The 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on November 28, 2021.
At the end of the summit, the Ashgabat Declaration was adopted. The Ashgabat Declaration contains provisions in the interests of Azerbaijan. The document congratulated the people and government of Azerbaijan on the liberation of the occupied territories and the restoration of territorial integrity. During the meeting, it was also noted that the ECO Research Center will be launched in Baku.
One of the important points of the meeting was the views of the ECO member states on the Zangazur corridor. The realities created by Azerbaijan in the region are supported by the ECO member states.
“Azerbaijan has the infrastructure in the energy sector that can help the Iranian economy. Thus, Iran may use Azerbaijan's infrastructure to participate in Europe's gas supply,” Iranian expert Morteza Behrouzifar told TurkicWorld.
Behrouzifar said that if relations between the two countries become closer, Iran can enter the European gas market through the South Gas Corridor, which crossing in Azerbaijan and Turkey. With the development of relations between Iran and Azerbaijan, the economy can be further diversified.
The export stressed that Turkey is the main energy importer among the member states of the Economic Cooperation Organization. It is true that countries such Pakistan and Afghanistan are also energy importers, but they do not have a large share in this area.
Also, former Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohsen Pakayin said that Iran and Azerbaijan, which have common ties in a number of areas, can become a stronger partners within the ECO.
"Along with economic fields such as trade, energy, agriculture, tourism, and transit, in this context, they can cooperate in the political and humanitarian spheres, including the fight against terrorism, human trafficking, and drugs," he said.
According to Pakayin, the activation of the North-South Transport Corridor, and construction of the Rasht-Astara railway within the corridor will link Iran to Russia, Georgia, the Black Sea via the Azerbaijani railway, as well as, Georgia, Russia and Azerbaijan to the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf via Iran.
"This corridor is one of the most important corridors in the region because other ECO member states can also use this railway line. Therefore, this railway line can be called a connecting line for the region. In this regard, other ECO member states can encourage both Azerbaijan and Iran related to the North-South Transport Corridor, and if possible, they may provide the necessary support,” the ex-ambassador added.
Pakayin also pointed out that on the other hand, the four Caspian littoral states of the ECO can create opportunities for other member states in various fields by increasing maritime transit.
Furthermore, the ex-representative of Iran to OPEC Mohammad Ali Khatibi said that if the North-South and East-West transport corridors are activated, the interests of the ECO member states can be better ensured.
Khatibi said that the ECO is a regional organization of great importance. Currently, no country in the world can take big steps alone. Therefore, countries can benefit greatly only through membership in regional and international organizations.
“In order to activate these transport corridors, cooperation between the countries should be strengthened, and joint investments should be made in such projects,” he added.
Khatibi also noted that as a regional organization, the ECO can unite the countries of the region, remove barriers to their economic relations and facilitate economic cooperation between its members.
The expert pointed out that energy cooperation between ECO members can also be developed. Thus, some of the member countries of this organization are oil importers and some are oil exporters. These needs can be met within the organization. Cooperation within the organization can facilitate the exchange of energy in both oil and gas.
Khatibi emphasized that organizations such as the ECO help to maintain relations between countries while preventing the deterioration of these relations.
"Once the misunderstandings are resolved, there are opportunities to develop economic, energy, and trade relations. Iran and Azerbaijan can maintain good relations as two neighboring countries," the ex-representative said.