ECO is an intergovernmental regional organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey for the purpose of promoting economic, technical and cultural cooperation among member states. The organization was expanded in 1992 to include seven new members, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi has proposed drafting an “energy charter” for the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) aimed at expanding energy cooperation among the member states, Press TV reports. “Regional energy cooperation should be a top priority for ECO member countries. Governments could facilitate such cooperation through private entities. This way they can guarantee regional energy security and free trade, but for this we have to come up with an energy charter first.” Qasemi made the remarks in an address to the third ministerial meeting of ECO in Tehran on Wednesday. He said the charter could cover all aspects of ECO’s commercial energy activities including trade, transit, investments and energy efficiency. The Iranian oil minister also said that despite holding around one fourth of the world’s total natural gas reserves and one eighth of crude oil reserves, ECO countries have had limited energy cooperation or free trade. Meanwhile, several European officials who attended the meeting voiced their countries’ support for more cooperation with ECO in this regard. “We have a particular interest and are trying to offer cooperation to the regional states particularly in the energy sector,” said Jens-Petter Kjemprud, the Norwegian ambassador to Tehran. Swedish Ambassador to Tehran Peter Tejler also expressed his country’s “support” for every step taken by ECO in this regard. Also Alessandro Amadio, an official at the UN Industrial Development Organization, pointed to the ongoing Iranian projects in the industrial sector saying, “We are helping the Iranian government to have access” to the needed funds in this regard. Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Qasemi said ECO member countries will form consortiums to expand their cooperation in the energy sector.
“The state and the private sectors of ECO member countries are to form joint consortiums aimed at expanding cooperation in the energy sector,” said Qasemi.Considering that the ECO region holds a huge portion of the word’s energy reserves, it was decided that ECO members cooperate in the various fields of training, research, distribution, production and exploration. ECO is an intergovernmental regional organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey for the purpose of promoting economic, technical and cultural cooperation among member states. The organization was expanded in 1992 to include seven new members, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. ECO provides its members with a platform to discuss ways of improving economic development, and promoting trade and investment opportunities. YH/HJL/MA