"Caspian Convention lays groundwork for joint projects"
The Convention on the Status of the Caspian Sea, signed more than a year ago by the heads of the five Caspian littoral states, has laid the groundwork for for the active development of joint bilateral and multilateral projects in this region, the expert on the Caspian region, head of the department at Baku State University Chingiz Ismailov said today at the 'Caspian Convention: a year later' panel discussion held within the 5th Caspian Media Forum, the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza reported.
The panel discussion was devoted to the tasks of filling out the Convention, which has a number of framework points, with the specifics of regional cooperation.
Chingiz Ismailov first of all drew attention to the fact that dialogue in the Caspian region was initially conducted between unequal states. "Young states do not aim at starting large geopolitical projects, while large states - Russia and Iran - have opposite goals. Therefore, it was necessary to reach an understanding between these two groups of states," he said.
As an example, the head of the BSU department proposed to consider the history of the Caspian pipelines. "During the conclusion of the 'Contract of the Century' on this issue - laying pipes from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli fields to the Azerbaijani coast - it was possible to agree with Russia. Now the same question arose in connection with the Trans-Caspian pipeline project. There is a compromise option if Iran and Russia join the construction," Chingiz Ismailov noted.
It is easier to enter multilateral projects because the Caspian region already has such experience. "We already have joint projects, such as the development of the Azerbaijani Shahdeniz field. If we talk about the prospects for cooperation, then, in addition to joint oil and gas projects, it is possible, for example, to launch tourist cruises in the Caspian countries. It is important that the adoption of the Caspian Convention gives us these opportunities," he said.
Director of 3rd View agency Rauf Rajabov confirmed that the Caspian states are able to significantly increase intra-regional economic cooperation and create a powerful security system. At the same time, he called for building a positive information field in the Caspian.
"It is necessary to determine how the Caspian states may guarantee that Iran will not be under the blow of a third party, and also determine the concept of strengthening the armed forces in the Caspian. In my opinion, creating a unified security system with the equality of all parties to the Caspian Convention will help," Rauf Rajabov pointed out.
Researcher at the Center for the Study of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Urals-Volga Region of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Vorobyev clarified that the Caspian Convention is important because that it gave a clear understanding of what can and cannot be done in the Caspian Sea both by the Caspian states and non-regional forces. "The point prohibiting the presence of external forces in the Caspian Sea is extremely important," he stressed.
Director of the Baku Network expert council Elkhan Aleskerov also agreed that the signing of the Caspian Convention gave impetus to the development of relations between the Caspian states. "Now the economies of Central Asia and the South Caucasus are growing, with the exception of Armenia, and this makes it particularly important to resolve the conflicts in the macro-region, since they interfere with the economic development of our states," he stressed.
"Military cooperation of the Caspian littoral states is extremely important now in connection with the constant threat of international terrorism - it updates our military and military-technical ties. It is also necessary to develop transport projects in the region and protect our common heritage," Elkhan Aleskerov urged.
Director of Yessenov University Maritime Academy Bolat Sarsenbayev, in turn, noted that the Caspian Convention "once again confirmed the legality of all contracts concluded for the development of the Caspian sea-bed floor."
The 5th Caspian Media Forum has opened in Astrakhan today. The forum is organised by the Center for International Public Policy Studies 'Caspian-Eurasia with information support from the Astrakhan region government. The project is also being implemented with the support of the CIS Interstate Humanitarian Cooperation Fund and the North-South Political Science Center.