1st LD: 5 states sign pact for shared use of Caspian Sea

ITAR-TASS  Oleg Kuzmin

At the conclusion of the summit in the Kazakh city of Aktau on Sunday, the presidents of Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and the Republic of Azerbaijan signed the convention on the Caspian legal regime.

The surface water will be treated like a sea - meaning freedom of access to all beyond territorial waters - but the seabed which is rich in natural resources will be divided up.

And while some countries have pressed ahead with large offshore projects such as the Kashagan oil field off Kazakhstan's coast, disagreement over the sea's legal status has prevented some other ideas from being implemented.

Sunday's summit was the fifth of its kind since 2002 but there have been more than 50 lower-level meetings since the Soviet breakup spawned four new countries on the shores of the Caspian.

The signed agreement gives the body of water a "special legal status", which means it is neither a sea or lake, Russian officials said.

He added the landmark accord also limits military presence in the Caspian Sea to the five littoral countries.

People exercise on a beach on the Caspian Sea in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2015.

"The convention stipulates that all legal issues of the Caspian Sea are operational and applicable only through the consensus of the five countries, which is very important and fundamental", he said.


But some are likely to view it as more of a breakthrough than others.

Speaking on Sunday at Caspian Sea Littoral States Summit, President Rouhani said, "Today, this region has turned into a successful model for guaranteeing peace, stability, friendship, good neighbourliness and progress and this summit is another step for further convergence in the region that needs to be strengthened by taking more steps".

Turkmenistan could benefit from a concession allowing the construction of underwater pipelines, which were previously blocked by the other states.

One of those is a pipeline across the Caspian which could ship natural gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and then further to Europe, allowing it to compete with Russian Federation in the Western markets. It is also a favoured route for energy pipelines.

"Neither will a major transport corridor to export Turkmen gas to Europe emerge overnight".

According to BBC, the new agreement finds a middle ground.

The leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan signed the agreement on the status of the inland sea, which has been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union rendered obsolete agreements between Tehran and Moscow.

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