Caspian states sign landmark legal status convention

13 Août, 2018, 08:38 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • ITAR-TASS  Oleg Kuzmin

The agreement signed in Aktau, Kazakhstan, by the presidents of Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, establishes rules for declaring each country's territorial waters and fishing zones.

According to the Russian president, the necessary regulatory base for the settlement of the legal status of the Caspian Sea will be provided by six agreements in the spheres of economy, transport and security, which were also signed on Sunday.

The legal status of the Caspian Sea has remained unresolved for almost 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Caspian Sea Legal Regime Convention also puts emphasis on sovereignty and sovereign rights of littoral states while recognizing their right to decide on the sea.

Addressing a meeting of the Caspian Sea states' foreign ministers on Saturday night, Zarif said the convention on the sea's legal status would be a very important step, which would put an end to 21 years of negotiations.

Iran has argued it should be called a lake, a description that has wide implications.

Under this binding legislation, any country can access the natural resources in the ocean.

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If deemed a sea, the five countries would draw lines extending from their shores to the midway point with littoral neighbors, while classifying it as a lake would mean the resources would be divided equally among those five countries.

At stake are resources including trillions of dollars' worth of hydrocarbons in the seabed, which holds about 50 billion barrels of oil and almost 9 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in proven or probable reserves.

This prize of vast resources has led to past bitter disputes - including the deployment of warships to deter contractors hired by rival companies.

A sturgeon is caught on the Caspian Sea.

Up to about 90 per cent of the world's caviar is reportedly sourced from the Caspian, but overfishing has resulted in bans on sturgeon fishing in the wild.

"We need to make full use of the possibilities of the convention and signed documents to stimulate trade and economic relations between the coastal states", Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarabyev was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

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