Ashgabat, 30 September 2014 (nCa) — The fourth summit of the heads of Caspian states, held in Astrakhan city of Russia on 29 September 2014, delivered fairly beyond expectations.
The presidents of the littoral states – Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Azerbaijan – described it as huge success; the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan portraying it as a ‘breakthrough.’
In addition to squeezing their positions closer together on the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian, the littoral states broke into new areas such as Caspian ring railroad, joint economic forum and other initiatives.
As reported earlier, three major documents were signed. [List of documents given later in this report]
The states signed a 19-point document specifying the principles governing the final draft of the Convention on the legal status.
Press Statements of Caspian Presidents
The press statements of the Caspian presidents neatly summed up the entire outcome of the summit. Especially, the statements of Putin and Berdymuhamedov need to be studied carefully.
We are giving here the entire text of the press statement of Putin (English language version provided by Kremlin.ru), and Berdymuhamedov (text provided by TDH, translation by nCa), and summary of the statements of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Iran (based on Russian text provided by Kremlin.ru, summarized by nCa):
Press Statement of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation
Ladies and gentlemen, First of all, I would like to express my high assessment of the results the Fourth Caspian Summit has produced. One of the biggest achievements was the considerable progress made in preparing the convention on the Caspian’s legal status. This was made possible by the fact that we have now agreed on the key principles for our countries’ activity in the Caspian.
These principles are set out in the political declaration that the five presidents just signed. This declaration will form the future convention’s cornerstone. I cannot claim that all issues have been settled completely, but there are far fewer outstanding matters now.
Our experts have received the instruction to step up consultations on the remaining issues to be settled and we have every reason to expect that we will soon have the convention ready for signing and will thus successfully conclude the work that has been going on for 18 years now.
More specifically, our talks enabled us to reach agreement on clear wording on delimiting marine areas, the seabed, subsoil resources, and rules and principles covering navigation and fishing. The provision that the greater part of the Caspian Sea’s marine area remains in our countries’ common use is very important. This makes it possible to rule out the sorts of misunderstandings and tension in our interstate relations that previously could arise over different interpretations of the rules governing the Caspian waters.
The declaration sets out a fundamental principle for guaranteeing stability and security, namely, that only the Caspian littoral states have the right to have their armed forces present on the Caspian. This was the way the situation developed over history, and we do not seek to change it now. In general, only the five Caspian countries that have sovereign rights over the Caspian Sea and its resources will resolve all matters pertaining to the region.
I think it is important to activate joint efforts on the basis of the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea, which came into force yesterday. This is a framework agreement, and in order to implement its provisions in optimum fashion, we have set the task of drafting without delay protocols on cooperation between our five countries’ border guard and tax services. The Russian Border Guard Service has already taken the initiative of drafting this document and sent it to our colleagues.
We gave the economy particular focus. Russia’s trade with Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan came to $33 billion in 2013. This is an impressive figure but it does not match our countries’ potential. In this respect, we discussed steps to activate our trade ties, increase reciprocal investment flows and launch large-scale projects.
We see joint development of transport infrastructure as very promising, for example. One priority is to develop the North-South corridor that will link countries in western and northwest Europe with southern Asia via Russia, the Caspian basin and Iran. All five littoral states are involved in this project. Its implementation would halve the shipping distance compared to the current route.
Another idea is to build a railway encircling the Caspian. The eastern semi-circle line linking Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran will be completed by the end of this year. In fact, our colleagues informed us earlier that this work is already nearly completed.
Work on the western semi-circle linking Azerbaijan and Iran should be completed in 2016. The aim is to link the main Caspian ports, which will cut freight transport times and costs considerably and thereby help to make our economies more competitive.
Aside from financing, many multilateral projects also require a lot of ongoing organisational support, and so we have agreed to look at setting up a five-party organisation that would be responsible for these matters. Our colleagues put forward various proposals on this subject today, and Russia supports these ideas. This might be a gradual process, taking each required step at a time, but we will certainly move in this direction.
As you know, the Caspian is an enclosed inland sea and has a fragile ecosystem that is highly vulnerable to external impact. Any industrial accident could have a disastrous effect on the sea’s ecosystem and would have consequences too for the lives of all of our countries’ people. This is why we put such emphasis on the agreement on five-party cooperation in disaster relief and clean-up. We agreed to develop this agreement’s provisions by defining the zones of responsibility of each country’s rescue services.
We attach great importance to the signing of the agreement on the Caspian’s marine biological resources. This gives us the legal base for joint implementation of comprehensive measures to protect rare fish species, the sturgeon, for example. I note that a moratorium on catching Caspian sturgeon has been in place in Russia since 2005, and we have no plans to lift it before the fish population stabilises.
Incidentally, a bit later on, the five presidents will take part in a ceremony releasing young sturgeons bred in Astrakhan Region into the Volga. They are a very valuable fish species and the Caspian’s symbol.
Our many years of work on a cooperation agreement in the area of hydrometeorology have reached a successful conclusion. The agreement will enable us to set up a regional system for exchanging information on the state of the Caspian, needed for ensuring safe navigation and oil production.
It is good to see that we are developing new forums for discussing regional cooperation opportunities. A business forum and a Caspian Youth Summit took place with great success on the summit’s sidelines this year.
In conclusion, I want to thank our colleagues for their constructive spirit and the fruitful discussions, and I want to thank the Astrakhan Region authorities and the people of Astrakhan for their consideration and patience with regard to any logistical inconveniences that perhaps arose, and for giving us a friendly atmosphere in which to work together.
Thank you for your attention.
Press Statement of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan
Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] has already pointed out the main issues that we discussed today, and we have decided not to repeat it.
Azerbaijan has close and mutually beneficial relations with all the Caspian states, based on our shared history.
Since the last summit in Baku in 2010, all of us have put in sincere work and the result is the document we signed today. This is because of our common political will.
We have taken a significant step forward today, and now we are ever more confident that we shall resolve all the issues related to our interaction in the Caspian.
At various stages there have been various estimates of reaching the consensus to resolve the fundamental issues. Today’s discussions and decisions make it clear that we can deal with al the issues of our interaction as long as there is the political will.
Bilateral and multilateral cooperation is the key to security in the Caspian. We are pleased that our Caspian neighbours are our good partners, we always support each other, actively cooperate through international organizations.
These positive trends should, and will, continue, because Caspian is our common wealth.
The advantage with all of us is that we are not only friends; we are also economically self-sufficient states. None of us any serious financial problems and we are all investing heavily in the infrastructure.
I support Putin’s stand on the need for further development of the transport infrastructure. As a next step, we need to create coordination among our transport systems, including our port authorities, to facilitate smooth transportation in all directions – North-South and East-West.
The security issues in the Caspian require special attention. I must say that given the level of our mutual cooperation and trust, ensuring own safety means ensuring the safety of the neighbour.
Press Statement of President Hassan Rouhani of Iran
We have managed to make ever greater progress in each succeeding Caspian summit.
At this summit we showed common political will to demonstrate that Caspian is the sea of stability, security and effective development.
In addition to the biological resources, which we have taken care of in this summit, we now need to pay attention to cooperation in transport and tourism.
Caspian is a closed sea and we need to make decisions and rules about this wea only with common consensus. If each state will consider only its own interests, we will come to nothing.
On the other hand, with common consensus, keeping in view our mutual interests and shared concerns, we can advance significantly together.
The littoral states can provide stability and security in the region without the presence extra-regional forces.
Press Statement of President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan
We had a deep and substantive summit today.
Caspian region as a significant source of energy and biological resources is attracting growing world attention. Today’s summit demonstrates the intention of the Caspian countries to solve all the difficult issues.
The next summit will take place in Kazakhstan.
The intense negotiations today led to a breakthrough. We have brought together our positions on key aspects. We are closer now to the main document – the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian.
We have agreed that we will provide our own security, without involving any third countries.
We will also create ring rail and road networks around Caspian, connecting all the littoral states. This is only a partial list of what we discussed.
We received Turkmenistan’s proposal to create a permanent economic forum of Caspian. I propose that we should also create a free trade zone, and perhaps later move further to build some kind of organization that monitors the decisions and will promote all of these questions.
Press Statement of President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov of Turkmenistan
[Russian text by Kremlin.ru, translation by nCa]
Dear representatives of mass media! On behalf of the delegation of Turkmenistan I also express my gratitude to the leadership of the Russian Federation, President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, for the warm welcome, excellent organization and creation of all the conditions for this summit.
As is known, Turkmenistan was the initiator of the five-sided meeting in this format; as already noted, the first summit of the Caspian littoral states was held in Ashgabat in 2002.
As has been shown, the Turkmen Initiative meeting in the five-sided format at the highest level was timely and relevant in historical perspective. Turkmenistan has consistently advocated for the expansion and intensification of partnership on the key aspects of the Caspian problems.
The first is the maintenance and consolidation of peace and security, to prevent and neutralize the risk of military confrontation. And, we are in favour of close coordination between our countries in the fight against illegal activities in the Caspian Sea, including smuggling, poaching, drug trafficking and any manifestations of extremism and terrorism.
Among the main areas of cooperation we see, of course, is intensification of trade and economic ties. And in view of the huge natural resource, energy, industrial, transport and transit, and other potential coastal states, we have every opportunity for a significant increase in economic cooperation.
In this regard, we have proposed to consider the preparation of a draft agreement on trade and economic cooperation among the littoral states, as well as the creation of a permanent Caspian Economic Forum with its meetings alternately in the coastal cities of our states.
During the talks, Turkmenistan gave special attention to the need for enhanced cooperation between the littoral states in the transport sector, to maximize the potential of the Caspian Sea as a major communications hub is of continental importance.
It is about creating a fundamentally new architecture of relationship between the littoral states in the transport sector, as our territories are natural geographic space, linking Asia and Europe, ensuring the effective functioning of transit and transport and trade corridors in the East-West and North-South directions.
In this context, our country considers it appropriate to develop a draft agreement on cooperation in the field of transport in the Caspian Sea. We also believe it is important to create a regional transportation logistics center as one of the elements of such cooperation.
We also believe in the presence of the Caspian of the opportunities for the implementation of the partnership in the energy field, that is, it can be in different formats, for example, in a bilateral or multilateral well. The form and extent of their participation, of course, should be defined by each state. The main principle here should be the mutual respect and consideration of the interests of the partners, and adherence to universally recognized norms of international law. And here any politicization of energy projects in the Caspian Sea, of course, is counterproductive.
This fully applies also to the prospects for the construction of pipelines. Turkmenistan’s position on this issue is very clear, and with the international legal point of view, entirely justified. That is, the construction of such pipelines is the sovereign right of States on whose territory [seabed] they pass, and therefore it can only be done with their consent. It is common practice that is widely used in the implementation of similar projects in different parts of the world, of course, subject to, during the construction, the adherence to the highest international environmental standards.
Dear representatives of mass media! During the summit were signed three documents defining the community in various ways. Turkmenistan, of course, initiated the development of these important agreements such as the Agreement on Cooperation in the field of prevention and liquidation of emergency situations in the Caspian Sea and the Agreement on the Conservation and rational use of water and biological resources of the Caspian Sea. We believe that the joint work on the drafting of documents on cooperation in various fields, of course, must go on.
In this context, our country offers to intensify cooperation in order to develop an agreement on trade and economic cooperation, as well as an agreement on cooperation in the transport sector of the Caspian Sea between the Caspian states. We are convinced that the signing of such documents will provide a powerful additional impetus to the complex interactions of the Caspian states.
In general, our delegation appreciates the outcome of the negotiations today, and we believe that today in Astrakhan was made another very big and important step in strengthening cooperation among the littoral states on the basis of good-neighbourliness, mutual trust and partnership.
In conclusion, I would also like to once again thank our Russian friends and partners for creating the atmosphere of cordiality and hospitality that we experienced today in Astrakhan. Thank you for your attention.
Basic principles for Convention on legal status of Caspian
The Caspian presidents signed a 19-point joint document, enshrining the basic principles that would govern the final text of the Convention on the legal status of Caspian.
The complete text of the document was not available to the media immediately but hare are, presumably, some of the points:
- The national border will be 15 nautical miles from shore and the exclusive fishing zone will extend for another 10 miles (total 25 nautical miles).
- The rules for drawing the lines for national boundary and exclusive fishing zone have probably still to be decided with mutual consensus.
- The waters beyond 25 nautical mile line would be considered free areas, apparently leaving room for negotiation in each new situation.
- The exploitation of the seabed and subsoil resources will be regulated by the principles and norms of the international law, and with agreement between concerned parties.
- There would be maximum freedom and safety of navigation and innocent passage.
- The right to access to Caspian from/to other water bodies will be on the basis of universally recognized norms and principles of the international law.
- Only the littoral states will have the right to maintain military presence in the Caspian.
- The Caspian states will maintain a stable balance of forces, and ensure that the development of their defence capability is within the limits of ‘reasonable efficiency.
- There would be joint efforts to strengthen the regional security and stability.
- Agreement on Hydrometeorology Cooperation in the Caspian Sea
- Agreement on Cooperation on Disaster Warning and Relief in the Caspian Sea
- Agreement on Preservation and Rational Use of Caspian Sea Marine Biological Resources
- During the summit, the Caspian presidents went for a walk along the Volga embankment and released young sturgeon into the river. The five leaders pressed together a symbolic button that released the sturgeons from a pool into the Volga. The ceremony was held to demonstrate the importance the Caspian states’ leaders place on preserving the sea’s biological resources.
- During their walk along the embankment, the Caspian presidents spoke with participants in the Caspian Youth Summit, which took place earlier.
- Putin invited the Caspian presidents to jointly conduct in 2016 a full scale joint exercise of emergency response services.
- Russia has already started developing protocols on the interaction of border services and tax services of the Caspian states.
- As the Caspian summit took place in Astrakhan, more than 250 marines from the Caspian Flotilla of Russia started emergency parachute-jumping drills, with actions covering the probable emergency situations in the air and landing on different surfaces.
According to some reports, the president of Kazakhstan suggested that the next summit should be held in 2016.
Some media reports suggest that Caspian will be held from now on every alternate year.
Meeting between President Berdymuhamedov and President Putin
Here is the transcript of the meeting between the presidents of Turkmenistan and Russia on the sidelines of the Caspian Summit in Astrakhan on 29 September 2014.
[This English language version provided by Kremlin.ru]
Vladimir Putin had a meeting with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The Presidents of Russia and Turkmenistan discussed the outcomes of the Fourth Caspian Summit and the state of bilateral trade and economic relations and humanitarian ties.
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr President, friends, colleagues, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you on the sidelines of the Caspian Five in this restricted format to discuss our bilateral relations. Russia and Turkmenistan have been bound by relations of friendship and cooperation over the course of many years and in a wide range of areas.
I want to thank you for your significant contributions to the results of the Caspian Summit. I know that your colleagues, with your direct personal participation, made a serious input into preparing the final documents. Thank you very much.
I hope to see you in Russia, in Moscow or any part of the Russian Federation, at a time that is convenient for you. I hope that we will agree on this today as well.
PRESIDENT OF TURKMENISTAN GURBANGULY BERDYMUHAMEDOV: Thank you, Mr President, for this opportunity to meet on the sidelines of the summit of Caspian states.
Indeed, we had a very good summit today and good agreements were signed which, I think, will benefit our states and peoples. I think we should continue at this same rate because, as you know, the current global geopolitical situation can change very quickly, and the Caspian Sea is becoming a kind of epicentre, particularly in the Eurasian space.
We have very good reserves that we could use based on the results of today’s meetings and in accordance with the signed documents.
If we are to talk about our bilateral issues, I can say with confidence that they have always been, are and will be developing upward.
Our trade and economic situation is developing well – its growth trends are good. Our humanitarian sector is working well too, with issues of education, science and especially applied research progressing well.
Our cultural ties are developing very nicely as well; we have many new initiatives to discuss: the Turkmen-Russian schools the Pushkin Turkmen-Russian Theatre, and there are many similar examples. What’s most important is that our interstate commission, which is coordinating everything, is furthering all of this.
So please allow me to once again thank you for today’s meeting, to wish you all the best and success in your government work. And all my best wishes to the great nation of Russia. Thank you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you.
Speech of President Vladimir Putin at expanded format meeting of Caspian heads of state summit
Colleagues, Summits between the Caspian countries’ leaders usually take place in a friendly and business-like spirit characterised by the firm determination to achieve concrete results on the basis of trust, mutual understanding and consideration of each other’s interests.
This was the spirit in which we exchanged views just before at the restricted format meeting. Most importantly, we agreed on the political declaration that for the first time sets out the main principles for our five-way cooperation in the Caspian. These agreements are in the long-term interests of all countries taking part. I am grateful to our partners for their willingness and ability to work out needed and mutually acceptable compromise solutions.
Ahead, we have to complete preparation of the convention on the Caspian’s legal status. I am sure that it is within our ability to reach agreement on all outstanding matters and adopt the convention at the next summit.
As we organise our work, we need to put our partnership’s potential to more effective use. It is in our interests to launch big joint projects, encourage reciprocal investment, create new jobs and strengthen the contacts between our peoples. I am sure that through our combined efforts we can transform our region into a fast-growing market of nearly 250 million people.
The energy sector is an important area for cooperation. The Caspian countries are world leaders in oil and gas production. We could work more closely together on the global hydrocarbons market, including on issues such as price formation and guaranteeing global and regional energy security.
We should make more active use of our natural competitive advantages, above all our countries’ advantageous geographical location. Given that freight transport in the Caspian region is mostly by sea, our main task is to develop a modern logistics infrastructure and make more effective use of transport links so as to ensure steady development and economic growth in our countries.
At the same time, we must do everything within our power to make sure that development of the region’s countries does not harm the environment. This kind of situation would be unacceptable in the Caspian Sea. The intergovernmental agreement on rational use of biological resources that we are signing today aims to protect and preserve the Caspian’s ecosystem.
Another topical issue is that of preserving populations of valuable fish species. The five-state commission set up specially for this purpose plays a key role in this work and has had its status raised from inter-agency to intergovernmental body. Its duties include coordinating our countries’ policy on joint use of biological resources, including regulating the fishing industry, and it has the power to impose temporary bans on fishing if need be.
Our common priorities include expanding cooperation on monitoring and forecasting weather, climate and the state of the Caspian Sea. We think that the signing of the five-state agreement on cooperation in hydrometeorology will make shipping safer and more predictable and help us to develop offshore hydrocarbon reserves.
Disaster warning and relief is another important part of our work and we will sign an agreement in this area today too. As a first step, we propose holding full-scale five-party training exercises in 2016 for our rapid response services. This will enable us to test in practice the warning procedures and rescue services’ coordination.
We must continue improving the legal base and developing common norms and standards for activity on the Caspian. We need to ratify in swift time the protocols on responding to oil spills, protecting the Caspian Sea from pollution and preserving biological diversity, which were adopted in order to implement in concrete form the Tehran Convention on Protecting the Marine Environment of 2003.
Friends, the Caspian’s prosperity and future are our shared responsibility and we must do everything we can to build up stability and security in the region and speed up economic development for all the Caspian countries.
Thank you for your attention.
Speech of President Berdymuhamedov at IV Caspian Summit
The following is the unofficial, slightly paraphrased translation of the complete text of the speech of President Berdymuhamedov at the IV Caspian Summit at Astrakhan (Russia) on 29 September 2014. [Based on the Russian text provided by TDH, the official news agency of Turkmenistan]:
Distinguished Heads of State! Dear members of the delegations, First of all, let me express my gratitude to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for the excellent organization of the Astrakhan Summit and for creating an atmosphere of cooperation; I wish you every success. I am confident that our work in the framework of the Summit will contribute to constructive consideration of the Caspian problems and improve the efficiency of working together to create the legal framework of the five-sided cooperation in the Caspian Sea.
In this connection I would like to emphasize that the meeting at the highest political level is a major factor in the revitalization of the negotiation process on the Caspian Sea. As you know, the first Caspian summit was held in 2002 in Ashgabat. It is our deep conviction that the [first] Ashgabat meeting of Caspian states became the impetus for identifying the main areas of cooperation between littoral states, to develop mutually acceptable approaches to the solution of many issues related to the interaction of the Caspian Sea.
The results formed the basis for the success of the Caspian summit in Tehran in 2007 and in Baku in 2010. The results of these three forums have created a solid foundation for the formation of a new quality of relations in the Caspian Sea. Since the launch of the Caspian summits at the head of state level, the countries have carried out joint activities in almost all the major issues of partnership in the Caspian Sea. The defining characteristic of this process has been and remains an understanding of the fact that a multilateral dialogue on the topic of the Caspian should be conducted with full regard for the interests of all of its members, based on the principles of equality and mutual respect. Only then can we consistently move towards common solutions, and reach concrete results and agreements.
Turkmenistan has always proceeded from the fact that the five-way interaction in the Caspian Sea is the unifying factor, which reflects the commitment of our countries to the peace, harmony and effective international cooperation. Therefore, any questions, even the most complex, should be discussed in an atmosphere of good neighbourly relations and close partnerships.
Of course, to move forward, we need to establish a modern legal framework of interstate relations in the Caspian Sea. In this context I would like to emphasize that in a positive way we are working on a draft convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. To date, we have achieved a significant convergence of positions on most of the provisions of this important document. It is our common desire and strong commitment to determine the meaning of the document to make the Caspian Sea a zone of peace, an important component of international strategic stability and security, and an example of solving all the issues exclusively by political and diplomatic means, on the basis of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states. [Some provisions of the] Draft convention still need to be agree upon but, I think, through our consolidated common efforts, we will develop these appropriately for mutually acceptable solutions.
To this end, together with the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group [on Convention], I consider it expedient to strengthen the format of meetings and consultations at the level of foreign ministers of the Caspian states. The basic principles of life in the Caspian Sea, which are one of the key elements of the future legal status, formed the basis of statements of Astrakhan summit of Caspian states. The signing of this important document will help to consolidate the results achieved in the formation of modern and viable rules of conduct in the Caspian Sea.
Dear members! Turkmenistan attaches utmost importance to cooperation in the Caspian Sea in different spheres. As you know, at the Baku summit in 2010 were actively discussed issues related to the conservation measures in water and biological resources of the Caspian Sea. Realizing the urgency of this problem, our country has proposed the development of an Agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological resources of the Caspian Sea.
We are convinced that the solution of the conservation of bio-resources should be carried out on a systematic basis, through new, clearly defined international legal mechanisms that would, inter alia, reflect the restrictive measures to harvest the most valuable fish species. Ordering relations in this area, forming an effective framework for cooperation meets the generally accepted international practice and will contribute to the creation of a coordinating body under the Agreement – Commission on aquatic biological resources of the Caspian Sea.
Turkmenistan has initiated and developed a draft of another important document – the Agreement on cooperation in the field of prevention and liquidation of emergency situations in the Caspian Sea. Caspian is a zone of increased potential risks of natural and manmade threat to the ecological system of the sea. Therefore, the creation of effective multilateral mechanisms of cooperation to prevent and neutralize emergency situations is of paramount importance.
I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the heads of the Caspian states, and their governments for support of Turkmenistan’s initiatives on the development of these Agreements and finalizing them for signature during the Astrakhan Summit.
As is known, Turkmenistan is currently the chair of the Coordinating Committee on Hydrometeorology and Pollution Monitoring of the Caspian Sea (CASPCOM). We take a very responsible attitude to this mission, and we believe that working together through CASPCOM is an important part of our overall effort to preserve the unique natural heritage of the Caspian Sea. In this context, I want to note that our countries have been able to finalize the draft agreement on cooperation in the field of hydrometeorology of the Caspian Sea. I am convinced of the relevance of the signing of this document to create the systemic focus of the Caspian states in this area.
Dear members! Among the main areas of cooperation between the Caspian states, we see the intensification of trade and economic ties. There is solid mutual trade between our countries. However, given the huge natural resource, energy, industrial, transportation and transit, and other potential of the coastal states, with all the confidence we can say that we have every opportunity to significantly increase economic interaction and raise the output to a new level.
Naturally, within the system of relations in the economic sphere it is possible to build appropriate legal and institutional frameworks. In this regard, I suggest preparation of a draft agreement on trade and economic cooperation among the littoral states.
I am sure that such a multilateral instrument will give new impetus to the expansion and strengthening of our economic relations. Their effectiveness will be largely associated with the regular contacts between governments and business communities of our countries. So, I am submitting a proposal to establish a permanent Caspian Economic Forum to conduct its meetings alternately in the coastal cities of our states.
Today, objectively, the Caspian basin plays a major role as the transport hub on the Eurasian continent. This is the strategic direction that offers the prospect of substantially increased trade and economic relations both between the littoral countries, and in terms of their access to world markets. It is about creating a fundamentally new architecture of relations between Caspian states in the transport sector.
Our countries are a natural geographic bridge, linking Asia with Europe, ensuring the effective functioning of transit and transport and trade corridors in the “East-West” and “North-South” directions. In this regard, I think that our States in the near future should make every effort to create a new transport routes between the Caspian, Black and Baltic Seas. Along with this, in our opinion, we should seriously work on the issues of the formation of the transport network connecting the Caspian region to the Middle East and the Mediterranean, South and South-East Asia. The practical implementation of these ideas in the first place depends on a solid legal framework governing the relations in the transport sector.
Taking this into account and considering the importance of mutual integration of the transport systems of the Caspian countries, to ensure coordination of multimodal transport at the regional and global levels, we consider it appropriate to develop an agreement on cooperation in the field of transport in the Caspian Sea. We also believe it is important to create the Caspian regional transport and logistics center as one of the elements of the practical implementation of such cooperation.
Distinguished Heads of State! The Caspian Basin is rapidly emerging as one of the world’s largest centers of production and transportation of hydrocarbons. This is an objective reality, which requires adequate perception. Turkmenistan is convinced that cooperation between the Caspian states in the energy sector is a highly promising matter, able to give a strong impetus to regional and international development and investment activity, and a positive influence on the geopolitical situation in this part of the globe.
We assume that the Caspian interests of our states in the energy sector have deep-seated contradictions.
And I would like to emphasize that we are against giving any unresolved issues any political overtones. This fully applies to the prospects of laying a pipeline under the Caspian Sea. In this regard, it is necessary to strictly adhere to the universally recognized norms of international law, the principles of mutual respect and interests of partners.
Turkmenistan is firmly convinced that the construction of such pipelines is the sovereign right of States [through whose Caspian bed such pipelines pass], and therefore can only be done with their consent.
Of course, this should be subject to the highest international environmental standards. Ensuring long-term stability and security is essential to our successful cooperation in the Caspian Sea, the key to solve all existing problems.
Today, the process of multilateral cooperation of the Caspian states, and convergence on certain issues has become systemic.
In this regard, I would like to express special thanks to the President of the Azerbaijan Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation for their great personal contribution to the development of good neighborly relations and partnership in the Caspian Sea, for constructivism and respectful.
Also thanks to the experts of all five states the following for their professional work in preparing the documents of the Summit.
I take this opportunity to thank the management of the Astrakhan region for their hospitality and kindness, and wish this land, which is a long-standing economic partner of Turkmenistan, prosperity and well-being. [Translation by nCa]
Communiqué of the Fourth Summit of the Caspian
[Russian text from Kremlin.ru; this unofficial, slightly paraphrased translation by nCa]
The fourth Caspian summit was held in Astrakhan on 29 September 2014, attended by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, and President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov.
In the traditional atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding, the parties discussed a wide range of issues of five-sided cooperation in the Caspian region, and exchanged views on topical international issues.
Similar approaches to the key issues of the Caspian agenda, including the development of meeting modern realities of the legal status of the Caspian Sea, were reflected in the statement signed by the presidents. The Principles enshrined in it will be taken into account when negotiating the text of the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea.
Other issues related to the legal status of the Caspian Sea were also consdiered, on which work will be continued in the framework of the relevant ad hoc working group at the level of deputy foreign ministers of the Caspian states.
The Heads of State welcomed the progress made in improving the legal framework of five-sided cooperation in the Caspian Sea and outlined the main priorities for the development of cooperation between littoral states.
The Presidents welcomed the entry into force of the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea, signed in Baku on 18 November 2010, confirmed the need to continue joint efforts to counter the current security challenges and threats in the Caspian Sea region, paying particular attention to cooperation in the fight against illegal drug trafficking and poaching. The Presidents instructed the competent authorities to agree on protocols to the Agreement.
In order to strengthen good-neighbourly friendship, peace, security and mutual trust between the states of the Caspian coast, the Presidents discussed issues in the field of military activities in the Caspian Sea region.
The signing during the Astrakhan Summit of Agreement on the conservation and rational use of marine biological resources of the Caspian Sea was seen with deep satisfaction. The establishment of the Commission for the Conservation, and sustainable use of marine biological resources of the Caspian Sea and the joint management of their reserves, granting it broad powers creates an efficient five-sided mechanism for regulating fisheries issues in the Caspian Sea, including fishing of valuable fish species. The Coastal states agreed that the mechanism for regulating commercial fishing of sturgeon species will contribute to the preservation of their unique population.
The Cooperation Agreement, signed during the summit, in the field of prevention and liquidation of emergency situations in the Caspian Sea will promote close collaboration between the competent authorities on the basis of the agreements reached in the light of international experience, including the establishment of an effective mechanism to respond to emergencies at sea.
The Agreement on cooperation in the field of hydrometeorology of the Caspian Sea, signed during the summit, is aimed at the creation and development of an integrated regional system of receiving and exchanging information about the status of the Caspian Sea in order to ensure safety of life and sustainable development of economic activities at sea.
To preserve the fragile environment of the Caspian Sea meets the Protocol Concerning Regional Preparedness, Response and Co-operation in the event of incidents of oil pollution, 12 August 2011 (Aktau), Protocol for the Protection of the Caspian Sea against pollution from land-based sources and land-based activity of 12 December 2012 (Moscow) and the Protocol on Biological Diversity 30 May 2014 (Ashgabat) to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea November 4, 2003 (Tehran Convention). The Presidents stress that the Convention is an effective five-sided mechanism to promote sustainable development in the region. There is the need of a speedy completion of the ratification of the adopted protocols and agreeing on the assessment of the environmental impact in a trans-boundary context.
The Presidents welcomed the decision taken on 30 May 2014 in Ashgabat at the Fifth Session of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Tehran Convention, to host the Secretariat of the Convention on the territory of the Caspian littoral states on the basis of four-year rotation, in alphabetical order, and in this regard, with the launch of the Secretariat in Baku in January 2015.
The issues of cooperation of coastal states in trade, economic, industrial and energy sectors were discussed thoroughly. The presidents noted the significant potential of capacity in a variety of formats. The relevant departments have been instructed to prepare proposals for projects of mutual interest.
Further modernization and improvement of investment attractiveness of the region of the Caspian Sea is intended to contribute to the deepening of cooperation between the Caspian states in all modes of transport, including the formation of international transport corridors, increasing interaction between the Caspian ports and implementation of joint infrastructure projects. The Presidents called for the continuation of regular consultations Caspian states on transport.
The Presidents noted the need to strengthen in every way the existing traditional links in the Caspian Sea through the development of mutually beneficial cooperation between the concerned Caspian states, joint tourism, sports and youth projects, as well as increasing contacts between the academic and research centers.
The Presidents expressed gratitude to the Russian Federation for the excellent organization of the Astrakhan summit and hospitality.
The Fifth Caspian Summit will be held at an agreed time in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Astrakhan, September 29, 2014
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