Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced the Islamic Republic’s commitment to the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO), but at the same time called for certain reforms to improve its efficiency.
Addressing a conference of ECO foreign ministers in Islamabad on Monday, Zarif stressed that the restructuring of the Organization needed to be based on an inclusive economic plan as well as adequate growth models.
Zarif added that ECO also needed to strengthen the mechanisms to respond to the requirements of its member states.
This, he added, could be part of the reforms that were launched over the past few years but were yet to be finished.
Here is the full text of his remarks:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Fellow Ministers; Distinguished Secretary General
Excellencies; Ladies and Gentlemen
At the outset, allow me to express my profound appreciation for your participation in the 33rd Council of Ministers of our Economic Cooperation Organization. I would like to begin by paying tribute to the people and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for hosting this meeting and for the excellent arrangements and gracious hospitality extended to us.
Since last COM Meeting, ECO’s existing frameworks and networks for regional cooperation continued to function; thanks to the ECO Member States, ECO Secretariat and our partner organizations. Distinguished Secretary General has extensively elaborated in his Report on the sectoral achievements and challenges that the Organization has experienced since the 32nd COM Meeting. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to him and his colleagues in the Secretariat for their dedication and efforts towards implementation of the ECO overall agenda.
At the end of my tenure as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, I would like to briefly share with you my views about the ECO as it stands now and as it ventures ahead to play a large role in the future of relations among our countries. In the 32nd COM Meeting in November 3124, and in the “Tehran Communiqué”, the Ministers clearly indicated that continued regional cooperation within ECO framework would require, first and foremost, enhanced institutional and operational capacities in the Organization, enabling it to respond in a timely and effective manner to the needs and aspirations of the Member States. Accordingly, the imperative of reform attained momentum, which was reinforced further by the evolving global trends in the context of the post-3122 global development agenda.
Notwithstanding the pending reforms and changes, the corresponding roadmap is now developed: the new “ECO Vision 3132″. Member States, assisted by the Secretariat, have charted the “Vision” which lays out the ECO goals and programs in the coming decade. The “Vision”, along with its associated plans for action, is expected to drive us towards further regional integration and cohesion. If it happens, ECO will celebrate an important milestone in its three-decade history of evolution. Ensuring that the “Vision” and other such frameworks will deliver their expected output, in a timely and effective way, predominantly requires a new regional economic architecture for cooperation and integration within the ECO. This should be based on a development paradigm and supported by fitting economic growth models for our Region. I firmly believe that ECO should invest more time and energy to carefully devise Vision’s implementation frameworks and mechanisms, and to ensure conducive policy environment for its realization.
As a member-driven organization, no success in the ECO can be envisaged unless all Member States are actively involved. The “less than full membership” arrangements or agreements have revealed their negative structural and institutional impacts on the Organization. We need to have all Member States on broad; while ECO in return needs to prove that it works for the whole membership. There has been a clear request by Member States that ECO should now focus on projects and programs which bring about maximum economic benefits to the Member States and the Region as a whole. ECO needs to prove its added value for each and every single Member State, enhancing the sense of ownership among them. Conversely, we, the Member States, should lend our full support to the Organization and its activities.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to continue its unwavering support for the ECO. We believe that the Economic Cooperation Organization is by far the best option for cooperation among the countries of the Region. We firmly believe ECO-sponsored regionalism not only improves prospects for individual and collective economic development, but enhances political and security relations among the Member States. We can ensure a more stable, peaceful and resilient community of countries through ECO’s cooperation and integration schemes, uplifting also our capacities to respond individually and collectively to the challenges and vulnerabilities.
Let me conclude by assuring the new ECO chairmanship, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, of the full support of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We will also continue our advocacy policy towards the Secretary General and the ECO Secretariat to accomplish their critical role in initiating, implementing and monitoring the activities within the Organization.