Excellency, President Ilham Aliyev,
Excellency, Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Excellency, Mr. Sadyr Japarov, President of the Kyrgyz Republic,
Excellency, Mr. Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan,
Excellency, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan,
Excellency, Mr. Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia,
Excellency, Mr. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary,
Excellency, Mr. Hojamyrat Geldimyradov, Deputy Chairman of Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan,
Ms. Tatiana Molcean, Executive Secretary of UNECE,
Excellencies, Heads of State, Heads of Government, ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to be with you on this special occasion. I would like, at the outset, to express my appreciation to His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev for hosting this landmark Summit.
The Tashkent Declaration, which led to the adoption of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia, aimed at supporting cooperation, creating incentives for economic development and facilitating integration with the economies of Europe and Asia.
Since then, SPECA has expanded from its founding four members to seven. Their transition into market economies, pursuance of various economic strategies and attainment of economic growth have transformed the region. Yet they still face common challenges resulting from their landlockedness, demographic structures as well as shared environment.
SPECA aims to address these challenges by enhancing cooperation in trade, transport, innovation and technology, water, energy and environment, statistics as well as gender and sustainable development.
As reflected in the theme of the SPECA Economic Forum, which just concluded a few days ago, the transformation of this region into a connectivity hub with global outreach requires a multi-sectoral approach, which consists of:
- Continued development of transport routes, including the trans-Caspian corridor, will be critical for improving connectivity in this landlocked region;
- Digital trade facilitation measures should be expanded in tandem to further reduce trade costs;
- To align connectivity with sustainability, energy systems should be integrated with renewable power generation;
- Emerging technologies must be embraced, digital infrastructure expanded and digital skills strengthened to foster competitivity in all sectors.
- Enhancing the economic participation and empowerment of women could expand the scale of this connectivity hub.
As we look towards the future, we must ensure that this multisectoral approach is inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific was established in Shanghai in 1947 to facilitate concerted action for economic reconstruction and development of Asia and the Pacific, following General Assembly Resolution 46(I) of 11 December 1946. All participating countries of SPECA are our members.
The adoption of resolution 78/1, the Bangkok Declaration, to commemorate our seventy-fifth anniversary last year called for a common agenda to advance sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.
While celebrating the extraordinary socioeconomic progress in a region that is now home to the world’s most dynamic economies, the resolution also recognized the outstanding development challenges of persisting inequalities and vulnerabilities.
Our members pledged their support to the Commission to confront regional, transboundary and common challenges, and reaffirmed their commitment to advance sustainable development.
Our support towards regional economic development includes assistance on transport and economic corridors, paperless trade, e-commerce, renewable energy, digitalization and innovation.
Maintaining international financial stability, mitigating climate change and attaining sustainable development can be achieved only by working together.
The integration of our members under SPECA with the economies of Asia and the Pacific takes place under this framework.
The convening of this Summit and the adoption of the General Assembly Resolution commemorating this twenty-fifth anniversary have placed SPECA on the forefront of our development agenda.
The Ganja Declaration adopted by SPECA when it met in Azerbaijan in 2016 recalled the commitment of all stakeholders for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; welcomed the progress made towards mainstreaming the Goals in national development strategies; and recognized the importance of infrastructure, innovation, and diversification to drive economic growth and sustainable development.
With the 2030 Agenda calling for inclusive and sustainable development, our efforts should ultimately benefit the people at the geographical heart of the region.
As we chart our common future, we stand ready to support our members in this endeavour.
Thank you very much.