The Caspian Summit: successful cooperation in the 'oasis of peace' (Ambassador Yakovenko, for Russia Today)

One of the biggest achievements of the Caspian Summit was the considerable progress made in preparing the Convention on the Caspian Sea legal status. This was made possible by an agreement on key principles of littoral states’ activity in the Caspian Sea, set out in the political declaration signed by the leaders. This declaration will form the future convention’s cornerstone. It is expected that the convention will soon be ready for signing to successfully conclude the work that has been going on for 18 years now.

More than that an agreement on a clear language on delineating marine areas, the seabed, subsoil resources, and rules and principles covering navigation and fishing, has been reached. The provision that the greater part of the Caspian Sea area remains the littoral countries’ commons is very important. This makes it possible to rule out the sorts of misunderstandings and tensions in interstate relations that previously could arise over different interpretations of the rules governing the Caspian waters.
The declaration sets out a fundamental principle for guaranteeing stability and security, namely, that only the littoral states have the right to have their armed forces present on the Caspian. In general, only the five Caspian nations that have sovereign rights over the Caspian Sea and its resources will resolve all matters pertaining to the region.
More importantly, it was decided to activate joint efforts on the basis of the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea, which came into force during the Summit. This is a framework agreement, and in order to implement it provisions in an efficient fashion, protocols on cooperation between littoral countries’ border guards and tax services will be prepared.
The Summit also created an opportunity for the joint development of transport infrastructure, including the North-South corridor that will link countries in western and northwest Europe with southern Asia via Russia, the Caspian basin and Iran, as well as building a railway encircling the Caspian. Further, a number of multilateral projects, including those in disaster relief and rescue, have been worked out. The cooperation agreement in the area of hydrometeorology has also reached a successful cinclusion. The agreement will enable littoral states to set up a regional system for exchanging information on the station of the Caspian, needed for ensuring safe navigation and oil production.
Summing up, the Caspian Summit showed that an efficient model of mutually benefitial cooperation in the Caspian Sea, which was rightly called an oasis of peace by President Vladimir Putin, is created in the once very contested region.
The Fourth Caspian Summit, a meeting of leaders of all the Caspian Sea littoral states, namely Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, took place in Astrakhan on September 29.