A comprehensive declaration adopted amid Thursday's Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) on future cooperation perspectives will serve as an "important roadmap," Turkey's foreign minister said on Thursday.
Hosting the 17th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the ACD via video conference, Mevlut Cavusoglu praised all member states for their contributions to the Ankara Declaration
Cavusoglu said the comprehensive declaration would "lay the ground for action in the next decade under the six pillars of cooperation of the ACD" -- connectivity; science, technology and innovation; development of education and human resources; food, energy and water security nexus; culture and tourism; support for comprehensive and sustainable development.
New Normal and Safe and Healthy Tourism
Hosting the meeting with the theme of The New Normal and Safe and Healthy Tourism, Cavusoglu said Turkey's term as chair of the organization coincided with a historic global crisis, the novel coronavirus pandemic, which he underlined hit all societies and economies.
Held virtually due to the coronavirus outbreak across the globe, the meeting discussed the pandemic's economic and social effects as its participants exchanged views on the ACD's joint activities against these challenges.
In a speech, Cavusoglu underlined that countries "dependent on trade, tourism, foreign remittances, and hydrocarbons felt the effect of the pandemic, even more," adding that the impact on the tourism sector had been particularly harsh.
"With the advent of vaccines, we all started preparing ourselves for the aftermath of COVID-19 and the new normal. It is time for reflection, the pandemic has proven that without innovative policies and solidarity we cannot win," he said.
This is also valid for building more resilient economies and tourism sectors, Cavusoglu added.
He noted that during the pandemic, Turkey had been among the first countries to reopen for tourism. "Thanks to our timely and innovative measures [...] Turkey was able to host nearly 15 million visitors last year."
Following the meeting, the ministers adopted the Ankara Declaration on future cooperation perspectives, Turkish diplomatic sources said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Turkey's presidency for the 2019-2020 term was also extended until September 2021 during the meeting.
The last meeting of the forum was held in Qatar’s capital Doha on May 1, 2019.
The Asia Cooperation Dialogue was established as an intergovernmental forum in 2002 to develop cooperation among Asian countries and improve the competitiveness of Asia at the global level.
With 35 member countries, the forum has the highest number of attendees in Asia.
Turkey launched its Asia Anew initiative in 2019 to improve ties with Asian nations in different areas.