Littoral states to sign document on Caspian Sea status

By Aliia Raimbekova

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AA) – Five littoral states — Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan — on Sunday will sign a document on the legal status of the Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov will meet in the Kazakh city of Aktau, where they will hold the Fifth Caspian Summit.

Aktau on Saturday will host the Caspian Foreign Ministers Meeting prior to the summit.

The summit will focus on three main items; legal status of the Caspian Sea, cooperation in the Caspian Sea, and regional and global issues.

By the end of the summit, the sides plan to sign the main outcome document, Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, which was finalized at the Caspian Foreign Ministers Meeting in Moscow late 2017.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Caspian littoral states started negotiations over the legal status of the sea. However, wide divisions between these countries created a deadlock, preventing the sharing of the sea’s rich hydrocarbon resources.

According to the draft agreement, an area of 15 nautical miles from the coast will be regarded as the respective country's territory.

By adding 10 nautical miles to this distance, a total of 25 nautical miles will be set as the fishing zone of each country.

The remaining parts will be neutral zones open to common use.

The bottom of the Caspian Sea will be divided among the littoral states.

The agreement also included the principles of preservation of a military balance, the protection of biological resources and navigation safety.

It will imply equal rights for all littoral states.

Experts believe that the littoral states will get closer both in political and economic terms after the signing of the legal status of the Caspian Sea.