in the UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference, hosted by the Government of Turkmenistan on 26-27 November 2016 in Ashgabat.
In his inaugural statement, H.E. Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Honourable President of Turkmenistan apprised the august house that in order to achieve socio-economic and sustainable development in various sectors of the economy, the program-targeted approach is being used. He also referred to the latest developments in the transport sector in Turkmenistan where a number of ambitious projects on construction and upgrading of existing infrastructure in road, railway, aviation and the sea transport are being realized and planned.
UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon in his welcoming remarks stated that “the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our plan for people, prosperity, planet and peace through partnerships”, referring to the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), the so-called Agenda 2030. Mr. Ban Ki-moon further said that “without transport we would not be here. We all understand its importance. Global trade depends on the world’s roads, rails, waterways and flight paths”.
ECO Secretary General in his statement in the Conference pointed out that ECO has a proven record in facilitating regional and international transport and removal of unsustainable transport practices where sustainable transport is of prime importance and high relevance to ECO. He further referred to the corridor-based arrangements of ECO to promote development of its member countries through smooth and seamless road and railway transit system in the Region.
On the sidelines of the Conference, ECO Secretary General had bilateral meetings with Foreign Minister and Minister of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan. H.E. Mr. Rashid Meredov, Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, while stressing the importance of cooperation of Turkmenistan under the auspices of ECO, informed about the readiness of Turkmen Government to host the 9th Ministerial Meeting on Transport in 2017. It was agreed that the dates for the meeting will be specified through diplomatic channels. The two sides also exchanged views on further joint actions with active participation of Turkmen counterparts.
In meeting with the Minister of Railways of Turkmenistan, the issue of commercialization of the railway connecting Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran (KTI) was discussed where Turkmen side was briefed on the latest status on the project to be funded by IDB, notably regarding support on the part of Kazakh and Iranian Railways. Turkmen side articulated its support towards this ECO’s initiative. Possibility of initiating a feasibility study to examine intermodal operation opportunities (Ro-RO) for ECO Member Caspian littoral States was also discussed with Turkmenistan’s showing inclination to this end.
ECO delegation also participated and contributed to the agenda of UNECE’s side event on “border crossing facilitation” via presenting its latest activities on the subject and met with the counterparts from the UN commissions, notably, ECE and ESCAP. Ms Eva Molnar from UNECE’s Transport Division encouraged ECO to move on with legal arrangements for possibility of acting “as a dialogue partner” under UNECE’s TIR related bodies to promote the interests of its Member States and expressed readiness to provide guidance in this regard. Mr. Li Yuwei, from UNESCAP Transport Division, assured support to help ECO in finding a qualified lead consultant for ITI and KTAI road corridor studies and expressed readiness to cooperate on other projects of mutual interest.
The Conference came up with the Ashgabat Statement on Commitments and Policy Recommendations, unanimously supported by all participating delegations.