Wednesday, 27 March 2002

CASPIAN COUNTRIES PREPARE FOR SUMMIT

Published in Field Reports
Rate this item
(0 votes)

By Gulnara Ismailova, a freelance journalist, based in Baku, Azerbaijan (3/27/2002 issue of the CACI Analyst)

There is no common approach among littoral countries of the Caspian sea regarding the legal basis of the Caspian Sea. Relations between Caspian countries regarding exploitation of the sea determinate two treaties concluded in 1921 – between Soviet Russia and Persia, and also in 1940 –between Soviet Union and Iran.

Baku, Moscow and Astana have basically agreed on a solution dividing the bottom of the sea and keeping the water common, however, Iran’s position remains the main impediment to a solution.

There is no common approach among littoral countries of the Caspian sea regarding the legal basis of the Caspian Sea. Relations between Caspian countries regarding exploitation of the sea determinate two treaties concluded in 1921 – between Soviet Russia and Persia, and also in 1940 –between Soviet Union and Iran.

Baku, Moscow and Astana have basically agreed on a solution dividing the bottom of the sea and keeping the water common, however, Iran’s position remains the main impediment to a solution. In a recent interview to Teheran TV, the Iranian minister of foreign affairs Kamal Kharazzi declared that interests of all littoral countries should be taken into consideration. Hence Iran considers the condominium principle the best solution to the Caspian’s status and sticks to the stance that if Caspian countries should come to a decision to divide the sea, the same regime should be applied for the water and for the seabed. Iran believes it should thereby receive 20% of the sea. Moreover, Iran proposed joint exploitation of disputed oil fields.

On January 24 this year, during meeting of the special representatives of the Caspian countries, the first signs of an emerging common position were observed. At the completion of the summit, a communiqué on working out a status convention was signed. At the time, Iranian deputy minister of foreign affairs Mehdi Safari called the meeting "useful and constructive".

At the end of February, an international conference in Moscow was used as another non-formal meeting of Caspian littoral states’ special representatives. For the first time in 10 years, the Caspian states agreed to create a joint center of environment monitoring, to form an economic community of Caspian countries, and to accelerate negotiations on the status.

During a meeting of the heads of state of the CIS countries in late February in Almaty, Turkmenistan’s President Saparmurad Niyazov proposed Caspian states’ leaders to meet on April 23-24 in Ashgabat.

On March 15, Iranian President Syed Mohammad Khatami told Niyazov he supported the idea to hold a summit of the five Caspian countries.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the planned summit, the US position on the issue became known. The Secretary f State’s advisor on Caspian issues Stephen Mann said that the exploitation of the oil resources of the Caspian was possible even without determining its legal status.

In addition Mann said any future agreement should not compromise the transportation of Caspian oil to world markets.

This statement was qualified as novel by political scientist Vafa Guluzade. In 1993, the U.S. administration insisted on the speedy determination of Caspian Sea status, considering that without that, the full exploitation of oil resources would be impossible. The recent statement implies that the U.S. now proceeds from the de facto state of affairs, in other words opposing a serious reorientation of de-facto existing Caspian national sectors, according to Guluzade.

Washington’s statement can be considered as a support for official Baku. That is particularly important in the light of Russian statements to the effect that consideration should be given to countries that are disadvantaged by nature. In reality, Moscow in no uncertain terms points to a desire to ensure that some Caspian countries, including Azerbaijan, would even in the case of a sectoral division have to cede part of their share in favor of Russia and Iran.

According to former Presidential advisor Eldar Namazov, the U.S. position seems to signify an unequivocal tough response of Washington to threats from official Teheran in March to exploit Caspian oil fields that Azerbaijan considers its own. Mann’s statement shows that Washington does not share the position of some countries of the region, primarily Russia, that all Caspian sea problems including the exploitation of oil fields, should be decided exclusively by the five coastal countries – giving others, including the U.S., no right to interfere in the resolution of these issues.

Despite the increased concurrence of the positions of the Caspian littoral states, there are still tensions regarding the Caspian Sea’s status. A speedy resolution of the problem seems imporbable in the immediate future.

Gulnara Ismailova, a freelance journalist, based in Baku, Azerbaijan

Read 2167 times

Visit also

silkroad

AFPC

isdp

turkeyanalyst

Joint Center Publications

Article S. Frederick Starr, "Why Central Asia Counts", Middle East Insights, November 6, 2017

Article Mamuka Tsereteli, “Russian Aggression in the Black Sea Cannot Go Unanswered” The Hill, September 11, 2017

Article Bilahari Kausikan, Fred Starr, and Yang Cheng, “Asia’s Game of Thrones, Central Asia: All Together Now.” The American Interest, June 16,2017

Article Svante E. Cornell “The Raucous Caucasus” The American Interest, May 2, 2017

Resource Page "Resources on Terrorism and Radical Islamism in Central Asia", Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, April 11, 2017.

Silk Road Monograph Nicklas Norling, Party Problems and Factionalism in Soviet Uzbekistan: Evidence from the Communist Party Archives, March 2017.

Oped Svante E. Cornell, "Russia: An Enabler of Jihad?", W. Martens Center for European Studies, January 16, 2017.

Book Svante E. Cornell, ed., The International Politics of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict: The Original 'Frozen Conflict' and European Security, Palgrave, 2017. 

Article Svante E. Cornell, The fallacy of ‘compartmentalisation’: the West and Russia from Ukraine to Syria, European View, Volume 15, Issue 1, June 2016.

Silk Road Paper Shirin Akiner, Kyrgyzstan 2010: Conflict and Context, July 2016. 

Silk Road Paper John C. K. Daly, Rush to Judgment: Western Media and the 2005 Andijan ViolenceMay 2016.

Silk Road Paper Jeffry Hartman, The May 2005 Andijan Uprising: What We KnowMay 2016.

Silk Road Paper Johanna Popjanevski, Retribution and the Rule of Law: The Politics of Justice in Georgia, June 2015.

Book S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell, eds., ·Putin's Grand Strategy: The Eurasian Union and its Discontents, Joint Center Monograph, September 2014.

The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.

Newsletter

Sign up for upcoming events, latest news and articles from the CACI Analyst

Newsletter