Russian Duma OKs Bill On Emergency Situation In Caspian Sea

Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea

The Russian State Duma approved on December 21 a bill “On ratification of the Agreement on cooperation in the field of emergency prevention in the Caspian Sea”.

The deal was inked in September 2014 in the framework of the 4th Summit of Governors of Caspian littoral states in Astrakhan, Russia. All the Caspian littoral states – Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan undersigned the deal.

The document is expected to contribute to disaster risk reduction and minimization of negative consequences of emergency situations of natural and man-made disasters in the Caspian Sea.

The Caspian Sea is the biggest enclosed body of water on Earth, with enormous deposits of oil and gas as well as rich fisheries. The Caspian region is one of the major geopolitical, economic, energy, transport and communication centers on the Eurasian area today.

The deal stipulates forms of cooperation aimed at the prevention of emergency situations in the Caspian Sea region, as well as the procedure for providing mutual assistance in emergency situations.

The agreement does not impose on the parties aid commitments, according to the accompanying documents.

The decision on the provision of assistance by Russia to other Caspian states, or the receipt of their assistance in the framework of the agreement in each case will be made in the prescribed manner by the Russian government on the basis of the agreed proposals of interested federal executive authorities and on the basis of economic opportunities and political expediency, the document says.

Azerbaijan approved the deal in December 2014. Turkmenistan ratified the deal in November 2014, while Kazakhstan ratified it in May 2015.

The legal status of the Caspian Sea has 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 projects.

Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan hold to the principle of dividing into national sectors based on the “median line” principles since it is an international boundary lake, and leaving the sea surface for general use, i.e. they are for demarcation of mineral resources and the Caspian Sea shelf, but against dividing up its waters.

Iran seeks an equal division of the Caspian into 5 even sectors, mainly because most of offshore energy resources are located away from the Iranian coastline. Turkmenistan also demands division of the Sea into equal parts between the pre-Caspian countries so that each country must have 20 percent of the sea.

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