Ministerial Meeting on Caspian Legal Regime
The five Caspian Sea states are to convene in a two-day ministerial meeting in Moscow on Monday to discuss the details of a draft convention on the legal status of the resource-rich sea ahead of the upcoming Caspian summit. Financial Tribune reports in its article Ministerial Meeting on Caspian Legal Regime that foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are meeting for the seventh time to focus on the convention on Caspian Sea's legal status, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on Saturday.
The statement said the top diplomats would discuss "documents regulating cooperation among the five countries in various economic, transport and naval sectors and on curbing contraband smuggling and illegal fishing and ensuring maritime security". Covering a range of regional and international issues, the discussions are meant as a prelude for forthcoming talks between the five leaders at the Fifth Caspian Summit in Kazakhstan, the statement said. The issue of Caspian Sea's legal regime gained importance following the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new independent states. The five have been engaged in talks since the early 90s to create a legal regime to determine their territorial rights.
As yet, negotiations have not produced the desired results. The last ministerial gathering dates back to July 12 in the Kazakh capital Astana and the presidents last convened in the Russian port city of Astrakhan in 2014, where the five signed an agreement to promote the sustainable use of Caspian Sea and protect its marine life. Also, key principles of activities in the Caspian Sea were set out in a joint political declaration that outlined the framework of the convention.
Convention in the Pipeline
"Our experts have received the instruction to step up consultations on the remaining issues to be settled and we have every reason to expect that soon we will have the convention ready for signing and will successfully conclude the work that has been going on for 18 years now," the declaration said. It committed all parties to improving the habitats of sturgeons, developing natural and artificial reproduction of fish resources and curbing illegal fishing.
"The Caspian is an enclosed inland sea and has a fragile ecosystem that is highly vulnerable to external impact. Any industrial accident could have a disastrous effect on the sea's ecosystem and would have consequences too for the lives of all of our countries' people. This is why we put such emphasis on the agreement on five-party cooperation in disaster relief and cleanup," said the document.
It was agreed that the greater part of the sea's area remains in the countries' common use. "This makes it possible to rule out the sort of misunderstandings and tensions in our inter-state relations, which previously could arise over different interpretations of the rules governing the Caspian waters," the declaration said.