Caspian coastal states still thrashing out legal status
Apr 26. News.Az
Representatives of the five Caspian littoral states are meeting in Baku to discuss the legal status of the sea and other cooperation issues.
Kazakhstan’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Kairat Sarybay, told the working group that the negotiating process had to be pushed forward in all areas, Interfax-Azerbaijan said.
“I am convinced that a rapid resolution of the objectives set by the heads of state and ensuring the comprehensive work of the littoral states on the sea will allow us to reach our goal of this long, difficult but important negotiating process – the signing of a a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea,” he said. He recalled the desire expressed at the Baku summit for the work to be completed by the next meeting of the heads of state.
“Our delegation would like to concentrate today on reviewing issues concerning the delimitation of the waters of the Caspian Sea and the agreement of the size and regimes of the relevant maritime areas,” he said.
On the introduction by the littoral states of a moratorium on sturgeon fishing, Sarybay recalled that a special meeting of delegations of the littoral states was held in mid-February in Astana to discuss the issue. “The decisions taken at this meeting should promote the rapid legal drafting of an initiative to ban the industrial fishing of Caspian sturgeon.”
The head of the Kazakh delegation expressed his gratitude to the Russian side for their expressed desire to draw up a draft agreement on a moratorium and to prepare a five-party meeting on the issue. He also put forward an initiative for five-party talks on the moratorium under the aegis of the Foreign Ministry as had been done during during work on the Caspian security agreement.
“Second, our views on future areas of cooperation are no less important: the conclusion and signing of an agreement on the rational use, maintenance and production of maritime biological resources,” the Kazakh delegate said. He also noted the importance of implementing the agreement on Caspian security cooperation, especially work on the relevant interdepartmental protocols to the agreement. He said that Kazakhstan had already submitted two draft protocols on cooperation of the border services and internal affairs bodies.
“I would also like to call on all partners to step up the negotiating process as much as possible on all Caspian topics and not to allow long breaks between our meetings,” Sarybay said.
He said that Kazakhstan was ready to organize the next sitting of the Caspian working group in the first half of July in Astana.
The legal status of the Caspian Sea is still based on two agreements signed between Iran and the Soviet Union in 1921 and 1940, which do not take account of the three new littoral states that emerged after the collapse of the USSR – Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia reached agreement in 2003 on the division of adjacent sectors of the Caspian shelf. Azerbaijan has yet to reach agreement with Turkmenistan and with Iran on their Caspian boundaries. The talks are made more difficult by the presence of oil and gas fields in the boundary areas.
Talks concern both the waters of the Caspian Sea, containing valuable fish such as the caviar-producing sturgeon, and the seabed which holds reserves of oil and gas.