Call for international legal mechanism to protect energy pipelines

Sep 30, 1998 02:00 AM

Turkmenistan's foreign minister called for the creation of international legal machinery to protect energy pipelines, like the system that maintains freedom of navigation through maritime straits.
In a speech to the General Assembly, Boris Shikhmuradov said the problem of pipeline routes could "well be compared to that of international sea straits, which was one of the most complex political and diplomatic challenges at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries."
Shikhmuradov, whose country has a direct interest in the oil and natural gas of the Caspian Sea, said there were modern problems relating to the transport of energy resources to distant markets.
"Usually it is landlocked nations that possess such resources and the choice of delivery routes and location of trans-national pipelines has turned into a major problem of our times," he said.
Just as attempts were made to use international sea straits for self-serving national interest, "today we witness more clearly the ever-growing desire of individual countries to acquire levers of political and economic pressure with a view to influencing the development of international pipeline transport infrastructure," he added.
"We advocate the establishment of an international legal mechanism designed to protect the interests of the producers, countries of transit and the consumers," said Shikhmuradov, who is also his country's vice-prime minister.
"It is necessary to fully preclude the possibility of pipelines being used as a means of political pressure and economic dictate."
He said the process of globalisation in economic relations called for the drafting of an international convention governing interstate pipelines and guaranteeing their functioning.
"Turkmenistan regards this matter as one of the most important challenges of the coming 21st Century and is prepared to sponsor such a document in the UN."
On the question of the status of the Caspian Sea, he said uncertainty on this issue hampered rational use of its enormous potential by the littoral states.
He was referring to a problem that was less acute when the states bordering the sea, except for Iran, were all part of the former Soviet Union.
Shikhmuradov said a majority of Caspian Sea states favoured dividing it into different sectors, adding: "Turkmenistan also supports this approach, just as it previously supported the concept of a condominium.
"What is most important to us under either of the 2 approaches is that interests of all littoral states should be fully taken into consideration, that co-operation in the Caspian Sea region should be built on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit."
Shikhmuradov said the Caspian Sea should be a "sea of accord and its wealth should be a common heritage of all littoral states," with each of them having a right to a corresponding national share.

Source: not available
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