Ashgabat, 29 September 2014 (nCa) — The foreign ministers of the Caspian littoral states met in Astrakhan on Sunday (28 Sep) to fine-tune their positions ahead of the fourth heads-of-state summit that is taking place today.
Three important agreements will certainly be signed today:
1. Agreement on conservation and sustainable use of water and biological resources of Caspian
2. Agreement on cooperation in prevention of emergency situations in Caspian and elimination of their consequences
3. Agreement for cooperation in the field of hydrometeorology of Caspian
Although the Russian and other sources mention the three above mentioned agreements, the Iranian ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanayee, posted on his facebook page that ‘four (cooperation) pacts’ will be signed. He also says that five conferences will be held on the sidelines of the summit.
In addition, several multilateral and bilateral documents are also expected to be signed.
President Putin will have bilateral meetings with the presidents of Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan on the sidelines of the summit. He is likely to invite the president of Turkmenistan for an official visit to Russia.
The draft of the convention on the legal status of Caspian is in the final stages of preparation. The signing of the convention may take place during the next summit in Kazakhstan in 2015.
The Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov told ITAR-TASS on Friday (26 Sep) that “Considerable progress has been achieved, which is close to a breakthrough in the drafting of a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. If successful, the works in Astrakhan will open new opportunity for signing the convention at the next summit in Kazakhstan.”
For now, the Caspian states are unanimous in their opinion about the ‘inadmissibility of the military presence in the Caspian Sea of states, which are not from the region.’
Ushakov said that the Caspian heads of state will adopt a joint statement during the summit, defining the principles of interaction between the littoral states, including the joint stand against any foreign military presence in Caspian.
The ITAR-TASS story on Ushakov statement can be seen here: http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/751432
The interdepartmental commission for biological resources of the Caspian will be upgraded to the level of intergovernmental commission. It will also be given much wider powers including the powers to impose ban on sturgeon fishing.
Legal base and political capital
In nearly 18 years of non-stop consultations, the Caspian states have managed to create an impressive legal base and vast reserve of political capital for working together on issues related to this unique body of water:
- The Ad-Hoc Working Group (AWG) for the draft convention on the legal status of Caspian was created in 1996. It has met 38 times so far; the last meeting was in Moscow in August 2014.
- Except for Iran, the other littoral states are apparently in agreement that the national boundary should be 12 nautical miles (point to point from shoreline) and exclusive fishing zone should be 25 nautical miles.
- The framework convention on protection of the marine environment of the Caspian was signed in November 2003.
- The agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan on the delimitation of the northern part of Caspian for implementation of sovereign rights subsoil exploitation was signed in July 1998. The protocol to this agreement was signed in May 2002.
- The agreement between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan on the delimitation of adjoining part of Caspian was signed on 29 November 2001. The protocol was signed on 27 February 2003.
- The agreement on the delimitation of adjacent sections of the Caspian Sea was signed by Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia on 14 May 2003.
- The first Caspian summit was held in Ashgabat in April 2001. The mere fact that all five heads of Caspian were sitting under the same roof was a great breakthrough in itself – it took nearly six years to convince one reluctant ally (Azerbaijan) to share the table with the others. The heads of state agreed to keep meeting in the future.
- The second Caspian summit took place in Tehran in 2007. This triggered the processes that resulted in the unanimity on biological and environmental issues.
- The third Caspian summit, in Baku in 2010, led to the settlement of several issues. One important step forward was the signing of the framework agreement on cooperation in the sphere of security. It also stimulated speeding up the work on the draft convention on the legal status of Caspian.
- The cooperation among the littoral states in the sphere of environment is based on the Tehran Convention, which was signed in November 2003. Four protocols were envisaged to be signed under this convention – three of them have been signed already: 1. the protocol of regional preparedness and response and cooperation in the case of oil pollution; 2. the protocol on the protection of Caspian from the land source pollution; and 3. the protocol on the preservation of biological diversity. The fourth and final protocol (on assessment of environmental impact in a trans-national context) is likely to be signed in 2015.
- The hydro meteorological services of the Caspian states are cooperating already and it will be upgraded with the signing of the agreement today.
- The anti drug services meet regularly for consultations.
- The Caspian port authorities of littoral states are also meeting on regular basis.
Kazakh diplomat speaks on the concept and importance of Caspian legal status
The Astana Times carried recently the interview of Ms. Zulfiya Amanzholova, the Kazakh ambassador-at-large. She gave lucid explanation of the breadth and depth of the concept of the legal status of Caspian and the importance it carries in five major areas of interaction. The link to her interview: http://www.astanatimes.com/2014/09/5179/
The usual American crap
Dr. Bahman Aghai Diba is a US citizen of Iranian origin. He is an expert on international law of sea. For understandable reasons, he uses every opportunity – and creates an opportunity where none exists – to sow discord among the Caspian states.
Recently he wrote two articles:
- ‘Iran and Russia have opposing interests in the Caspian Sea’ carried by the website Iranian.com
- ‘Caspian Sea is not the sea of peace: On the occasion of the 4th Summit of Caspian Leaders’ carried by the website Payvand
Here are the links to both of these articles:
Both of these sites are funded by a mix of US Department of State, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), SOROS etc.
The Azeri Press Agency (APA) reported on 22 September 2014 that Russia is opposed to the division of the Caspian into national sectors. This is, charitably speaking, a misstatement. It is not clear as to what could be the purpose of spreading the untruth by the official news service of Azerbaijan. The only plausible explanation is that it is American voice in Azeri accent.
The APA story can be seen here: http://en.apa.az/xeber_russian_president_s_special_envoy__russi_216690.html
Caspian Youth Summit
The young leaders from Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Iran will discuss issues of entrepreneurship, environment, journalism and intercultural interaction in tandem with the Astrakhan Summit, 28-29 September 2014.
They are expected to agree on the creation of the Association of Youth of the Caspian region.
More information on the Caspian Youth Summit can be found here: http://www.azernews.az/azerbaijan/71254.html
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