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Content ECO Bulletin - ECO A Brief History Tehran November, 2001-12-12 - Congratulatory Messages on the ECO Day: H.E. Ambassador Islamic State of Afghanistan Special Issue H.E. Minister of Foreign The Secretariat of Economic Cooperation Organization Affairs of Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan ECO - A Brief History The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) H.E. Minister of Foreign was established in 1985 as a trilateral organization of Iran, Affairs of Republic of Pakistan and Turkey to promote multi dimensional Kazakhstan H.E. Minister of Foreign regional cooperation with a view to create conditions for Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic sustained socio-economic growth in the Member States H.E. Minister of Foreign (MSs). Aims and objectives of ECO are identical to those Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan of its forerunner, the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), H.E. Ambassador of the which remained in existence from 1964 to 1979. The Treaty of Izmir Islamic Republic of Pakistan signed in 1977, which provided the legal framework for RCD, was H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Tajikistan adopted as the basic Charter of ECO with modifications to provide a H.E. Minister of Foreign proper legal basis to ECO's for transition from RCD. The Ministerial Affairs of the Republic of Meeting held in Islamabad in June 1990 ratified new charter “Treaty of Turkey H.E. Minister of Foreign Izmir ECO”, which was fully launched in early 1991.The break-up of Affairs of Turkmenistan former Soviet Union led with to independence of Republics of Central H.E. Ambassador of Asia and Caucasus, as a manifestation of their urge to revive their Turkmenistan H.E. the Secretary General of historic affinities with the peoples of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, six of ECO these Republics; namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, - Articles Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan along with Afghanistan sought ECO Accomplishments ECO Revisited the membership of ECO and were admitted into the organization. The Dialog among Civilizations, participation of these new Members in the activities of the Organization “Its relevance to past, present were commenced after their formal accession to the Treaty of Izmir at & future.” - Editor’s Note an Extraordinary Meeting of ECO Council of Ministers held in Islamabad on 28th May, 1992. ECO gained a new dimension in with its expansion from a three to ten-Members‟ Organization. Today ECO, is not only the focus of world attention in terms of its geo-political significance and vast combined economic potential but also symbolizes Islamic State of Republic of the collective aspirations of 350 million people for a future of progress Afghanistan Azerbaijan and prosperity. Islamic Republic of Republic of Iran Kazakhstan Kyrgyz Islamic Republic Republic of Pakistan Republic of Republic of Tajikistan Turkey Turkmenistan Republic of Uzbekistan Congratulatory messages Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of addressed to H.E. Dr. Abdolrahim Gavahi, Azerbaijan Secretary General of ECO, on the occasion of ECO Day I have the honour to extend to You our sincere congratulations on the occasion of ECO Day, November 28. H.E. Mr. Sayed Mohammad Khairkhah, Ambassador Islamic State of Afghanistan Given to its natural resources, geographical location, cultural bonds and traditions, the The Islamic State of Afghanistan expresses ECO region has all the essential elements to its congratulation to all Member States on the become the region of economic prosperity and occasion of ECO Day on 28th of November, at stability. the time when this country is placed on the second stage of its historical victory for Therefore, consolidation of all efforts to this repelling of outside interference and end is of primary importance. occupation as well as expulsion of mercenary and terrorist agents. Our nation has passed We feel confident that co-operation within this examination successfully once more again the ECO will not only promote the by its rare resistance. It is appropriate to development of the economies of member felicitate this victory to the countries in our states as well as their integration into the region, the world and specially the Economic global economy but also ensures the peace Cooperation Organization (ECO). and stability in the ECO region and on the world as a whole. The efforts of the Islamic State of Afghanistan have now produced a result by Please accept, Excellency, the assurances favour and grace of God and cooperation of of my highest consideration. our noble nation, friendly countries and global community for fighting against corrupt agents H.E. Dr. Vilayat Guliyev of Taleban, international terrorists and Minister of Foreign Affairs smugglers of narcotic drugs who had made a Republic of Azerbaijan nest in the ECO region since long time ago and caused turbulence and insecurity in this H.E. Mr. Abbassali Hassanov, Ambassador region. Now, we continue these efforts for of the Republic of Azerbaijan construction of civil entities which will surely benefit the ECO Member States. Today we celebrate the ECO Day. On behalf of the delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan The proposal of the Islamic State of let me congratulate all Member States of our Afghanistan for strengthening its stability with Organization. development of democratic foundations and contribution of all groups residing in this You and I are privileged to live and work in country has been brought to the attention of a period of breathtaking change and the global community and our effort is excitement. Great new projects are being continuing in this direction accordingly. planned and implemented all around us. Now by taking advantage of this The changes set in motion over the last opportunity, we honour the ECO Day and we years have begun to make a real impact on the would like to once again sincerely extend our world market and have opened up a whole profound congratulation. We request all ECO range of exciting new opportunities for Member States to help us for achieving our everyone involved in global economy. proposed constructive objectives and to contribute in reconstruction of the economic ECO through the joint efforts and infrastructure of Afghanistan which has been commitments of the member states constitutes destroyed and ruined during two decades of today a well-functioning model of constructive war. economic co-operation among the countries of Best regards. a wide region with huge economic, social and cultural potential waiting to be mobilized for the benefit of our nations. 2 In the new millennium, globalization has Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz moved the world closer to conduct Republic interdependent relationships and creating a unified world market. In this juncture, It is my pleasure to extend to Your Azerbaijan remains committed to the goals Excellency my cordial felicitations and best enshrined in the founding agreements of ECO wishes on the auspicious occasion of ECO to forge broader and multi-dimensional co- Day, marking the 9th anniversary of historic operation in the regional context with a view to transformation of a trilateral entity into a contributing to lasting peace, stability and regional organization of ten Member States. prosperity in our region and beyond. For his part, Azerbaijan is eager to contribute to the ECO represents an important geo-political promotion of ECO as a respected and valued region of rich resources and ancient culture regional organization, and it is ready and and traditions. ECO has a great capacity to willing to strengthen its co-operation with the contribute towards progress and well-being of member countries to the extent possible. more than 340 million people through stimulation of regional co-operation in the field In this regard I would like to take this of trade, transport and communications, opportunity to salute all Member Countries for energy, tourism and other areas of mutual the contribution they have made to the interest. We also believe that ECO will serve development of economies of the Member not only for the development of the Member States. States‟ national economies and their integration to the world economy but also to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of strengthening peace and stability in our region. Kazakhstan On the threshold of its decennary, ECO has Please accept my sincere congratulations made considerable achievements, however, on the occasion of the Economic Co-operation there is still greater need to give effect to all Organization Day. ECO Summits and Council of Ministers meetings‟ decisions, to expedite ratification of Our Organization aimed at resolving ECO crucial agreements and to timely regional economic issues strives to bring implement mutually beneficial regional elements of stability and durability into the projects. I am pleased to note that since the development of all the Organization‟s Member last 6th Summit in Tehran positive steps have States and facilities creation of the atmosphere been taken towards activation of ECO of understanding and confidence in the region, activities and further extension of ECO co- its harmonious integration into the world operation with other regional and international economy. organizations. The Republic of Kazakhstan confirms its Your mission to Bishkek on 15-17 January adherence to the principles of integration and 2001 has further strengthened the relationship makes every effort to obtain the Organization‟s between ECO and Kyrgyzstan and I would like purposes – facilitation of prosperity and to assure You that the Kyrgyz Republic, being progress of our peoples through development committed to the regional integration and multi- of regional co-operation. dimensional co-operation on the basis of equal partnership, will further make its utmost effort Availing of this opportunity, allow me to wish towards the realization of the objectives of You good health and every success in Your Organization for the prosperity and progress of noble activity. our peoples. Please accept, Your Excellency, the Please accept, Excellency, the assurances assurances of my highest consideration. of my highest consideration. H.E. Mr. Erlan Idrissov H.E. Mr. Muratbek Imanaliev Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kyrgyz Republic 3 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Regional Economic Co-operation has Republic of Pakistan become an inescapable economic necessity specially for middle level countries in the face On the auspicious occasion of ECO Day, of the intense competition unleashed by the the government and the people of Pakistan process of globalization and rules of the World join the governments and peoples of other Trade Organization. Such regional economic ECO Member Countries in renewing their co-operation enables the member States commitment to the goals and objectives of the through free trade and mutual collaboration in ECO. This day marks the historic various other fields to accelerate their transformation of ECO from a trilateral entity economic growth and compete successfully at into a regional organization of 10 member the international level through better allocation states bound together by common history, of resources, economies of large scale culture and faith. production and a more effective representation in international economic fora. The Economic ECO represents a vast region of great geo- Co-operation Organization, therefore, offers a political importance, with large material and valuable opportunity to its member States to human resources. It has tremendous potential develop mutually beneficial economic co- to contribute to the socio-economic well being operation based on cultural and historical of its peoples. The possibilities before us of affinities. achieving the collective well being of our peoples are immense. Hopefully, with clearly Pakistan is deeply committed to the ideals identified goals and objectives we shall now and objectives of the Economic Co-operation move at an accelerated pace to turn our plans Organization and is fully determined to work into reality. We note with satisfaction that for their realization in co-operation with other considerable interest has been aroused about member States. In so doing, the Member our organization in the international States must pay due attention to co-operation community. This is reflected in the in the priority areas of trade, transport and establishment of relationships with the various communication, and energy. In particular, we international institutions and their offer to should aim at achieving the objective of an support ECO in its endeavours. ECO Free Trade Area as soon as possible. I have no doubt that the commemoration of Pakistan reiterates its unwavering the ECO Day would serve to strengthen the commitment to work together with its partners resolve of the governments and peoples of the towards achieving the cherished goal of a ECO Region to speed up the process of bright future for ECO Member States, one that regional economic co-operation so that ECO promises peace, progress and prosperity for its may emerge as a dynamic organization peoples. dedicated to the important task of promoting the economic growth and prosperity of its H.E. Mr. Abdul Sattar Member States. Minister of Foreign Affairs Islamic Republic of Pakistan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of H.E. Mr. Javid Husain, Ambassador of the Tajikistan Islamic Republic of Pakistan As a Chairman of the Council of Ministers of It gives me great pleasure to convey my the Economic Co-operation Organization heartiest felicitations to the governments and (ECO) and on behalf of the Government of the peoples of the ECO Region on this historic day Republic of Tajikistan and on my own, let me which commemorates the transformation of the cordially congratulate You on the occasion of Economic Co-operation Organization from a the ECO Day. trilateral body into a regional economic organization of 10 member States linked There is no doubt that our joint efforts has together by indissoluble bonds of common made the ECO become the instructive model history, culture and faith as well as shared of the economic co-operation among the ECO aspirations for progress and prosperity on the Member States. basis of a wide ranging program of regional economic co-operation. 4 Let me assure You that Tajikistan is still relations among countries of the region as the adhere to the objectives and principles authoritative international organization. enshrined in basic documents of the Economic Co-operation Organization, targeted at Availing myself of this opportunity wish broader multilateral collaboration among our You good health, prosperity and great countries aimed at providing stable economic successes in Your responsible activities. development and prosperity of the region. Please accept, Excellency, the On this great occasion I would like to wish assurances of my highest consideration. Your Excellency strong health and happiness as well as every success in Your difficult job, H.E. Mr. Rashid Meredov entrusted on you. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan H.E. Mr. Talbak Nazarov Minister of Foreign Affairs Republic of Tajikistan H.E. Mr. Murad Nazarov, Ambassador of Turkmenistan H.E. Mr. Ismail Cem, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey Allow me to congratulate you and all Member States of the Economic Co-operation I have the pleasure to convey to Your Organization, as well as ECO Secretariat staff Excellency my sincere congratulations on this on this significant holiday – ECO Day. happy occasion of the Economic Co-operation Both for Turkmenistan and other Member Organization (ECO) Day. States with transitional economies, the ECO, through the joint efforts and integration in the world economic system is commitments of its member states constitutes one of the paramount foreign policy priorities. a well functioning model of constructive Along with search for development of the economic co-operation among the friendly effective forms of equal and mutually beneficial countries of a wide region with huge economic, economic relations with all countries on a social and cultural potential. This potential bilateral base, Turkmenistan is paying due must be mobilized for the benefit of our attention to the Economic Co-operation nations. Organization in terms of multilateral co- operation. Today, when the history gave to our The Republic of Turkey remains committed peoples an opportunity to renovate the links to the goals enshrined in the founding which has been lost and to form conception of Agreements of ECO with a view to contributing a regional partnership in the XXI century, ECO to lasting peace, stability and prosperity in our should try to stabilize the situation in the region region. In order to achieve these noble goals, using only economic facilities and active Turkey is ready and willing to further economic interaction. ECO has necessary strengthen its co-operation with the member potential not only to take adequate part in states to the extent possible. global economic process, but also to contribute to it. Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration. Logic of co-operation of ECO Member States in reviving a region and flourish its peoples fully coincides with basic principles of Message of Minister of Foreign Affairs of long term strategy of Turkmenistan. We in Turkmenistan Turkmenistan believe that regional co- operation is a worthy reply for the new I would like to convey to You and all staff of challenges of time proceeding from global the Secretariat my sincere congratulations on economic tendencies. Such a co-operation the occasion of ECO Day. creates favorable conditions for further strengthening of ECO‟s role, as a regional I am confident that Economic Co-operation economic organization, comprehensive Organization will further take an important part realization of economic potential of the in developing economic, trade and cultural Member States, and leading the organization to a new horizon of the regional co-operation. 5 The regional co-operation is acquiring a trade, energy, agriculture, industry health and special importance from the point of stable drug control. social development, progress and well-being of people. Historically and traditionally our Let me name a few activities among others, countries were combined rather with constant realized and achieved during the year. Our economic communication than commonality of endeavours to launch both passenger and cultures and religious, and Silk Road was a container train on the Almaty-Tashkent- main artery of this. That is why, the Ashgabat-Tehran-Istanbul route are coming to establishment of the Economic Co-operation fruition: the Tehran-Istanbul part of it was Organization (ECO) became a logical launched in last March. continuation of the historical path and economic progress of our region. As part of ECO/ITC project on “Expanding Intra-ECO Trade”, around 90 companies The countries of the region are taking among member states gathered in Istanbul on decisive steps towards supporting each other October 17-18, 2001 in order to make and combining efforts towards economic transactions on textiles and clothing. prosperity. Each of the Member States joined this regional organization consciously, have Our follow-up for the early establishment of already reached a certain economic and ECO Trade and Development Bank is coming political success in state construction. For the to blossom, with the ratification of the last 9 years ECO Member States have been Agreement by Iranian authorities. able to reveal areas of mutual interest, to define forms and methods of further interaction ECO has been able to sign a grant and reflect them in the relevant ECO agreement with Islamic Development Bank to documents, which created a strong ground to the tune of US$ 400.000, for carrying out the successfully enter the organization to the 21 “Feasibility Study on Interconnection of Power century as a vital international organization. Systems of ECO Member States”, a project which is at the verge of implementation. At the end, let me once again congratulate You esteemed Secretary General, all ECO Moreover, we continued to further our Member States on the occasion of ECO Day, relations with United Nations Drug Control and wish health, happiness, well-being, new Programme, through launching the 2nd phase success in creation of conditions for economic of Drug Control Coordination Project in ECO development of the Member States, successful region. integration of the Member States‟ into world economic system, stirring up of the regional On the whole, the Organization has made co-operation in all spheres of economy, important gains by advancing ECO science and culture. programmes agreed upon by its member states, as well as increasing cooperation with the relevant international organs. It is in this spirit, that I have felt most honoured to serve it Congratulatory Message on eve of the as its Chief Executive during the past year. ECO Day from H.E. the Secretary General of ECO I call upon all relevant bodies, institutions, and people of our region to rally behind the On the happy occasion of the Economic cherished goals of ECO and rise above the Cooperation Organization (ECO) Day, I would challenges of our time. like to celebrate the 16th Anniversary of ECO. Lastly, I wish continued success in working towards greater achievements for the In the year 2001, ECO continued to Organization. advance the interests of its member countries in various areas of cooperation among Ambassador Dr. Abdolrahim Gavahi themselves as well as with international Secretary General, ECO organizations. The Organization remained November 28, 2001. committed to promote economic development of the region, as shown by its activities in the fields of transportation and telecommunication, 6 Executive Heads 1988-2003 Sectoral Developments The Secretariat of the ECO is headed by the 1. TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATION Secretary General, who being the Executive head, provides leader-ship to the Organization. 1.1 TRANSPORT The post of ECO Secretary General is for a Development of a reliable and efficient non-renewable term of three years and the transport as well as telecommunication position is rotated among the Member States networks in ECO region enjoys high priority. based on the agreed rotation formula. First ECO Transport Ministers meeting held in Almaty-Kazakhstan on 25-27 October, 1993 H.E. Dr. Abdolrahim Gavahi from the adopted an outline Plan for the Development of Islamic Republic of Iran is the current Transport Sector in the ECO region including Secretary General, who has joined the position the formation and development of Road and on 13th August, 2000. His Predecessor H.E. Railway networks, Air Services and Shipping & Mr. Önder Özar, from the Republic of Turkey, Port Facilities. Ashgabat declaration of 1997 remained the Secretary General from August, also emphasized the needs of development of 1996 to 2000, followed by Mr. Shamshad Transport & Communications infrastructure Ahmad, from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan linking MSs with each other and the outside from August 1992-1996 and H.E. Mr. Alireza World. ECO Ministerial Meeting on Transport & Salari, from the Islamic Republic of Iran from Communications (Ashgabat 1998) approved a August 1988-1992. plan of action for ECO decade of Transport & Communication (1998-2007), which is under The position requires deep sense of implementation. realism, enlightened thinking and strategic decision making to over come the challenges Measures have been taken for removal of of the position. The confidences reposed by physical, procedural and administrative the ECO Members in their leadership, have impediments to ensure free flowing roads, rails been fulfilled and they have come-up to their and air transport. Outlines of the Railway and aspirations. Road Network have been finalized and the Maps indicating new routes were published. ECO ACCOMPLISHMENTS ECO Transit Transport Framework agreement (TTFA) laid down technical characteristics of ECO – A PATH TO PROSPERITY roads, railway lines, and vehicles to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the international A Brief Overview routes. TTFA also contains the provisions on Since its inception, ECO has come a long way in customs control and mutual administrative outlining and developing viable strategies to assistance as well as monitoring, implementing capitalize on the vast combined potential of its and coordination on matters related to Member States (MSs). Despite the structural transportation of passengers, luggage and and economic problems, ECO is gradually cargo. moving towards its objectives. There is a clear awareness among the leaders of ECO Members ECO Permanent Commission on Transport & that the benefits of cooperation in the region can Communication has been established to only be attained by exploiting available undertake measures for the expeditious opportunities and making efficient use of their implementation & monitoring of the physical resources for mutual benefits. infrastructure development in ECO region. In the Past 16 years, ECO has pursued its Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is providing goals in a steadfast and realistic manner. Six technical assistance grant to undertake a study Summits, 13 Foreign Ministers level meetings; for introduction of Multi-Modal transport three Ministerial meetings on Transport and one operations in ECO region. each on Trade, Health and Energy have been held. The decisions taken in these meetings are ECO Railway Tariff Policy (ECORTP), has being implemented in letter and spirit. been formulated and submitted for the The following is in brief description of the consideration of ECO MSs. Under this policy, progress made in the ECO priority areas: flexible tariff and international freight charges 7 have been proposed for economical and the field of telecommunications and postal efficient organization of railway transportation. services. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has Hopefully, with the implementation of these been signed recently in Baku on the opening projects, ECO region would be inter-connected of international passenger traffic on Almaty – by roads, railways, airlines and modern Tashkent-Tehran-Istanbul route of the Trans- telecommunication systems by the year 2007. Asian Railway main line. Plans are already underway to provide the landlocked MSs of the region an easy access to A demonstration container train along the sea through Iran to the Persian Gulf, through Trans-Asian Railway main-line from South-East Pakistan to the Indian Ocean and through Asian sea ports to West-European countries via Turkey to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Sea. Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey will be launched in near future. Initially frequency of the train will 2. TRADE & INVESTMENT be once every two weeks. Trade being an effective instrument for Other initiative includes, study on Rolling promoting regional integration continued to Stocks with possibilities of regional cooperation remain high on ECO's agenda. It has assumed in maintenance and rebuilding the locomotives, even greater importance in the wake of the passenger carriages, freight wagons and other newly emerging challenges of globalization. railway equipment. The establishment of Data Being cognizant of these developments, ECO bank on ECO Road network specifying the has devised a collective response to these existing & planned routes, Road infrastructure, challenges envisaging a phased strategy along with a detail directory of ECO road consisting of a gamut of trade promotion and network for the help of Road drivers is under trade facilitation activities. A brief account of preparation. Measures for border crossing these activities is given below: facilitation and promotion of international transport are also under implementation. With the stated objective of providing an enabling environment for a steady expansion of An ECO Framework Agreement on intra-regional trade on an overall reciprocal and cooperation in the field of Air Transport s also in mutually advantageous basis, a preferential the development stage which will enhance the tariffs regime was put in place through a effectiveness of Air Services in the ECO region. Protocol signed between the founding members of ECO in 1991.This initiative, however, did not 1.2 TELECOMMUNICATION meet with a lot of success owing to it‟s limited The Telecommunication heads of ECO scope and rapidly changing regional as well as countries meets regularly and major international trading milieu. development has been taken place in this field. The joining of Pakistan & Afghanistan with the In 1997 a High Level Experts Group (HLEG) Trans-Asian European Fiber Optic System was established to review Tariff and Non-Tariff (TAEFOS) is under study, which will improve Barriers (NTBs) and to re-appraise ECO PTA telecommunication services and provide high and to find a new mechanism for enhancement bandwidth for data transfer. of intra-regional trade in the post Uruguay Round era. It drafted the ECO Framework Cooperation among ECO research centers Agreement on Trade Cooperation (ECOFAT) on joint research and common activities in the which laid down the principles of intra-regional field of telecommunication is being planned. trade cooperation and envisaged a gradual Database will be developed on reduction of tariff barriers and elimination of telecommunication equipment manufactured in NTBs through an ECO Trade Agreement ECO countries. (ECOTA). The ECOFAT was later on signed by eight member states during the 1st Ministerial Cooperation in Postal Services with the Meeting on Commerce / Foreign Trade held in South & West Asian Postal Union (SWAPU) and March 2000. among ECO MSs is being pursued. It is planned to publish a booklet on the existing education A joint ECO/International Trade Center (ITC) and training facilities available in ECO region in Project on “Expanding Intra-Regional Trade” is 8 currently under implementation. The primary 3. ENERGY, MINERALS & ENVIRONMENT aim of this project is to identify the untapped trade potential of the region and to put in place 3.1 ENERGY mechanisms to exploit that potential. The project ECO region is blessed with the enormous is divided into 4 main phases, namely; Trade Energy resources, Ashgabat declaration of 14 Flow Analysis and Product Selection Workshop May 1997, has emphasized for the followed by a series of Demand/Supply Surveys development of energy resources. Steps are and Buyers/Sellers Meetings on selected being taken to forge regional cooperation by product groups. At the end of each cycle a planning a network of gas and oil pipelines and Business Forum would be held in order to take interconnection of power grids within the region. stock of the achievements made. The first ECO Ministerial Meeting Energy/Petroleum, preceded by the Senior ECO Transit Trade Agreement (TTA) which Energy/Petroleum Officials, was held in was signed in 1995 & entered into force in Islamabad on 8 November 2000. The meeting 1998 is another land mark in the brief history adopted the Joint Statement on Cooperation in of the Organization. The said agreement aims Energy/Petroleum in ECO region and at facilitating transit movement of goods across approved a Plan of Action for national frontiers of the member states. A Energy/Petroleum Co-operation for year 2001- Transit Trade Committee has also been 2005. The meeting identified transportation established to monitor the progress on and trade of energy, environmental issues, implementation of the Agreement Regular energy efficiency and investment for energy, meetings of the TTC are held every year to as the main fields for co-operation. review the Agreement and make recommendations for its early implementation. A feasibility study for Interconnection and Parallel Functioning of the Power Systems of Endeavors are also being made in the area the ECO Countries will be carried out with the of Customs Cooperation to foster cooperation Technical Assistance Grant of IDB. among ECO Customs Administrations particularly on issues relating to prevention of Large oil and gas reserves in the ECO smuggling & customs frauds; transit issues, region have fascinated major international oil simplification of customs & transit procedures, and gas companies. ECO MSs should make etc. The Council of Heads of Customs policies to reap the benefit of this enormous Administration (CHCA) was established in natural resource by benefiting from foreign 1999 to act as a policy making body which has investment and transfer of technology. ECO is greatly contributed towards implementation of intended to cooperate with the Energy Charter TTA. An MOU on Cooperation Against Secretariat (ECS) to benefit from their Smuggling and Customs Frauds was also experience in the field of Energy. signed in 1998. Several training Workshops for customs officials of ECO MSs are also being 3.2 MINERALS regularly held in Iran and Turkey. ECO region is rich in mineral resources and cooperation in exploitation of these resources A dedicated website/portal for dissemination is needed. The first “ECO Mineral Experts of trade and investment related information and Meeting” to “enhancement of regional co- to identify business opportunities in the region is operation in mineral sector” and drafting a under development. “Plan of Action” for co-operation among the ECO countries, was held on 29-31 October A regional plan of action aimed at improving 2001 in the Islamic Republic of Iran with the the investment climate in the ECO region is promising outcomes. being prepared based on the analysis and review of investment policies of the MSs. An 3.3 ENVIRONMENT HLEG will review/examine the issues involved The Almaty and Tehran Declarations have and recommend ways and means for promoting emphasized the importance of regional co- investment and industrial development in the operation in the field of Environment. Keeping region. Existing bilateral and multilateral in view the growing concerns on environmental agreements among ECO MSs will also be issues and their increasing impact, it is felt that considered in formulation of a regional the concerned national agencies of the ECO agreement. MSs are keen to take collective measures for 9 the protection of their environment. A list of management (IPM), and control of trans- important environmental issues will be prepared boundary animal diseases, etc. and ways and means will be explored for resolving these issues in collaboration with The ECO secretariat is currently relevant international bodies. endeavoring to streamline the activities in the field of agriculture in order to have more A Plan of Action on Environment for ECO effective regional cooperation. In parallel to region was proposed by a Workshop on Urban this aim the Secretariat with the technical Air Pollution. The first experts‟ meeting on the assistance of FAO and financial support of IDB ECO Energy Resources Development and has initiated a joint identification mission in their Environmental Impact Assessment was year 2000 to selected ECO MSs to assess the held in Islamabad. The meeting discussed the possibility of preparing a regional project issue in detail and proposed a guideline on document for donors‟ considerations. environmental impact assessment (EIA) for Moreover, a project on Regional Cooperation ECO region. Environment Protection for Food Security, jointly with UNDP, is being Organization (EPO) of the Islamic Republic of implemented under the Capacity building Iran has initiated preliminary studies on Project of the ECO Secretariat. The main "Energy and Environment" and also expressed objective of this project is to identify the major its readiness for exchange of experiences with issues for agricultural cooperation among ECO experts of other ECO MSs on air Member States and ways and means for pollution/prevention/control matters. The ECO collaboration to ensure food security across Secretariat is also pursuing to establish closer the ECO region, including national capacity co-operation among ECO members and with building among the ECO countries. other regional and international institutions on environmental issues. A training workshop 4.2 INDUSTRY was also held in Tehran on October 7-9, 2001 There is a need for serious and timely on “Energy Resources Development and their efforts on the part of ECO MSs to restructure Environmental Impact Assessment”. their industrial policies and make attractive policies so that they can also benefit from the foreign investment. 4. AGRICULTURE, INDUSTRY & HEALTH Keeping in view the role of the public sector 4.1 AGRICULTURE in economies of MSs, the Council of Ministers ECO countries are blessed with abundance mandated ECO to ensure substantial of agricultural resources and varieties of soil, involvement of the private sector in the further climate and environmental conditions which development of industry. Hence, ECO offer a great potential for development of cooperation in the field of industry has focused Agriculture sector. Agriculture is very vital for on the private sector development, particularly sustainable economic development of the on privatization and development of small and ECO MSs. The Quetta Plan of Action and the medium sized enterprises. Istanbul Declaration give due priority to agriculture and emphasize preparation of In this context, a Workshop on the comprehensive studies for new applications, Development of Small and Medium improvement of technologies and adopting Enterprises was held in Ankara, Turkey, in new methods for maximization of agricultural November 1998, in which the ECO MSs output in ECO region. agreed on the need for enhancing institutional support to the development of SME's. On the Pursuant to the recommendations of the other hand, the Secretariat is currently ECO Council of Ministers (COM), the ECO endeavoring to organize a workshop on Secretariat is pursuing several activities in Privatization in year 2002 in order to promote area of development of agricultural data bank, the role of privatization in the industrial development of linkages among the research development policies and transition process, and training institutions, combatting to raise awareness on the prospects for further desertification and cooperation in the forestry privatization and to assess the impact of sector, development of dwarf fruit trees, and privatization on public finance and national sugar beet seeds development, prevention of economies. IDB has already agreed to provide post harvest crop losses, integrated pest financial assistance for this event. 10 4.3 HEALTH continuous drug control dialogue with MSs. All The need for cooperation among the ten ECO MSs have designated Focal Points member states in the field of health was for DCCU. The Phase II of the Project has emphasized by the Health Ministerial Meeting been jointly prepared by UNDCP and ECO held in Tehran in January, 1994. This meeting Secretariat and is expected to start in the year outlined a broad framework for further 2002. deliberations by the relevant experts to prepare viable proposals/plans/projects for 6. International Relations sharing experiences and resources by the ECO MSs to benefit from each other's Internationally, ECO has been successful in experience. forging close ties with regional as well as international organizations to ensure that the Since then, ECO cooperation on health due share in the emerging competitive world of sector has based on the joint activities with the 21st century. Substantial flow of Technical UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO. and Financial support from International agencies is being received for various ECO/UNFPA and ECO/UNICEF/WHO have programs and projects. Indeed purposeful jointly held eight events to formulate health linkages between ECO and other Regional and related policies for ECO region since 1994. International Organizations are growing in a Lastly, in 2000, a Conference on "Expanding tangible manner. Contraceptive Choice and Improving Quality of Reproductive Health Program" was held jointly Several programs of cooperation have also by ECO/UNFPA in Istanbul, Turkey. been evolved in the fields of trade & investment, transport & communications, human resource Recently, a new proposal to organize a development energy, agriculture and industry. Seminar on HIV/AIDS and Adolescent Health To name a few, “Introduction of Multimodal in one of ECO Member States has been Transport Operations in the ECO region” by evolved with UNFPA. The Secretariat is ECO/IDB/UNCTAD/ESCAP; “Interconnection currently working to finalize necessary and parallel functioning of Power Systems of arrangements for the said event. ECO Member States” by ECO/IDB; “Exploring Intra-ECO Trade” by International Trade 5. Drug Control Center(ITC); and the “Capacity Building of the In February 1992, the COM constituted a ECO Secretariat” by the UNDP, among others. Technical Committee to prepare a plan of action on Drug Control. Drug control was ECO enjoys observer status with the UN and considered a major policy issue and a the OIC; institutionalized cooperative Resolution was adopted by the ECO COM in relationships were established with ESCAP, its special meeting held in Istanbul in July UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UNDCP, UNIDO, 1993. UNESCO and IDB. The MOUs have also been The 6th COM Meeting held in May 1996 in signed with FAO, ICARDA, UNCTAD, UIC, Ashgabat considered recommendations of the OSZhD (Organization for Cooperation of Technical Expert Groups and adopted an ECO Railways), UNEP (United Nations Environment Plan of Action on Drug Control, which calls for Program), SADC (Southern African the establishment of a Drug Control Development Community) and ECT (Energy Coordination Unit (DCCU) in the Secretariat Charter Treaty) and with ITC (International with the financial assistance of UNDCP. Trade Centre) of UNCTAD/WTO. Accordingly, the Project “Assistance in Establishing a Drug Control Coordination 7. Inter-Regional Cooperation Unit(DCCU) at the Secretariat of ECO” was In view of the growing trend towards greater concluded with UNDCP in March 1998. inter-regional cooperation, ECO has also Subsequently, the DCCU was established to explored possibilities of mutually beneficial serve as a channel of communication and to cooperation with other major regional groupings. monitoring the implementation of the ECO In this connection, five regional organizations of Plan of Action on Drug Control. The Project in Asia and the Pacific, viz., ECO, ASEAN, its first phase has promoted coordination of SAARC and South Pacific Forum under the drug control activities within the ECO region aegis of ESCAP, have institutionalized and enabled the ECO Secretariat to launch a consultations among the Executive Heads of 11 these Organizations to pursue inter-regional 1995 during the Third ECO Summit Meeting in cooperation in areas of common interest. Islamabad between Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. The main objective for establishing this SUBSIDIARY INSTITUTIONS company is to supplement the existing insurance services in the region, promote 8. Regional Institutions growth of the national and underwriting and retention capacities, minimize the outflow of 8.1 ECO Shipping Company foreign exchange from the region, and support The agreement on the establishment of the the economic development in the region. ECO shipping company was signed on 15 Headquarters of the Company should be March 1995. The head office of the ECO based in Karachi-Pakistan. The Company can shipping company is located in Tehran and it also establish its liaison offices in other has leased two multi-purpose ships and is countries in accordance with the decision of successfully running its overseas the Board of Directors. Any insurance or transportation. reinsurance company or financial institution of any other ECO country may become a 8.2 ECO Chamber of Commerce & Industry shareholder of the company subject to the commencement of the operations and in The ECO Chamber of Commerce and compliance with the related articles. ECO Industry was established to facilitate trade and Trade & Development Bank & ECO economic cooperation, promote closer Reinsurance Company will simultaneously relations between the free enterprises and for come into force in near future. realization of joint investments in the ECO MSs. Organizing joint fairs, exhibitions, 8.5 ECO Consultancy & Engineering meetings, conferences, seminars; and other Company promotional activities with a view to further A central resource pool of expertise has been develop economic relations between ECO created in the shape of ECO Consultancy and MSs were the main responsibilities of the Engineering Company, or ECO-CEC, to assist institution. The ECO Chamber of Commerce in the development of projects sponsored by and Industry, meets annually and provides a ECO MSs. The founding Members of ECO, valuable platform for the interaction and Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Republic of dialogue amongst the business communities of Pakistan and Republic of Turkey hold equal the ECO region. share in ECO-CEC, Turkey being represented by two companies and Iran and Pakistan, by one each. 8.3 ECO Trade & Development Bank The Iranian and Turkish Companies The Articles of Agreement were signed specialize mainly in oil and gas pipelines, between Iran, Pakistan and Turkey during the refineries, petrochemical and industrial Third ECO Summit Meeting in Islamabad on engineering, while the Pakistani partner 15 March 1995 and were revised on 4 March specializes in the fields of development 1997. The main objective for establishing the engineering, including communications, power, Bank is to initiate, promote and provide urban development public health, financial facilities to expand intra-regional trade telecommunications, water resources and accelerate economic development of ECO development and agriculture. MSs. The headquarters of the Bank shall be located in Istanbul with two branches to be Cooperation is under way for the opened in Iran and Pakistan. After the preparation of feasibility & pre-feasibility commencement of the Bank‟s operations, studies of the ECO Project and ECO-CEC is branch offices can be opened in other MSs on planning to hold a conference on the "Role of mutually agreed basis. All three founding ECO in Development of MSs" to be held in members have ratified the agreement and an Lahore-Pakistan by the end of year 2001. interim Committee will be convened soon to prepare ground for establishment of the Bank. 8.6 ECO College of Insurance The ECO College of Insurance (CI) is affiliated 8.4 ECO Re-Insurance Company to Allameh Tabatabai University Tehran. It was The MOU for the establishment of the ECO re- established to enhance demand for insurance Insurance Company was signed on 15 March, experts and to train manpower in the economic 12 and managerial aspects of the profession. The educational institute shall have a President, ECO CI started its program from the academic Academic Council and an Executive year 1990-1991. It primarily accommodates Committee. The Institute shall have its students from the ECO MSs and extends its headquarters in Ankara and have a focal point services to other countries as well. in each MS to facilitate implementation of the approved programs. The Charter of the ECO- Its educational program spreads over a EI is awaited to be ratified by the contracting period of four years leading to the Bachelor of parties. Science degree in Insurance Management. All courses are taught and examined in English. 10. Conclusion 9. SPECIALZED AGENCIES Progress of ECO has been remarkable, in 9.1 ECO Cultural Institute the sense that it has continued to consolidate The Charter of ECO Cultural Institute was itself as a regional organization. In all fairness signed during the Third ECO Summit Meeting in the results have been mixed. Nevertheless, Islamabad in March 1995. ECO has not wasted any opportunity to make as much progress as possible towards the Recognizing the importance of ECO cultural fulfillment of our goals. While our track record heritage and its impact on enrichment and in some priority areas such as transport and development of cooperation in all aspects in communications, trade and investment, the region, the MSs of ECO decided to revive research and publication have been the former RCD Cultural Institute under the impressive, however, progress, in other name of ECO Cultural Institute with its equally vital sectors e.g. energy, environment, headquarters in Tehran. President heads the agriculture, health and industry is far from Institute and the management of the Institute's satisfactory. There are no cogent reasons why Affairs rests with the Executive Director. we should not make progress in these areas as well. What we today need is a little more The second meeting of the ECI‟s Board of support from the MSs and re-assessment of Trustees (BOT) held in Tehran on 25-26 the work plans and projects to streamline our January 2000 approved, in principle, the priorities afresh. contents of the 3-year Plan of Action on ECO cultural activities which is under The scale and extent of the activities of the implementation. Organization are being subjected to a realistic appraisal. A guiding factor is the precise 9.2 ECO Science Foundation identification of the economic potential and an All ECO MSs have signed the Charter of the honest accommodation of interests of all MSs ECO Science Foundation during the third ECO for the common benefit of the entire region. At Summit held in Islamabad in March 1995. The the operational level, no doubt, there is a lot to Science Foundation shall serve for building up be done, especially with a view to increasing the a reservoir of highly skilled, scientific and speed, efficiency and responsiveness of the technical manpower and strengthening the Organization to cope with the rapidly changing scientific and research institutions in the ECO situation in and around the region. MSs. The Foundation has a Board of Trustees and a Board of Governors to direct and In the ECO region, despite divergence of conduct the general management. The political systems and varying degrees of headquarters of the Foundation are to be national priorities or non-complementarily of located in Islamabad where the first meeting of the economies, there is a lot in common in the Board of Trustees of the Foundation is terms of geography and culture and in terms of planned to be held in 2002. the shared resolve to overcome their economic 9.3 ECO Educational Institute problems. ECO MSs have the political resolve During the 5th ECO Summit and the 8th to work together for their collective wellbeing COM Meeting held in Almaty (Kazakhstan) in and our combined efforts will bring much- May 1998, ECO MSs signed the Charter for desired socio-economic uplift for the people of the ECO Educational Institute (EI) with the aim the region. to broaden and enlarge the scope of cooperation among ECO countries in the field of education and training. The proposed 13 Point of view standstills plaguing ECO’s smooth conduct of business be clearly identified. ECO REVISITED It is not the intention to deal with this matter in such a By: Behzad Alipour Tehrani ECO Program officer short essay. Though, in strategizing the Organization, it is vital to assume a pragmatic and dynamic approach. In At the anniversary of its decade long expansion, ECO the context of realizing what have already been agreed deserves to be revisited. and adopted by ECO’s decision bodies, the rapidly changing global environment as well as emergence of The gathering of seven Ministers from ECO Member better practices in areas of mandates and interests States on Nov. 14 in New York has bestowed the should be taken into account. This means that the Organization with a long awaited shrift to reassert itself in provisions of ECO agreements such as those stated the backdrop of a fluid regional /international earlier would not turn out to be the end of the world for environment. It has set a milestone in ECO’s history. ECO. Even if their wholesale implementation face Momentum demonstrated by virtually all Members who difficulties, better practices could never be denied of the had turned out at a rarely noticed scale and level was Organization as far as the prime objectives underlying notable and inspiring. Even those who previously chose those agreements remain intact. to assume a lower profile within ECO vowed striking commitments to advance the Organization’s future The Organization as run by its distinct organs (the activities. decision machinery composed of Member States at various levels as well as the Secretariat) clearly finds Subsequent meetings with the UN Secretary General, dividing lines in responsibilities shouldered by each side. Mr. Kofi Annan and the World Bank President, Mr. James Nevertheless, there are shared responsibilities by both in Wolfensohn in the backdrop of the developments our terms of infusing ideas that could bring the Organization region is experiencing, was another proof of how a closer to action. The ideas are, in fact, should regional Organization such as ECO might gain relevance consistently be tabled to incite hopes of breakthroughs in and reasserts its raison d’etre and objectives. In those the Region’s economic life and not the other way round. meetings ECO has clearly been sought to share its mandate with the international community concerning the Insufficient progress in physical infrastructure Region’s development and to create proper relevant beneficial to the whole region should be factored in any synergies for cooperation. Aside from what could be assessment of the overall performance of the judged in terms of protocols and visits, the Ministers and Organization. Although such task largely remains delegations echoed deep sentiments of attachment and incumbent upon individual Member States to fulfill, but dedication to the cause of the ECO Region and renewed still many might expect that the activities of the their pertinent commitments. Organization should somehow lead to better access to physical infrastructure. Unavailability of sufficient sources While it is important to mark such development as a of financing has often proved to hinder realizations of new milestone for the Organization, one should remain such aspiration. ECO can only identify viable projects, vigilant on pitfalls that time and again hampered regional arrange preliminary studies for some of them and provide cooperation. Past history of ECO has not always instruments that facilitate and help improve their pictured a safe and easy road for the Organization and operations after the pertinent infrastructure or project is its Member States in dealing with the issues of completed. At the same time the position of the Member importance to them. States in avoiding full or even partial implementation of some ECO instruments themselves ratified is fully Let us think aloud and recall criticisms the understandable and justifiable. The hard fact is that Organization has often been the target of: a mesmerized implementations of those regulatory frameworks and intra-trade ratio (often on a downward slope) hostage to instruments involve institution buildings and a framework agreement entailing hardly any concrete commitments on the part of individual Member States: a agreement; entanglement of framework agreements on costly process barely entailing immediate benefits that transit transport and trade to a slow moving process of could justify even a minimal capitalization amongst the ratification and implementation (if not to say standstill) resources scarce states. Taking those factors into long after their signature (and in some cases ratification); account we will be more comfortable when dealing with lack of improvement on food security issues, etc. Such criticisms as those brought above as examples. circumstances might have cooled down hopes on what the Organization is expected to deliver. Needless to say ECO has been there to receive all the blames and to that, each individual case ought to be scrutinized and survive under tenuous circumstances surrounding it. analyzed separately so that the root causes for the Certain achievements are not seemingly worth 14 mentioning and it is not intended to provide a slot for it this article to the celebration of ECO Day on here since self -acclamation is beyond our intention. 28th November in the year 2001. The subject of „dialogue among civilizations‟ is more relevant As an organization geared to carrying out its and significant to ECO since the very mandates, ECO is by all means well aware of the establishment and primary role of the ECO as shortfalls affecting fulfillment of its objectives. an Organization actually, fulfils the objectives Nevertheless, the negotiation process among its to promote and enhance dialogue among the stakeholders is increasingly becoming objective oriented. ECO member states located in this important Aside from all the shortcomings one recalls, ECO is region of the World. indispensably receiving impulses from the international community on the mission and the role that could, in The proclamation of the year 2001 as the future, be entrusted to it. As far as ECO exists it cannot year of „dialogue among civilizations’ is truly, remain non-committal to such impulses. The sheer fact is an acknowledgment by the World body about that the changing global landscape heavily casts shadow the need for awareness of this topic among on our region and on the Organization’s drive towards nations which could not have been felt greater regional integration. Such circumstances, no doubt, than at the time of the dawn of the 21st century. provide challenges as well as fresh opportunities that The world is, therefore, expected to try the new may herald a new mission for the Organization. ways and approaches that are necessary to bring about a real sustainable peace and ECO’s role and obligations are increasingly brought development. The current situation in the world under spotlight in respect of the region it is looking after. all the more makes it clear that we must re- That is why Mr. Annan the UN Secretary General calls think about the aspects of the way in which we upon ECO Secretary General to cooperate with his address the economy, the environment and Special Representative for Afghanistan and the World the security. Today, the World is coping with Bank goes beyond bilateral limits in conducting major challenges. The problems faced by the cooperation and prescribes short and long term regional world are Big; the solutions required are also, activities in the context of the crisis occurring within the therefore, Big. To deal with this sort of ECO region. situation, it is believed, the world, together, The changing global landscape has set the stage for alone can perhaps push back some of the ECO to assume a new perspective as well. ECO needs borders of conventional thinking, break new to be revisited in this context. grounds and find the resolve and will to embark upon the path to far-reaching new solutions since many of the problems in the past have arisen because of short-sightedness Dialogue Among Civilizations and short-term perspectives. Today, the world Its relevance to past, present & future is more conscious than ever before of shared stewardship of this planet and shared By Mr. Ali Arif Executive Director, ECO Cultural Institute responsibilities. Today, more than ever, nations and countries need the guidance of The celebration of ECO Day each year is a universal values. They have to make the reminder about the accession to the Treaty of transition from a culture of violence, Izmir at an Extraordinary Meeting of the ECO oppression and war to a culture of dialogue, Council of Ministers held in Islamabad, tolerance and non-violence. Pakistan on 28th November, 1992. But the As we stand on the threshold of a new commemoration of ECO Day in the year 2001, millennium, let us for a moment draw our becomes more significant since the Year 2001 breaths to ponder together for search of our had been proclaimed as the United Nations common human heritage. Our physical Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations by the heritage must be protected and our intangible 185-member UN General Assembly, held in cultural heritage is equally important. So is our September, 2000, on the proposal of H.E. Mr. genetic heritage. Human beings do recognize Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic their identity through the cultures which have Republic of Iran, a great honour for an ECO nourished them through the Ages. Their sense Member State and thus, rightly a matter of of worth and personal dignity very much lies in pride for the entire ECO. In view of this special recognition by others of the contribution made importance, ECI has thought it befitting to by each one of them to enrich the tapestry of analyze the importance of the subject of the world‟s civilizations. The best source is „dialogue among civilizations’ by dedicating through education, to recognize what each 15 culture owes to other cultures, awareness of enrichment of thoughts and ideas. In fact, which contributes to lift curtains of hate, scorn, study of history in this part of the world ignorance, poverty and knits a richer legacy for appears to be the best illustration to us. One of the strongest foundations for understand how the interaction of peoples from human success to achieve the objectives of different cultural, social, economic and peace and culture will be a worldwide religious backgrounds had produced inter- awareness of cultural identity and of the mixture and development of architecture, importance of intercultural dialogue, of the culture, heritage, art, literature, customs, defense of cultural identities and better sports and traditions. Even in the Indo-Pak knowledge of others. How soon the culture of sub-continent, the period of Muslim rule in the peace will replace the politics of war and subcontinent combined in itself components of violence will depend on the thinking of those Afghan, the Islamic (or Arabic), the Turkish countries which matter in shaping the affairs of and the Persian and of course, not the least, the world: their determination and conviction to the indigenous influence of the local non- bring about these changes and to make the Muslim environment with heritage of an transition from the logic of force to the force of ancient civilization and ultimately, the pre- reason, dialogue and non-violence. Through dominantly Muslim majority of the Indian origin. frequent dialogues, we can prevent or end The Persian influence was found more wars which can be understood more or less as prominent in the fields of mysticism, a cultural dialogue as well. Needless to say, philosophy, literature and fine arts. that where nations and peoples nurture or nourish memories of long-standing historic Never before have all the world‟s peoples grievances and cultural omissions, dialogues become so completely aware of their common bring these into open when these are destiny, as common sharer in the planet‟s gifts. assessed with intellectual honesty and deep To cope with the lofty challenge of concern for one another‟s merits which enable „globalization‟, we must learn to adapt. We us to undo past wrongs. Let us hope that in the need to understand that while our heritage or 21st century, the egocentric thinking will give legacies sustain us, and richly distinguish us, way to the benevolence or selfless approach, these should never divide us. At times, an approach or attitude that embraces and cultures while borrowing from one another does not reject others. have conflicted violently for which the application of cultural modesty would always The World‟s history is a history of many help to make us generous enough in enabling civilizations, of their progress and their inter- us learn from others. Civilizations endlessly relations. To quote Samuel Huntington, change and absorb new patterns, as they “Civilizations are the biggest „we‟ within which redefine themselves in the light of new we feel culturally at home as distinguished surrounding requirements and moral from all the other „themes‟ out there”. Ibn standards. New technologies in instantaneous Khaldun, a Muslim historian of the 14th communication provide unlimited access to century, had said that civilizations follow a knowledge----but those excluded sink into an process - they go through different stages. ever deeper technological gap. No cultural community can today, therefore, dwell in To understand very well the meaning of secluded isolation. While some cultures did „dialogue among civilizations‟, it is also experience long periods of geographical imperative to study its relevance to past, isolation, others have traded goods, works of present and future of the mankind. It is said art, ideas, crafts, scripts, habits, and scientific that the past is not behind us but all around us. concepts, for centuries. . As contrary to the It is a matter of history that communication or past, when the diversity was considered a interaction of peoples through any mode of barrier or impediment in interaction, it is today, interconnection anywhere or in any part of the believed that the correct approach can in fact, World has introduced new changes in the serve as resource to manage cultural social and cultural life of those coming in differences around our pluralistic society. More contact with each other. The world‟s great than ever before, our global society teaches us creeds have been exchanging lessons for that no man is an island. To quote Albert centuries. Central Asia has been one of the Einstein, who said, “The World today is one or most fascinating meeting-grounds in the world none”. That makes interaction indispensable. for the study of such mutual influence and The problems of other peoples have 16 consequences for us all, be they economic, the age of globality -----producing an inter- environmental, political, social or cultural. dependent world or the vital aspect of world community -----has been primarily due to the While addressing the Centre for Islamic process of economic, financial, scientific and Studies in Oxford, England, the Secretary technological approach towards formation of General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Kofi social organization and new values. To quote Annan had said, “Civilizations, no longer exist from the words of Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, as separate entities in the way once did. But DG/UNESCO, he said,” We are probably modern societies still bear the strong stamp of witnessing the birth of a civil society that is history, and still identify each other along equally global in scope, woven together by ties cultural fault lines. Today‟s dialogue must be that are not necessarily language and peaceful one. That is one reason why I believe community of place but rather hopes, fears it has to proceed on the basis of a set of and shared criteria as regards the future of the shared values. The doctrine of „live and let live‟ species and the environment. The need to will only work if all cultures and all societies safeguard „cultural diversity‟ is just as essential accept it as the norm.” to the survival of humanity as „natural diversity‟. Keeping one‟s identity intact while Communication itself is a mode for developing one‟s ability to express oneself and exchange of knowledge information and views to share one‟s wealth with the wide variety of among people. While every nation has a right creative forces, are now a vital aspect of the to project that image of the World which reflect enhancement of the heritage of humanity: both its requirements, objectives, ethics or morals, the heritage of the past and the heritage of the values, desires or expectations and cultural future.” norms, however, cross cultural thinking should more clearly explain that culture and In his address, the President of the civilization are relative. „Dialogue among Republic of Poland, H.E. Mr. Aleksander civilizations’ helps in preventing domination by Kwasniewski at the opening of International one civilization and encourages interaction of Conference on „Dialogue Among Civilizations‟, collective thought of human minds much held in April 2001, in Vilnius, Lithuania, said, “If beyond human limitations which help in globalization is only limited to its technical, tackling the complex issues from many points economic and media manifestations, and if it of view based on exploration of people‟s does not produce genuine partnership experience and thought. Civilizations are fertile between cultures and people, it will be of no mixtures---all have borrowed from one other avail. „Dialogue among civilizations‟ must well before our age of electronic involve our abilities to speak and to listen; to communications. The understanding of contribute and to benefit from the others. ” „dialogue among civilizations’, would therefore, Despite a few unhappy beginnings yet, in not let one civilization thrust itself on other the 21st century, optimism should prevail in the civilizations but allows others‟ participation as interest of promotion of peace world-wide. well. It provides enrichment of cultures and However difficult it may appear to be hopeful civilizations through process of dialogue, about peace at the present time, we should whether it is through listening or speaking thus, neither be hopeless nor helpless. There can be giving opportunity to groups or nations fully no lasting peace without respect for the dignity explain themselves before others would judge of individuals and peoples. We should them, with emphasis on similarities and endeavor to install the culture of peace which assimilation of differences. Together we can will enable us to live together and to cope with now advance on a quest to put into practice the changing conditions of the world. The our shared understanding of the role of culture values of culture of peace offer us a vision, a in sustainable development. mobilizing concept, on which we can act to Our whole planet is being affected, in one make a real difference. way or the other, by the expansion of a system In summary, it is worth pointing that despite that has become so overwhelming that it has frequent incidents engulfing outbreaks of become difficult to delineate its outlines with sectarian and racist violence or conflicts, precision. The image of a gigantic worldwide hatred, intolerance, it is still reassuring to note web spun by the modern communication that nations and peoples across the globe are technologies is an outstanding hallmark of the mobilizing their awareness that mankind‟s fate present era. The emergence of globalization or is closely linked which makes it all the more 17 essential for components of humanity‟s cultural identities to reach each other to secure better ECO Bulletin is published quarterly by the secretariat of the universal understanding. United Nations, Economic Cooperation Organization. Opinions expressed in despite a few disappointments, continues to articles and other materials are those of the authors and do not stand as a „family of nations‟, which inspires necessarily reflect ECO policy. the mankind to look forward to ideals for Secretariat of the Economic Cooperation Organisation promotion of wisdom of peace. Dialogues in any form, whether through international Address: No.1 Golbou Alley, Kamraniyeh, meetings between civilizations or nations, or Tehran – Islamic Republic of IRAN through interaction of cultures and traditions, P.O. Box: 14155-6176 do reflect a common urge to recognize one another‟s mutually enriching diversity, within Tel : (9821) 2831733-34 one mankind, thus, contributing significantly to Fax: (9821) 2831732 enhance common thought on important issues as globalization, peace, universal human WEB: http://www.ecosecretariat.org E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org rights, and sustainable development of the World as a whole. Editors Note: his special issue of Bulletin marks the sixteenth anniversary of an organization, which is taking its place in the Economic Cooperation International arena as a major regional player. In today‟s world of regionalism, Organization considered as a gate to a much desired phenomenon of globalization, the shared resolve and the political will of the ECO The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) consists member states, to work together in order of ten Member States namely the Islamic State of to overcome the existing obstacles and Afghanistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic challenges is commendable and the Republic of Iran, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz crucial role which this organization may Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Republic play in inducing regional peace and of Tajikistan, the Republic of Turkey, Turkmenistan and stability is irrefutable. The UN Secretary the Republic of Uzbekistan. These ten Member States General H.E. Kofi Annan reverberated this and their populations are linked together for centuries fact when he recently met ECO Secretary because of common history, culture and traditions. Main General Dr. Abdolrahim Gavahi in New objective of the ECO is sustainable economic York. The UN chief while emphasizing the development of its member states and economic uplift, importance of the regional conditions and welfare & well being of its people. the volatile situation in Afghanistan has expressed his positive views on the “expansion of cooperation between UN specialized agencies and ECO”. He justifiably called for “closer cooperation Editorial Board: and coordination of ECO Secretary General with UN special envoy for Ali Sabzalian,Editor Afghanistan affairs to prepare plans for the stability and reconstruction of Mohammad Harandi, Assistant to editor Afghanistan”. Aamir Ghani Mir, Computer Assistant On the other hand it would not be a Morteza Mirhashemi, Administration/coordinator totally invalid point to state that the line of communication in publicizing and making MohammadReza Malakooti, Graphics & Design known the importance and activities of ECO to outside world, and even to its own member states has been less than desirable and far below ECO‟s declared goal. 18 To change this trend, the editorial board of the ECO Bulletin, recognizing this deficiency is resolved to meet the challenge and do its share of removing this inadequacy. We have tried to substantially improve the contents of the bulletin to educate the public about ECO. To delineate briefly ECO‟s past history, sectoral achievements and its subsidiary institutions, a whole issue of ECO Day Special has been planned. We hope that this modest effort will lay the foundation for a more comprehensive evaluation and in- depth assessment of ECO‟s past accomplishments, failure if any, potentials and future challenges. ECO research officer, Mr. Alipour Tehrani‟s discerning article offers a new perspective and an excellent lead in this respect. Finally a word of appreciation goes to Mr. Ali Aref, the executive Director of ECO Cultural Institute for his judicious article about “Dialogue Among Civilizations, its relevance to past, present and future”. Ali Sabzalian Editor 19
"A Brief History"