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    • ECO Secretary General participated in Ashgabat Energy Forum
       ECO Secretary General participated in Ashgabat Energy Forum
      The Government of Turkmenistan in its capacity as the Chair of the Energy Charter Conference in 2017 and the International Energy Charter jointly organized “Ashgabat International Energy Charter Forum: Towards a Multilateral Framework Agreement on Transit of Energy Resources" on 30-31 May 2017 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The Forum provided a platform for policy dialogue on energy transit among high-level government officials, representatives of international organizations, businesses and academia with a view to promoting open energy markets, diversification of supply sources and routes.
      ECO Secretary General H.E. Ambassador Halil Ibrahim Akça participated in the Forum at the joint invitation from Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan and Secretary General of the International Energy Charter. In his statement delivered in the Opening Session of the Forum, ECO Secretary General underscored the importance of energy as one of the priority areas of cooperation within ECO, and the enhancement of coherence among key energy stakeholders in line with the recently endorsed “ECO Vision 2025”. Ambassador Akça pointed out that “ECO Vision 2025” stipulates the enhancement of energy security and sustainability through wider energy access and trade as one of ECO’s strategic objectives.
      Having highlighted the fundamental role of transit of energy resources in the ECO Region, Secretary General pointed out that the intra-regional connectivity is improving through implementation of some regional projects with global importance. He further reckoned that the regional arrangements on energy transit and transmission are conceived to generate maximum benefits to all ECO Member States, whether producer, consumer or transit countries, as well as to other stakeholders beyond. He informed the Forum on ample opportunities in the Region to achieve secure and reliable energy supply.
      ECO Secretary General also briefed the audience on ECO’s ongoing policies and activities in energy sector, and enhancing collaborative partnerships with relevant international organizations, including International Energy Charter. He gave a flavor on the initiative of establishment of ECO Regional Electricity Market (ECO-REM) which is sought to come to the fore in the ECO Region, set out as one of its main areas of cooperation. Ambassador Akça expressed the readiness of ECO Secretariat to engage in active dialogue with the International Energy Charter and other international partners on potential areas of cooperation for the benefit of its Member States and sustainable development of the Region.
      The Forum deliberated on the issues of transit and cross-border transportation of energy resources, including natural gas, oil products and electricity. The participants discussed the importance of international energy cooperation for achieving global energy security and implementing the SDGs. The Forum had separate sessions focusing on the legal aspects of energy transit, including natural and liquefied gas, oil products and electricity.
      On the margins of the Forum, the ECO Secretary General had two bilateral meetings. On 30 May 2017 Ambassador Akça met with Dr. Urban Rusnak, Secretary General of International Energy Charter (IEC) where he briefed his counterpart on ECO’s energy profile, particularly the ongoing initiative of establishment of ECO Regional Electricity Market (ECO-REM) and expressed appreciation to IEC for its interest to support the initiative. Ambassador Akça noted the importance for the early launching of the envisaged REM, having been guided by success stories in other regions. ECO Secretary General also informed on the proposed drafting of the next "ECO Plan of Action for Energy/Petroleum Cooperation", which is expected to be finalized and approved by the upcoming 4th ECO Ministerial Meeting on Energy to be held in Turkey in 2017.
      Dr. Urban Rusnak expressed readiness to consider IEC’s engagement in establishment of ECO-REM and proposed either to support ECO in hiring international consultant for preparation of the Project’s Feasibility Study, or to establish a consortium for joint coordination of this project based on the previous IEC experiences. In this vein, Dr. Urban Rusnak also suggested to reflect the role of ECO-IEC cooperation in the envisaged "ECO Plan of Action for Energy/Petroleum Cooperation".
      Both sides agreed to continue coordination on optimal framework for cooperation, including continuation of previous practice on organizing joint ECO-IEC events, as well as mutual participation in the relevant events. ECO Secretary General invited IEC to participate in its capacity as Observer in the 4th ECO Ministerial Meeting on Energy/Petroleum to be held in Turkey in 2017. Dr. Urban Rusnak also invited ECO Secretariat to participate in the 28th Meeting of the Energy Charter Conference, to be held on 28-29 November 2017 in Ashgabat. Both Secretaries General expressed their readiness to contribute to the upcoming events.
      On 30 May 2017 Ambassador Akça also met with Mr. Maksat Babayev, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, the current Chairman of the Energy Charter Conference. ECO Secretary General congratulated Mr. Babayev on his new appointment as the Chairman of the Energy Charter Conference and thanked for Turkmenistan's consistent support to ECO activities. ECO Secretary General briefed his counterpart about ECO and its ongoing activities in the field of energy and trade sectors. In this regard, he proposed Turkmenistan to be actively involved in preparation of the new "ECO Plan of Action for Energy/Petroleum Cooperation" and participate in the ECO Ministerial Meeting on Energy/Petroleum as well as in other energy-related events. ECO Secretary General also invited Turkmenistan to explore the possibility of joining the ECO initiative on establishment of ECO-REM. He noted that given its huge energy potential, Turkmenistan’s involvement could add value to advancement of the initiative in future. Ambassador Akça also requested Turkmenistan to consider the possibility of becoming a member of the ECO Trade & Development Bank (ECO-TDB), while this step would enable Turkmenistan to take advantage of the loans and assistance offered by this Bank.
      Mr. Babayev thanked ECO Secretariat and his team for participation in the Forum under the Chairmanship of Turkmenistan and promised to explore the above proposals and inform the Secretariat accordingly.
      Training Programme on the role of gas, oil and electricity
      Following the Forum, International Energy Charter (IEC) hosted the 10th Executive Training Programme on the role of natural gas, oil and electricity in Eurasian energy security on 1-2 June 2017 in the International Oil and Gas University of Ashgabat. ECO Secretariat's relevant staff also participated in this Training Programme on the invitation of IEC, and discussed the possibility of organizing similar programme for ECO Member States.
      Training Programme focused on the topics such as the role of gas in structural changes in the global energy markets, conventional and unconventional oil supplies for global markets, key supply sources and possibilities for diversification, optimization of distribution systems, diversification of gas transportation routes as key elements of gas strategy, key role of gas transit in providing international energy security, and making investments sustainable and commercially viable.
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