Yefim Pivovar: "Caspian Convention is unprecedented document"
A year ago, the heads of the five Caspian states signed the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea in Aktau, Kazakhstan. It took more than 20 years to work our the document, signed by the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The historian, the corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the president of the Russian State University for the Humanities, member of the Council of the Russian Historical Society Yefim Pivovar told Vestnik Kavkaza about the significance of the convention, which reserves the five states' exclusive and perfect rights over the Caspian Sea, responsible exploration and use of its subsoil and other resources.
- Today marks the year since the Convention on the Status of the Caspian Sea was signed. How important was it for the post-Soviet space?
- It is unprecedented. There are many experts who are very skeptical of achievements in the post-Soviet space, they believe that integration processes are stalling, they seek out for only problems. The marathon, which ended a year ago, says the opposite: integration processes are underway, if solutions are reached, they are productive. Moreover, these processes even go beyond the post-Soviet space: Iran was not part of the USSR, but only bordered on the Soviet Union. All five countries have many similarities, but also substantive differences, and the signed document radically reduces the possible risks of the coexistence of these countries in the future. It is no accident that with a helping hand from of Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev this document was named the 'constitution,' not just a convention, and our president noted that this event was unprecedented.
The main thing is that a compromise was reached: key issues were resolved, although initially the Caspian littoral countries' positions not only did not coincide, but contradicted each other. The positions of many countries, including Russia, have changed based on the today's context. The document allows us to look to the future with a certain degree of optimism. The Convention did not come out of nothing: there were many negotiating stages in different formats, and as a result, the leaders of these countries made a compromise. I think this convention has a great future.
- How do you assess the prospects of the Caspian cooperation?
- It was not about the convention, the roadmap itself, but about the series of events that has become possible and is already being prepared. First, the 1st Caspian Economic Forum is being held in Turkmenistan now, and this event will be permanent, which will allow accumulating economic opportunities of the five countries. They have different economic opportunities, but they complement each other. Such synergy will have a very powerful effect. Second, several activities in the field of humanitarian cooperation are being prepared. Next year, a political-humanitarian forum will be held in Azerbaijan, which will cover topics of a common history, issues of linguistics, language, as well as territorial cultural and historical heritage.
Humanitarian issues are discussed by the Caspian states at different levels and in different formats. In the photo: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian historian Yefim Pivovar
I think there will be many formats facing the future, that is, the youth, student and educational ones. There are many agreements between our countries at the level of states, universities and ministries, but the five-sided format allows us to significantly expand and modify these contacts. The Association of State Universities of Caspian Region Countries existed even before the convention was signed, and now other formats of youth communication will emerge.
There are also professional prospects: it's everything about the Caspian Sea - ecology, security problems, transport and logistics, energy. The Caspian basin is one of the richest in energy resources in the world.
- What role did the convention play in the geopolitical context?
- The countries of the region have huge hydrocarbon reserves. It would seem that it's easy to break them up, turn them against each other as competitors. In terms of geopolitics, the Caspian region is a tidbit. Many global powers would like to establish control over it, but the convention gives the authority to control and engage in activities there, including military-political, only to the regional countries. There are no military-political contradictions between our countries, but external actors could adversely affect the situation in the Caspian Sea. Now it is out of the question.
In addition, the agreement will deal with such dangers as terrorism and drug trafficking that have captured neighboring regions.
As for the transportation of energy supplies, labor, logistics, these are also important factors for the Caspian states. Logistics makes it possible to use the Caspian Sea as an important transportation area, not only by sea, but also by air and rail routes. The signing of the convention is a factor that guarantees peace and security in the region, which is extremely important today. It is also a factor that ensures the economic interests of all participants in this process. Competitions of some oil pipelines or gas pipelines with others have become a thing of the past by now. There no more fears that some kind of pipeline project in which one of the producing countries will not participate will result in loss for it.
A few years ago, Yefim Pivovar’s book 'Russian-Azerbaijani relations of the end of the 20th to the early 21st centuries' was published, which included a special section on the interaction between the two countries on the Caspian issues
The Convention includes both the duties and responsibilities of countries in the field of ecology. It is one of the key topics for the Caspian.It is in our collective interest to ensure that the Caspian is not just a place to swim, but it's also one of the most important fishing areas, with black caviar and all delicacies which our people like so much. Together, we can preserve this fishery, ensure that the Caspian Sea is not only a global sea and a transport hub, but also an example of preserving and increasing the wealth of nature. This is an area which is amazing in terms of ecology, health care, and the problems associated with food products. Not to mention that it has several climatic zones, unique flora and fauna. We are proud of lotuses, we are proud of trees that grow in the south of the Caspian. This is an amazing object for tourism, whic is becoming the most important source of income for many countries. This applies to Astrakhan, Baku, Aktau and many other places.
The Caspian is a unique region in terms of historical and cultural traditions. Many civilizations emerged here, it still has monuments of different eras. This is important for humanity as a whole. It is also a special object of international law, because it is extremely difficult to fit the uniqueness of the Caspian Sea into any one legal form. The convention signed a year ago was a breakthrough, as it is regulated by two parallel but different legal institutions - the maritime law and the non-maritime law.