Ramazan Abdulatipov: "We are all friends and companions in Caspian region"
Special Representative of the Russian president for humanitarian and economic cooperation with the Caspian countries, former head of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipov told Vestnik Kavkaza about the significance of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, adopted on August 12, for the Russian regions and their cooperation with neighbors in the Caspian.
- Ramazan Gadzhimuradovich, how will the Convention on the status of the Caspian Sea change lives of Russia's Caspian littoral regions?
- First of all, the Convention worked out, specified and fixed national interests, legal norms and mutual relations - and it will be determined by the Russian federal authorities what Dagestan, Kalmykia and Astrakhan region will get. For the time being, unfortunately, the importance of the Russian Federation's subjects is insignificant, all our Caspian regions are not sufficiently connected to cooperation with the Caspian states. The Astrakhan region is more or less engaged in this direction, for many years its governor Alexander Zhilkin has established good contacts with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran. When I met with Vladimir Putin and we discussed the Caspian Sea, I noted that very little effort is made by the federal authorities for the development, preservation and protection of the Caspian, which at the same time do not allow the Caspian regions to do this work.
For example, there is a sea trading port in Dagestan with a workload of 25-27%, it is owned by the Russian Ministry of Transport, but the republic's development interests are not taken into account in this case. There is also the Dagestan fishing port next to, it is owned by the fisheries agency. A large fish processing enterprise worked there in Soviet times, they produced more than 45 million cans of sprat in tomato sauce per year - and now nobody knows what happened to its property, including ships. Moscow is far away from there, and on the site no one has any rights, therefore, as a rule, the weakest enterprises in the region are enterprises that are in federal property. Now, I think, the federal authorities should clarify, demark the powers with the regional authorities on a number of areas of economic development of the Caspian regions, ecology and cooperation with the Caspian states, giving more powers to the local authorities. While we, together with presidential aide Igor Levitin and the leaders of the Caspian regions, were preparing to submit this issue to the presidium of the State Council, we have even addressed this issues more commonly: not just the Caspian region, but the Volga-Caspian or Volga-Caucasian region. The fact is that the Caspian's interests and opportunities should be wider, the key task is to raise the level of economic development of the Caspian, which has been very low so far.
- How do you assess the environmental activity in the Caspian?
- They also do not pay much attention to the ecological system which is on the brink of a crisis. The Tehran Convention, which was signed several years ago, is not efficient. It includes very soft law, but no obligations, no mechanisms appropriate for monitoring the Caspian ecology. It has not been discussed until now. These issues are posed by Russia and Iran, in general, by all countries, but monitoring of the Caspian region in accordance with the Tehran Convention is, in fact, not being conducted. We have a beautiful sea, excellent relations between the leaders of the states, vast oil, gas and fish resources, great opportunities and good science. The Academy of Sciences has many outstanding developments on the Caspian, its ecology, use and protection of the sea. But it has not been compiled, integrated, but finding a curator who would deal with this issue is really difficult. The status of the president's special representative is quite formal, I can write a note to the president, but nobody regulates these issues anyway. If we calculate the damage in the Caspian, both environmental and economic, then I think it would amount to several billion, but we could send this money to the budget of the country and the Caspian regions.
Therefore, I believe that the signing of the Convention is to make us work more effectively and cooperate more fully on the Caspian in the people's interests. There are people with rich traditional cultures living in the region, and we do not use this humanitarian and cultural potential sufficiently. After signing of the Convention, we must become more active in the Caspian in a good way.
- Has the issue of integration structure of the organization of the Caspian cooperation become more relevant?
- That's a very good question, because when we analyze the situation, it turns out that we have well developed bilateral relations in the Caspian, but very poorly developed relations between all five parties. We have a huge integration potential that is not used. In 1995, I tried to create an interparliamentary assembly of the Caspian states, even held a meeting in Makhachkala with the participation of MPs from the five countries, deputies from Georgia also arrived, but since then nobody has been engaged in it for more than 20 years. Similarly, we should establish economic cooperation organizations, as well as a certain version of the Caspian UNESCO due to the enormous humanitarian potential of our countries. Nobody prevents us from doing it, we are all friends and associates in the Caspian region, and all our positive slogans should be translated into concrete programs. In a note I wrote for the president, we proposed the development of a special integrated program for the development of the Caspian region and cooperation with the Caspian states, which should be developed by the government of the Russian Federation. A coordinator from the government is required in order to implement this program. Such long-term efforts are ahead after the signing of the Convention.