Work Underway On Determining Caspian Sea’s Legal Status

Work Underway On Determining Caspian Sea's Legal Status

The Caspian littoral states are keen on determining of a legal status of the Sea, which has remained disputable during the past two decades.

The Working Group on Determining the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea opened its 47th summit in Tehran on October 23. The meeting was attended by special representatives and deputy foreign ministers of the five Caspian littoral states, including Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, addressing the event, described the discussions over the legal status of the Caspian Sea as in the “condition of mutual understanding”.

The minister noted that the parties demonstrated constructive position during the discussions.

“We hope drafting the convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea will be finalized soon,” Mehr news agency quoted Zarif as saying.

He further urged the Caspian-littoral states to protect the marine environment of the Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijan`s deputy foreign minister Khalaf Khalafov, in turn, noted that the negotiations on the determination of the legal status of the Caspian Sea were constructive.

He further added that the decisions adopted during the meeting of the heads of states made contribution to a process of agreement of the main principles of the Convention about the legal status of the Caspian Sea.

Speaking to the event, representatives of Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan noted the importance of discussions over the all issues between the Caspian-littoral states.

The Caspian Sea is the biggest enclosed body of water on Earth, with enormous deposits of oil and gas as well as rich fisheries. It plays an important role in the transport corridors, along with being an important part of the international and regional projects.

The legal status has been remained unsolved during the past two decades, preventing development and exploitation of its disputable oil and gas fields and creating obstacles to the realization of major energy projects.

Negotiations related to the demarcation of the Caspian Sea have been going on for nearly a decade now among the littoral states bordering the Caspian. The major issues cover the access to the mineral resources (oil and gas), access for fishing, access to international waters.

Azerbaijan proposes that the Caspian Sea must be divided into national sectors based on the “median line” principles since it is an international boundary lake.

In turn, Iran and Turkmenistan oppose Azerbaijan’s position considering that the Caspian Sea must be divided into equal parts between the pre-Caspian countries so that each country must have 20% of the sea.

The five Caspian states signed a Framework Convention for Protection of Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea in November 2003.

Russia and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on the delimitation of the northern part of the Caspian seabed in order to exercise sovereign rights for subsoil use in July 1998. The two countries signed a protocol to the agreement in May 2002.

Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on the delimitation of the Caspian seabed and a protocol to it on November 29, 2001, and February 27, 2003, respectively.

Additionally, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Russia signed an agreement on the delimitation of adjacent sections of the Caspian Sea on May 14, 2003.

The summits of the presidents of the Caspian-littoral countries were held in Ashgabat in 2002, in Tehran in 2007, in Baku in 2010 and in Astrakhan in 2014.

The next meeting of the heads of Caspian states is expected to be held in 2017.