Grigory Karasin: Caspian formula is very simple - respect and sensitivity to partners
The 5th Caspian summit, which will involve the leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan, will take place in Kazakhstan’s city of Aktau on August 12. The five Caspian states are expected to adopt the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, which was agreed on by the five states’ foreign ministers at their Moscow meeting on December 4-5, 2017.
The legal status of the Caspian Sea remains the key issue discussed at the regional countries’ summits.
The Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea will grant special status to the Caspian Sea, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said, adding that the convention will be beneficial to all the parties equally. "The formula is very simple - mutual respect for interests multiplied by sensitivity to the negotiating partner," Karasin said in an interview with the Kommersant daily.
According to the diplomat, the Caspian will be declared neither a sea nor a lake. "The Caspian Sea will have special legal status because of a number of geographic, hydrological and other features," Karasin explained. "It is a continental body of water not directly connected to oceans so it cannot be considered to be a sea," Karasin said.
At the same time, the senior Russian diplomat said that given its size, water chemistry and seabed features, the Caspian Sea cannot be viewed as a lake. "This is the reason why the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is not applicable to the Caspian Sea, as well as the principles concerning cross-border lakes, as only its seabed is divided into sectors, while sovereignty regarding its waters is established based on other principles," the diplomat noted.
Karasin noted that issues concerning the division of resources are resolved at bilateral and trilateral levels. "In my view, agreements that Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, as well as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, have made can serve as an example for conducting delimitation in the southern part of the Caspian Sea," he stressed.
However, according to the Russian diplomat, the Convention points out that such delimitation should be carried out only for the use of resources and obliges the parties to resolve issues through negotiations based on international law." "The littoral states will have the full jurisdiction over resources in their sectors of the seabed," Karasin said.
Head of the Center for Central Asia and Caucasus Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Pritchin, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the Aktau summit will be the beginning of a new era for the Caspian region. "All legal issues have been resolved, which means that all issues related to the uncertainty of the status of the reservoir and the principles of its separation fell off the agenda, leaving only issues concerning cooperation," he said.
"Of course, with regard to the Convention, there is still a certain probability that something will not work out at the last stage, but in general the parties now may use the established five-sided format of regular meetings at the level of deputy ministers. They should establish new structures, which will help the Caspian states to develop cooperation in a new era,using the created legal basis," Stanislav Pritchin stressed.
The leading expert of the North-South Political Science Center, Alexander Karavaev, also stressed that at the Aktau summit will close the era of legal disputes over economic activities in the Caspian region.
The Convention will allow us to finally move from resolving differences to enjoying productive cooperation. "There are a lot of practical issues ahead in terms of joint economic development, including the parameters of the organization of the Caspian economic cooperation, which should have such economic instruments as an own investment bank engaged in financing international projects. For example, the construction of a ring road, development of ports, resumption of bioresources, the search for integrated solutions in the power industry and the interaction in the industrial and innovation zones," Alexander Karavaev listed.