'Caspian Five' to gather for a meeting in Baku
The next meeting of the working group on defining the legal status of Caspian Sea is scheduled for late January and it will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov said.
Khalafov noted that preparation for the next session of foreign ministers of the Caspian littoral states will also be discussed during the meeting, along with the legal status of the Caspian Sea.
The agenda of the working group includes continuation of discussions on the still uncoordinated issues regarding the draft convention, Khalafov said.
“Preparations for the next session of foreign ministers of the Caspian littoral states and the 2017 Caspian summit will also be discussed,” APA cited him as saying.
According to Khalafov, all countries have confirmed their participation in the meeting of the working group.
Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran signed a framework convention on environmental protection of the Caspian Sea in November 2003. Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement delineating the northern part of the sea in July 1998 and a protocol to the document in May 2002. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan signed a similar agreement and a protocol on November 29, 2001, and February 27, 2003, respectively. Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia signed an agreement establishing the crossing point of borders of the three states on May 14, 2003.
Summits with the participation of heads of the Caspian states were held in 2002 (Ashgabat), 2007 (Tehran), 2010 (Baku) and 2014 (Astrakhan).
A senior scientist at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Pritchin, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the territorial issue remains the key uncoordinated one for the Convention on the Caspian Sea. "The task of the negotiators is to provide the principles on the basis of which the sea will be divided. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to support the modified median line principle of dividing the northern part of the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan is ready to accept it with reservations, but Iran has not accepted it yet," he recalled.
Also, negotiations on the Trans-Caspian pipelines will continue. "There is a particular position of Turkmenistan, which insists that the consent of the parties involved in the construction of the pipeline is enough for laying pipes on the seabed. Russia and Iran officially declare that, in connection with serious environmental risks of the closed sea, the laying of trunk pipelines is a very difficult issue, and its solution requires the consent of all five parties," Stanislav Pritchin pointed out.
The expert pointed out that the Caspian summit may be postponed to next year. "This year there are several factors that speak about its possible delay, in particular, the upcoming presidential elections in Iran. The decision to hold the summit will depend on whether there will be a base to adopt the Convention or the instruments securing progress in the negotiation process. After the development of new arrangements there will be conditions for the organization of a new summit on the Caspian Sea," the senior scientist at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences concluded.
A senior researcher of the Analytical Center IMI of the Russian MGIMO, Leonid Gusev, also pointed to the complexity of the completing the negotiations on the Caspian Sea this year. "It is necessary that everything was finally agreed by all the Caspian states. It is not so easy to complete the process, because if before the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were only two states in the Caspian Sea - the Soviet Union and Iran, now there are five states. If all points of the Convention are not agreed, the convocation of the new Caspian summit may be postponed to future years," Leonid Gusev stressed.