The 3rd General Conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of ECO Member States (PAECO) was hosted by the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Baku on May 16-18, 2022. The event was organized under the Chairpersonship of Speaker of the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan, Her Excellency Prof. Dr. Sahiba Gafarova. The Heads/Deputy Heads of Parliaments of the ECO Member States, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan, as well as the ECO Secretary General participated in the Conference.
In her inaugural remarks, Dr. Sahiba Gafarova extended sincere gratitude to the distinguished delegates, giving them a very warm welcome in the magnificent city of Baku. Taking over the presidency of the PAECO, she noted that more dedication and strong efforts are required to make the forum firmly institutionalized with extended owner/partnership by all ECO Member States. she believed that by doing so, the relevancy and effectiveness of PAECO would increase to support the overall agenda of the ECO which is based on the mutual interest and joint socioeconomic development of the member nations. She added that the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan is more than enthusiastic and determined to maximize its contribution and role for the transformation of PAECO into a successful model of regional parliamentary diplomacy. In the context of COVID-19 and the post-pandemic challenges, she said that although the world has begun to observe some indications of recovery, it needs more time to get back to the complete normalization.
The ECO Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Khusrav Noziri, while expressing his pleasure over the excellent arrangements of the Conference, felicitated the Speaker of the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan Her Excellency Dr. Sahiba Gafarova for organizing the 3rd PAECO event in the beautiful city of Baku. In his statement, he highlighted the increasing role of the parliaments in the regional and international relations, as well as worldwide propensity of parliamentary diplomacy. Within this context, he underlined the establishment of PAECO as one of the most remarkable developments in the Organization’s historic journey. Regarding working during the pandemic conditions, the Secretary General briefed the forum on the ECO’s prioritized activities to ensure maximum trade and connectivity, torching on some specific initiatives on trade promotion, liberation and facilitation. He also mentioned about the under-consideration proposals for the establishment of a Regional Payment System and an ECO Clearing Union, as well as operationalization of ECO Clean Energy Center, creation of ECO Regional Electricity Market, development of ECO Tourism Action Plan, Regional Consultation Mechanism for technical cooperation on communicable diseases, especially COVID-19, Regional Capacity on Intra-Regional Trade of Pharmaceuticals as well as Enhancing Capacity in the member countries to scale up disaster management framework for cascading risks, and ECO Regional Program for Food and Security. The post-pandemic economic recovery is linked to an enlarged and scaled-up cooperation amongst the Member States; and to normalize, maintain and accelerate regional trade and related activities as well as overcome the impediments to this end, an expanded collaboration is needed, he stressed. The Secretary General considered that the role of the ECO parliaments is quite significant to speed up and finalize the signing and ratification process in regard to several important ECO Legal Frameworks which require immediate conclusions to continue moving on the ECO’s roadmap of cooperation for greater regional integration. In this context, he stressed on an early and full-fledged operationalization of the PAECO, calling it to be an unparalleled ECO entity to ensure expedited execution of the Organization’s agenda of mutual cooperation and development in the region.
The event featured discussions on several important issues, including the matters of the PAECO Secretariat and PAECO’s Rules of Procedure of the Committees. In their exclusive meetings, the committees on Trade & ECOTA, Communication and Connectivity, Women, Youth and Cultural Affairs mulled over the possibilities for maximizing regional cooperation to determine the challenges and opportunities for smooth recovery in the post-pandemic period. A Baku Declaration was also adopted by the PAECO’s General Conference to support the ECO’s broad objectives, making emphasis on the need of strong, cohesive and joint targeted actions to recover from the COVID consequences. The document, inter alia, highlighted the importance of inter-parliamentary cooperation for realization of the UN 2030 Global Agenda of Sustainable Development. Earlier in the day before the Conference, the delegates were taken to the tomb of the National Leader of Azerbaijan for wreath-laying ceremony.
During the conference, the Islamic Republic of Iran announced to host the 4th General Conference of PAECO in 2023.