Politics, World

Littoral states agree on Caspian Sea status

Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan reach deal on legal status of Caspian Sea

Littoral states agree on Caspian Sea status (left to right) Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguli Berdimuhammedov pose for a family photo during the 5th summit of the leaders of Caspian Sea littoral states in Aktau, Kazakhstan on August 12, 2018. Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, the five Caspian littoral states, reached a deal Sunday on the legal status of the resource-rich sea. ( Iranian Presidency / Handout - Anadolu Agency )

By Aliia Raimbekova 

ASTANA, Kazakhstan

Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, the five Caspian littoral states reached a deal Sunday on the legal status of the resource-rich sea. 

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani, Kazakhtan's Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russia's Vladimir Putin and the president of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov met in the Kazakh city of Aktau for the Fifth Caspian Summit. 

The summit mainly focused on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. 

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the 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 agreement, an area of 15 nautical miles from the coast will be regarded as each respective country's territory. 

Fishing zones are to be delimited 25 nautical miles from each country's coast. 

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.

Speaking at the summit, Nazarbayev said signing of the convention and a number of bilateral documents was an evidence of friendly relations among the Caspian states and a joint desire to closely cooperate and show respect for the Caspian Sea.

"I am confident that the results of Aktau Summit will make a worthy contribution to the advancement of our multifaceted cooperation in the Caspian Sea," Nazarbayev was quoted as saying in a statement.

Putin termed the summit "extraordinary, if not historic," and said the countries have been striving for many years to develop and approve this "strategic and fundamental" document. 

"It is crucially important to note that the Convention confers upon the five states exclusive and sovereign rights to use the Caspian Sea, to pursue its responsible development and to use its assets and other resources, while firmly securing the settlement of all pressing issues based on the principles of consensus and mutual consideration of each other’s interests," Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement. 

Rouhani said that by signing of convention, a new step has been taken to improve relations among the five littoral countries.

"Today, the five Caspian Sea littoral states took very important steps for strengthening regional security and better relations between each other, as well as taking better advantage of the Caspian Sea," Rouhani was quoted as saying in a separate statement.

Aliyev said bilateral and multilateral cooperation on Caspian Sea will contribute to the stability and security in the region.

Berdimuhamedov said the convention will promote mutual understanding between coastal countries and added Caspian Sea will permanently remain the zone of peace and good-neighborliness. 

* Diyar Guldogan from Ankara contributed to this story.

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