Caspian Sea coun­tries sign land­mark deal, dif­fuse ten­sion

China Daily - - WORLD -

AK­TAU, Kaza­khstan — The lead­ers of the five states bor­der­ing the re­source-rich Caspian Sea signed a land­mark deal on Sun­day on the le­gal sta­tus of the in­land sea which boasts a wealth of oil and gas reserves and stur­geon.

The lead­ers of Azer­bai­jan, Iran, Kaza­khstan, Rus­sia and Turk­menistan signed the agree­ment on the le­gal sta­tus of the sea, with the host, Kazakh Pres­i­dent Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev, say­ing be­fore the sign­ing that the lead­ers were “par­tic­i­pants in a his­toric event”.

Rus­sian leader Vladimir Putin, whose coun­try was seen as driv­ing the deal, said the con­ven­tion had “epoch-mak­ing sig­nif­i­cance” and called for more mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the coun­tries on the Caspian.

Nazarbayev said al­lows for the the con­ven­tion con­struc­tion of un­der­wa­ter oil and gas pipe­lines as well as set­ting na­tional quo­tas for fish­ing and for­bids any for­eign mil­i­tary pres­ence.

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani was quick to hail the clause that pre­vents non-Caspian coun­tries from de­ploy­ing mil­i­tary forces.

“The Caspian Sea only be­longs to the Caspian states,” he said.

The draft agree­ment, briefly made pub­lic on a Rus­sian gov­ern­ment por­tal in June, refers to the Caspian as a sea but the pro­vi­sions give it “a spe­cial le­gal sta­tus”, Rus­sian Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Grig­ory Karasin told Kom­m­er­sant daily.

It is the Caspian’s vast hy­dro­car­bon reserves — es­ti­mated at around 50 bil­lion bar­rels of oil and just un­der 8.4 tril­lion cu­bic me­ters of nat­u­ral gas in proved and prob­a­ble reserves — that have made a deal both vi­tal and com­plex to achieve.

“Dis­putes arose when the Caspian was a fron­tier oil prov­ince,” said John Roberts, of the At­lantic Coun­cil’s Eura­sia Cen­ter, while it is “now well es­tab­lished, with ma­jor fields ap­proach­ing peak ... pro­duc­tion”.

Any deal will “ex­pand the field for mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion” be­tween the five states, said Il­ham Shaban, who heads the Caspian Bar­rel think tank.

Be­yond mil­i­tary and eco­nomic ques­tions, the agree­ment also of­fers hope for the Caspian’s eco­log­i­cal diver­sity.

Re­port­edly de­pleted stocks of the bel­uga stur­geon, whose eggs are prized as caviar, may now grow thanks to “a clear com­mon regime for the wa­ters of the Cen­tral Caspian,” Roberts said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.