Leaders share visions os prosperity, cooperation at Istanbul ECO summit
Boosting intraregional trade and prioritizing energy, transportation and finance among member countries were the key issues discussed yesterday at the 11th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization, held in Istanbul's Ciragan Palace. "Other ECO members expressed their desire to be partners of the ECO Commerce and Development Bank, established in 2008 by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan to better finance projects in the ECO framework," President Abdullah Gul told a press conference. "We are working to achieve regional dialogue and cooperation mechanisms," Gul said in his opening speech at the summit, adding that these are crucial for boosting stability and prosperity in the region, as well as creating a more just world order. All members of the Economic Cooperation Organization, a group of Central Asian states, should sign ECOTA, a free trade agreement signed by five ECO countries in 2008 to foster economic integration in the region, Gul said. "Intraregional trade (among ECO countries) has remained at very low levels of 7 percent, and we must accept that this is a failure for all of us," Gul said, calling regional economic and commercial cooperation crucial. He also called for wider participation in the activities of the ECO Bank, which started operating in Istanbul in 2008. Pointing to ECO countries' strategic geographical position and wealth of natural and human resources, Gul called on all ECO members to work to revitalize the targets of ECO Vision 2015.