During the fifth summit of the Caspian states, the leaders of the Five coastal countries – Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran – signed the long-awaited Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea.
This document had been preparing for 22 years. It establishes clear rules for the collective use of the Caspian Sea. The presidents of the Caspian five themselves call it not only the “Constitution” of the Caspian sea, the world’s largest body of water that has no access to the world ocean. Initially, the Tehran Convention, which regulated all the activities of coastal countries, was considered a special document. Then, with subsequent meetings at the level of heads of state, foreign affairs agencies, as well as meetings of the Joint Working Group, additional documents were adopted that gave impetus to the negotiation process. But there was still no concrete outcome document. And he really was all needed.
“The Convention is a kind of Constitution of the Caspian Sea. It is designed to resolve the whole range of issues related to the rights and obligations of the coastal countries, as well as to become a guarantor of security, stability and prosperity of the region as a whole”, such an explanation to the signed document on in historic day was given by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.» One of those who all these years sought to solve the painful “Caspian” issue painlessly for each of the parties, wishing to turn the Caspian into a zone of peace, good-neighbourliness and friendship.
Speaking at the plenary meeting of the Caspian summit in Aktau, the head of Kazakhstan stressed the important geopolitical significance of the Caspian Sea because of its favorable location on the world map. This region, noted the President, has a unique history and diverse culture, there are huge human resources and the richest natural reserves. The total population of the five Caspian States is about 240 million people. All this has led to the need to develop joint solutions to the whole range of issues related to the Caspian.
As a result, the Convention has become the main comprehensive document regulating the rights and obligations of the parties in relation to the Caspian Sea, including its waters, the bottom, subsoil, natural resources and airspace. Particular attention in drafting the document the parties paid to the issues of ensuring security, warnings and preventing the consequences of emergencies and military activities of the Caspian states.
The most important principles of the activities of the member countries of the Convention are, as mentioned earlier, the transformation of the Caspian Sea into a zone of peace, good-neighborliness and friendship, its peaceful use, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the absence of armed forces on the Caspian Sea that do not belong to the parties. Experts say, it is very important that the document clearly regulates the issues of necessary delineations, modes of navigation and fishing, fixes the principles of military-political interaction of the participating countries.
The essence of the Convention is not just to share the sea. Its exact boundaries have yet to draw out and fixed. It was much more important to agree on the use of water space and the bottom so that it would fit all the countries of the “five”. As a result, we chose an option that suits all parties.
“We have established territorial waters with a width of 15 nautical miles, and their external borders acquire the status of state. To the territorial waters adjoin ten-mile fishing zones, where each state has exclusive rights for fishing. Outside the fishing zones, the total water area is preserved. The freedom of navigation for ships under the flags of coastal countries will operate outside the Maritime state borders. An agreement on freedom of transit to other seas and oceans is important. Each state exercises sovereign rights to subsoil use within the boundaries of its bottom sector. At the same time, it is possible to lay trunk pipelines and cables on the seabed with the condition of compliance with environmental requirements”, – said the head of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, speaking at a press conference on the results of the 5th summit of the Caspian States.
The President of Kazakhstan stressed that the observance of these principles is designed to promote the development of transport infrastructure of coastal States, increase the transit potential of the Caspian region, as well as the preservation of the ecological system and the unique population of biological resources of the Caspian sea.
And here it is necessary to tell separately about this point of the adopted new Constitution of the Caspian sea-a question of protection of biodiversity of the sea. Poaching in this region is a problem of all five States. If earlier sturgeon in the Caspian sea was more than 80% of the total world volume, today, because of the criminally large fish catch, as well as pollution of the natural environment by oil products, the populations of these valuable fish species have fallen hard. With the signing of the Convention, the preservation of the flora and fauna of the Caspian Sea and the solution of environmental problems are given special attention and place. “As a result, all activities in the Caspian will be more regulated through the prism of environmental policy. The environmental aspect will limit activities in many sectors, primarily in extractive industries and transport, and also affect the fishing regime, “analysts note.
Another significant clause of the agreement is an agreement on cooperation in the field of combating terrorism. Experts call the document timely, because it is known that the Caspian Sea is located near the centers of terrorist activity (Syria, Afghanistan), and here, under the impact of crime, both the transportation routes for energy resources passing through the Caspian region and the offshore oil and gas production platforms themselves can fall. In this case, this can lead to severe consequences for all.
In General, following the meeting, the leaders of the five countries signed seven documents, including the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, as well as agreements on trade and economic partnership, cooperation in the field of transport, on the prevention of incidents in the Caspian Sea, and the interaction of border agencies . Most importantly, a legal framework has been established in many areas for a long period. Now the countries of the “five” will concentrate more on the ecological aspects of development and preservation of bioequilibrium in the region, without forgetting, however, about economic interests.