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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi hosted his counterparts from Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey—Konstantin Noskov, Ramin Namiq Oglu Guluzade and Mehmet Cahit Turhan, respectively, over the past week for a multilateral conference.

During the conference, the four ministers discussed ways of boosting information and communications technology development in the region and expansion of multilateral ties, the ICT Ministry’s website reported.

At the end of the conference, the statement issued by the ministers read, “With political will, endurance and joint participation, sustainable ways for addressing every issue can be devised. This meeting sends a heartwarming message to all nations in the region, which manifests our efforts for standing united against unilateralism.”

The conference aimed to boost economic and scientific collaborations between the four nations, Financial Tribune reported.

Agreements reached during the meeting focused on promoting technology transfer and establishing joint markets for startups and knowledge-based companies.

Participants also agreed to jointly plan eight startup-related events next year. Each country will host two of these events, during which startups and tech firms are to forge new ties with their counterparts and expand their markets.

They also announced plans to jointly offer support—financial, legal and educational—to regional startups for expanding their markets to other countries, forging new ties and attracting investment. 

During the conference, Iran’s ICT minister said such a pact could “help foster digital economy in the region and protect it against the unilateralism of other countries”.

"Over the past year, we have been working closely with Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan toward the mutual goal of forming a regional market for ICT products and services," he said. 

According to Jahromi, participating dignitaries have emphasized the importance of enhancing ICT cooperation among the four countries’ private firms. 

The conference was held on July 17 on the sidelines of the 25th International Exhibition of Electronics, Computers and e-Commerce (Elecomp 2019), which was held at Tehran’s International Exhibition Center on July 18-21.



Baku Initiative

The multilateral collaboration was initiated with an agreement signed by the four countries on the sidelines of Bakutel 2018, based on which they agreed to establish startup centers with a joint investment of $2 million to expand technological collaboration.

The 24th Azerbaijan International Telecommunications, Innovations and High Technologies Exhibition and Conference, Bakutel 2018, was held in December 2018 at the Baku Expo Center. 

At the time, the Iranian ICT Ministry’s website reported that during the talks held between the four ministers, an agreement was signed to set up startup centers. The centers are to connect knowledge-based companies and startups from the four nations and help build technological cooperation.

Jahromi said, “As per the agreement with Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, centers will be set up to facilitate scientific and technological collaboration among the four nations. Each country will invest $500,000 in the project that will link experts and the educated youth. The project will help expand technological collaboration in the region.”

Underscoring the need to support startups and knowledge-based firms, Jahromi called for the creation of a “regional startup center”. 

He stressed that “startups and digital businesses are gradually claiming a bigger share of the global economy. Governments need to see the change engineered by startups and support such firms.”

The number of startups has grown significantly in Iran, the minister said, but noted that the firms have not been able to claim a fair share of the global market. 

“Creating joint startup centers can and will certainly help such firms expand their operations,” he said.

Jahromi pointed to earlier talks held by Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey over the establishment of a joint ICT market on the sidelines of the TurkmenTEL 2018 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in October 2018. 

As per the earlier agreements, national currencies of the countries could be used for trade in the proposed market that would initially be regulated by governments and later delegated to the private sector.


Turkey Iran Russia Tehran Azerbaijan conference Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi ICT Minister Regional ICT Collaboration Mehmet Cahit Turhan Konstantin Noskov Ramin Namiq Oglu Guluzade