The 42nd regular session of the working group on the Convention of the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea opened at the Kazakh Foreign Ministry in Astana Nov. 18.
Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan have been negotiating the legal status of the inland body of water since the early 1990s, when the issue arose following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the appearance of four new states on its shores. “During the negotiation process, Kazakhstan has since the beginning followed a compromise approach that takes into account the interests of all riparian countries. For this reason, Kazakhstan’s position on the main aspects of the legal status of the Caspian Sea was spread as an official document of the United Nations (UN) in 1997 and to date remains consistent and unchanged,” said Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov, explaining Astana’s position.
Kazakhstan’s approach is based on the need to establish the territorial waters, fishing zones and common water space in the Caspian Sea in accordance with the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to ensure the political and economic interests of the littoral countries.
“Concerning delimitation of the Caspian Sea bottom, Kazakhstan adheres to the position that it should be divided among the littoral states on the areas within which they have the sovereign right to conduct exploration and development of the natural resources of the Caspian shelf,” said Idrissov.
He suggested it would be advantageous to carry out delimitation of the Caspian Sea in accordance with existing international methods and practices based on the agreement of neighbouring states, taking into account generally-recognised norms of international law.
“Currently, Kazakhstan has concluded appropriate bilateral agreements with Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan which ensure the international legal framework for development of oil and gas reserves in the northeastern part of the Caspian Sea, thus creating an attractive and stable investment climate,” said the Kazakh minister.
The settlements indicate delimitation of the Kazakh sector of the sea bottom is almost complete, he said.
Regarding the order of navigation, Idrissov suggested the position which fully corresponds to the decisions of the fourth summit in Astrakhan. Thus, Kazakhstan recommended establishing a uniform regime in the national sovereignty area in accordance with the basic provisions of the law of the sea for all kinds of vessels, except warships. The authorisation procedure needs to be applied to warships to pass through the territorial waters.
In marine areas beyond the territorial waters, Kazakhstan proposed establishing freedom of navigation, based on the condition that vessels respect sovereign and exclusive rights of riparian states for the use of mineral resources and biological resources fishery.
The laying of pipelines and transit is extremely important to the interests of each state, said Idrissov, because it directly affects the degree of economic development, as well as international trade and economic relations in particular.