South Korea and Iran become observers to Energy Charter
Meeting in Brussels, the Energy Charter Conference, an inter-governmental organisation promoting energy cooperation
in which 51 European and Asian states participate, approved applications from two non-member countries -- the
Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran -- to be granted formal Observer status within the Energy Charter
process. This will entitle the Governments of Iran and South Korea to attend in future all meetings of the Charter
Conference and its subsidiary working groups, which meet on a regular basis in Brussels, and to access all related
Henning Christophersen, Chairman of the Energy Charter Conference, described the admission of these two new observer states as “an important step towards a targeted expansion of the Energy Charter’s geographical coverage, which our present members believe would be very much in the interests of global energy security”.
South Korea’s involvement, noted Christophersen, follows the admission last year of the People’s Republic
of China as an Observer to the Energy Charter. Australia, Japan, Mongolia and the five states of Central Asia are
already full members of the Charter process.
“With South Korea now formally part of the ‘family’ as well, we increasingly see the focus of the Energy Charter’s work shifting away from purely European issues towards the promotion of energy cooperation throughout Eurasia -- for example, on such matters as future gas exports from Russia and the CIS to the Asia-Pacific region,” commented Christophersen.
Christophersen underlined the significance of Iran’s admission as an Observer state in terms of its integration
into the international economic community. “Iran was previously the only Caspian Sea littoral state not to
participate in the Energy Charter process,” noted Christophersen.
“We believe that closer Iranian involvement in the work of the Charter, which is aimed at promoting market-oriented, non-discriminatory principles as the common basis for international energy relations, can only be good for regional energy cooperation in the Caspian region and for building foreign investor confidence in the Iranian energy sector”.
Iran becomes the seventh OPEC member-state to be granted Observer status at the Energy Charter.
Christophersen expressed the hope that in due time both South Korea and Iran would consider the possibility of becoming full members of the Energy Charter. This would entail accession to the Charter’s legal foundation, the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), which provides a framework of binding rules for cooperation among its Signatory states on energy trade, transit, investments and energy efficiency.