An international seminar in Tashkent next week will focus on the challenges facing the Central Asian region in the energy sector and how inter-governmental cooperation can contribute to meeting those challenges, IRNA reported from Brussels.
The 2-day seminar titled ''Regional Energy Cooperation in Central Asia and the Role of the Energy Charter Process'', to be held on 23-24 September is organized by the Brussels-based Energy Charter Secretariat jointly with the Government of Uzbekistan.
This is the first time that the Energy Charter is organizing a conference outside its headquarters, said Dr.Ria Kemper, Secretary General of the Energy Charter, in an exclusive interview with IRNA in Brussels.
''The main aim of the seminar is to stimulate a dialogue on energy cooperation in the Central Asia region,'' said Kemper, adding that four topics: trade, transit, investment and energy efficiency will be the focus of discussions.
Senior business and government representatives from the states of Central Asia and their neighbours are expected to participate in the seminar.
China and Iran, both observers in the Energy Charter, have been invited to participate in the meeting.
The Iranian delegation will be led by Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, Deputy Minister of Petroleum.
He is to speak on ''Energy Cooperation in the Eurasian area - an Iranian perspective.''
''There is a growing recognition of the role which the Central Asian region, the Caspian region and also Iran can play in supplying Europe with oil and gas and in particular to give diversification of energy supplies,'' said Kemper, a former German diplomat and a specialist in international law and energy affairs.
The Energy Charter process is an international organization of which all five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) are full members along with 46 other states and the European Union.
Kemper noted that Iran is already an observer member of the Energy Charter, while separate negotiations are being carried on between Tehran and the European Commission on a Trade and Cooperation agreement.
''I do think that Iran, as far as the Energy Charter is concerned, would be a genuine partner and a very valid member for us given of course its eminent role as producer of oil and gas,'' she said.
The European Commission is represented in the Tashkent Seminar which underlines the active interest of the EU to participate. A number of representatives from the business community such as the BP is also participating in the meeting, Kemper told IRNA.
The seminar, organized with the financial support of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will discuss several important topics such as ''Oil and Gas Transit in the Central Asia Region,'' ''Electricity Issues in Central Asia,'' ''Energy Cooperation in the Wider Asian Area.''
The Energy Charter Treaty was signed in 1994 and entered into force in 1998. The Treaty provides the broadest multilateral framework of rules in existence under international law concerning energy trade, investments, transit and dispute settlement.
The Energy Charter Secretariat, based in Brussels, is the permanent body of officials that serves the Energy Charter process.
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