The Organisation of Economic Cooperation (ECO) has emerged as the successor to the Organisation of the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), which was established in 1964 between Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, with the modification of RCD’s founding agreement called Treaty of İzmir in 1985. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, 7 new countries applied for membership, whose accession was approved at an Extraordinary Meeting of ECO Council of Ministers held in Islamabad in November, 1992. The number of member states of ECO has increased to 10 with the accession of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. ECO, today, has become a regional organisation involving 350 million people by spreading throughout an area of 7 million square kilometers.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was recognised as the “Turkish Muslim Community of Cyprus” with the modalities set in the 11th ECO Council of Ministers meeting in November 1992. With this title, Turkish Cypriots were granted high level participation at the Regional Planning Council meetings, at all the Technical Committee meetings on economics, technical issues and culture, at the Specialized Agencies’ meetings and seminars, but without the right to vote. The participation of the TRNC in the ECO with the name of the “Turkish Cypriot State” was recognized at the 14th Council of Ministers Meeting in 2004.
TRNC has been attending regularly to all the Regional Planning Council Meetings since 1993, while being represented at the lower level meetings as much as it has been possible.
The General Secretariat of ECO: The Secretariat consists of a Secretary General and the staff whose numbers are determined according to the needs of the organization. The Secretary General is elected for four-year terms. The position of General Secretary is rotated between the founding members every four years. H.E. Dr. Shamil Alekserov from Azerbaijan has been elected as Secretary General in 2012. The General Secretariat is responsible for the communication and coordination of member countries as well as the preparation of the necessary documents relating to the content of the meetings. There are many ongoing cooperational activities in different fields of mutual benefit between the ECO member states and these activities are conducted through six Directorates under the supervision of the Secretary General. The fields of cooperation are;
- Trade and Investment
- Transport and Telecommunications
- Energy, Minerals and Environment
- Agriculture, Industry and Tourism
- Project & Economic Research and Statistics
- Human Resources & Sustainable Development
- International Relations
The ECO Summits: The ECO Summit Meetings are held every two years with the participation of Heads of States/Governments in a consultative manner. 12th ECO Summit Meeting was held in Azerbaijan, in 2012, which the TRNC was granted the observer status.
The Council of Ministers: The ECO Council of Ministers is the highest desicion-making body of the organization which meets once a year with the participation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. TRNC was represented by a delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Özdil Nami, at the 21st ECO Council of Ministers meeting.
The Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR): CPR consists of the Permanent Representatives/Ambassadors of the Member States accredited to the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as to the ECO and the Director General for ECO Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Regional Planning Council (RPC): The RPC is composed of the Heads of the Planning Organization of the Member States and other high-level specialized representatives of corresponding authorities. This body prepares the economic agenda of the ECO region as well as the focal points of the programmes of action and projects, ensures regular coordination among designated focal points in each area of activity on the national level, monitors the progress of the implementation of the approved programmes of action and projects, and submits the annual report to the Council of Ministers. TRNC has been attending regularly to all Regional Planning Council Meetings since the 3rd RPC Meeting held in 1993. The 24th RPC meeting was held in the Islamic Republic of Iran in 23-26 February 2014 and TRNC was represented by a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by the Director in charge of relations with OIC Countries.
The TRNC has hosted three ECO events in the past years. These events include the workshops on “Air and Water Pollution Control” in August 1998, “The Management of the Wastewater and Cleansing Technology” in May 2004, and the “ECO 1st University Sport Games” in April 2013.
The Annan Plan which was prepared by the former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was put to simultaneous referenda on both sides in Cyprus on 24 April 2004, which contained the acknowledgement of the “Turkish Cypriot State”. On September 2004, the Economic Cooperation of Organisation held the 14th Council of Ministers meeting in Dushanbe, where, in line with the Annan Plan, a resolution was adopted to acknowledge the TRNC as the “Turkish Cypriot State” from this date on and to participate in all the meetings of the OIC with this title.
As regards the status and the representation of the TRNC in ECO and to further relations with its member states, TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a formal application to the Secretary General in August 2012 for observer member status. Subsequently, our application was put on the agenda at the 20th Council of Ministers meeting held in October 2012 in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Our observer membership status was accepted at the 12th Summit Meeting of ECO states organized at the level of the State or Government Heads in Baku on 16 October 2012. As observer member of ECO, TRNC considers its relations and cooperation with ECO member states to be mutually beneficial for furthering progress and development.