Caspian Littoral States' Foreign Ministers meet in Astana

Caspian Littoral States' Foreign Ministers meet in Astana

The meeting of foreign ministers of the ‘Caspian Five’ (Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan) focused on coordinating the Convention on the Caspian Sea legal status is being held in Astana today.

The Caspian states plan to continue to gain pace in development of international agreements in different spheres, the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov said. "This primarily regards issues of preparation of interdepartmental protocols on the security cooperation agreement in the Caspian Sea on specific areas of cooperation between the competent authorities," he said.

Idrissov noted that the main efforts of the parties will be aimed at finalizing a draft convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea.

"This fundamental legal document aims to lay a solid foundation in the future architecture of relations in the Caspian Sea, as well as to ensure stable and sustainable development of the Caspian region" the minister stressed.

"During the discussion, the participants of the negotiation process have closely approached the consensus on a draft convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea," the head of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry added.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov stressed that all the issues related to the Caspian Sea’s legal status must be resolved in the spirit of respect for sovereign rights of the Caspian countries and mutually beneficial partnership.

The great work has been done in the negotiation process to coordinate the provisions of the draft convention on the Caspian Sea’s legal status, he noted.

“The political decisions and agreements reached during the summits of heads of the Caspian states have contributed to the efficiency of further negotiations on the draft convention as a whole,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister added.

"We also proceed from the understanding that discussions of all the proposed projects of sectoral agreements should be conducted with the participation of all five Caspian littoral states," Trend cited him as saying.

According to him, it is necessary to reach agreements on all the uncoordinated provisions of the draft convention before the next summit of the heads of the Caspian states. It is also necessary to make every effort to accelerate the coordination of the draft convention’s provisions that constitute an important basis for determining the legal status of the Caspian Sea, Mammadyarov noted.

"The early signing of the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea will contribute to the adoption of more effective measures aimed at further interaction and cooperation of the Caspian states in various fields, including conservation of the Caspian ecosystem," the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister concluded.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Tehran favors a fair delimitation of the Caspian marine sectors.

He noted that the legal regime should "guarantee the interests of all the littoral states."

"Recognizing the key aspect — security, transparency, the use of the sea for peaceful purposes, the rejection of arms race, a guarantee for not using military force, the joint struggle against threats — this is what will ensure peace and stability in the region," Zarif listed.

Iranian Foreign Minister also pointed out that we should "be sensitive and attentive to the use of the Caspian seabed for the transport of contaminants to the world markets."

A senior scientist at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Pritchin, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, recalled that it is a planned meeting. "The next summit of heads of the Caspian states will be held this year,  and the high-level ministerial meeting is always held before it. The key objective of this meeting is to bring the positions of the sides on the arrangements, which will be achieved during the meeting of the presidents, as close as possible. At the moment it is difficult to say what the agenda for today's meeting is and what issues the sides will discuss in the first place," he explained.

The expert also shared his expectations from the meeting of the heads of state, which will be held this year. "On the one hand, in 2014, everyone were very optimistic about the next meeting after the Astrakhan summit. And there are a few positive things which may push the sides to reach a compromise. Firstly, this is a anniversary summit, and secondly, it is held in Astana. Kazakhstan's diplomacy always strives to ensure that the activities carried out on its territory bring the best results," the expert said.

At the same time, he stressed that any breakthrough in talks is due to a serious work of diplomats. "Iran should intensify its issues with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. It is also necessary for Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to solve their border issues. Most likely, certain agreement will be reached. But is a big question whether it will be special agreements, any political statements, or some kind of a declaration similar to those issued following the meeting in Astrakhan," Stanislav Pritchin concluded.