Caspian Sea

First meeting on Caspian Sea legal status to be held in Baku

MNA – The first meeting of the working group on the legal status of the Caspian Sea is scheduled to be held in Baku in November, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said.

“As is known, in order to effectively implement the Convention [on the legal status of the Caspian Sea] and the review of cooperation in the Caspian Sea, the heads of state at the Summit in Aktau decided to establish a working group at the level of deputy foreign ministers – plenipotentiaries of the Caspian states. There are plans to hold the first meeting of this group in Baku this November,” he was also quoted as saying by Azer News.

The Azerbaijani minister noted that the heads of states, including Iran, are commissioned to begin agreeing on a five-sided agreement on the method of establishing direct baselines in the Caspian Sea in order to determine the territorial waters of coastal countries.

This issue will be the main agenda of the new stage of negotiations in a five-sided format, Mammadyarov added.

Mammadyarov noted that the Convention establishes territorial waters and fishing zones, which are subject to sovereignty and exclusive rights of coastal states.

On August 12, the Kazakh city of Aktau hosted a ceremony of signing documents on the legal status of the Caspian Sea at the 5th summit of heads of the Caspian states.

As a result of the summit, the Caspian Sea gained a special, unique status — it was declared neither lake nor sea. Accordingly, the surface is to be treated as a sea, with states granted jurisdiction over 15 nautical miles of water from their coasts and fishing rights over an additional ten miles.

However, the seabed and its deposits are not allocated in precise form. The delineation of the seabed, which is almost completely an oil and gas basin, is yet to be defined. This division is left to countries to agree on a bilateral basis.

The convention also permits the construction of pipelines, which only require the approval of the countries whose seabed they pass, subject to environmental provisions, and forbids non-Caspian countries from deploying military vessels in the water.

Work on the document has been going on since 1996, and the draft convention was finally agreed upon within the framework of the meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian states in Moscow on December 4-5, 2017.