At a meeting in Moscow of the Caspian littoral states’ foreign ministers of Azerbaijan - Elmar Mammadyarov, Iran - Javad Zarif, Kazakhstan - Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Russia - Sergey Lavrov and Turkmenistan - Rashid Meredov took part in the meeting, the parties considered a number of important issues on the Caspian agenda, including those relating to the delineation of the seabed and the depths of the Caspian Sea, the maritime regime in the territorial and in closed waters, the laying of pipelines along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, free access to the seas and the world's ocean, and others.
The main outcome of the meeting is coordination of all the key items on the draft Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea.
In the near future, experts will carry out technical work on the preparation of the draft Convention for signing during the upcoming Caspian states’ summit in Kazakhstan in 2018.
Settlement of the Caspian Sea legal status is strategically important in the context of ensuring political stability and economic development of the Caspian region.
Work on the Convention has been conducted for more than 20 years. The draft document establishes the fundamental principles of the parties’ activities in the Caspian Sea, delineation of the marine area, the national seabed sectors, military cooperation, economic activities related to the development of biological resources, the seabed and subsoil, navigation, environmental protection, marine scientific research and other areas.
Work is underway on draft protocols to the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Security in the Caspian Sea of 2010. To date, the parties have drafted protocols on combating poaching, ensuring safety of navigation, combating terrorism, organized crime and illicit drug trafficking.
For environmental safety of the Caspian region, the parties are developing draft protocols to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, including the Protocol on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context.
The efforts of all the Caspian states are aimed at achieving peace, security, stability and sustainable economic, environmental, cultural and humanitarian development and cooperation in the Caspian region.
"The head of our state, Nursultan Nazarbayev, maintains a high profile on the cooperation of the Caspian littoral states. One of the major priorities he set is to reach accords on the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. It was the issue the heads of foreign ministries were addressing today. The meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian littoral states discussed a wide range of issues related to the Caspian Sea. And, to a significant extent, we have completed the assignments entrusted to us by the heads of the Caspian region states," Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov said.
"We consider the Caspian Sea as a region with a fair opportunity to establish a zone of peace, security and sustainable socio-economic, environmental, cultural and humanitarian development. And, as a result of the talks held in Moscow today, we agreed on the Draft Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea," he underlined.
The Minister said that work on the legal status of the Caspian Sea has been carried out for two decades. "The agreement reached in Moscow between the foreign ministers can be considered as a breakthrough. We will report to the heads of our states on the accords we have reached on the Draft Convention. This document will provide the basis for the multilateral cooperation we intend to strengthen and expand in the near future. The accords reached in Moscow open the way to the Summit of the Caspian states, which will be organized in Kazakhstan," he added.
As Kairat Abdrakhmanov noted, the issues that sparked lively discussions and interest of the sides included the freedom of navigation, the laying of pipelines under the Caspian Sea, the access to the world's oceans from the Caspian Sea, as well as a number of other pressing issues related to the environmental safety.
He also pointed out that the Caspian states are now actively working on agreements and protocols to international conventions that refer, for instance, to combating organized crime, smuggling, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, and the fight against terrorism. These and other problems with a wider range of issues, according to the Kazakh Foreign Minister, will be reflected in the results of the summit that is planned to be organized in Kazakhstan.
"Such key issue as the methodology for establishing the baselines has not been included into the Convention so far. We agreed with our Caspian region colleagues to map out a new agreement on that issue, and our experts will immediately begin setting out the methodology for the baselines," Kairat Abdrakhmanov noted.
"In general, the results of the meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian states give grounds and opportunities for the Caspian region to be a zone of peace, security, stability, and sustainable socio-economic, ecological, and cultural and humanitarian development in the near future," the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan summed up.