Tehran Hosting Caspian Meeting

Tehran Hosting Caspian MeetingTehran Hosting Caspian Meeting

A two-day meeting of Caspian Sea states at the level of deputy foreign ministers is to kick off in Tehran on Sunday to follow up discussions aimed at working out the details of a draft convention on the legal status of the sea.

Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are littoral states of the resource-rich Caspian Sea, which have held talks since 1991 to create a legal regime to determine their territorial rights.

As yet, such negotiations have not produced the desired results. Officials from the five states last convened in a ministerial meeting on July 12 in the Kazakh capital Astana, IRNA reported on Saturday.  Kazakhstan is slated to host the upcoming Fifth Caspian Summit. The last presidential summit took place in the Russian port city of Astrakhan in 2014, during which the five signed an agreement to promote the sustainable use of the Caspian Sea and protect its marine life.

They also agreed on key principles of their activity in the Caspian Sea, which were set out in a political declaration that would form the convention's cornerstone.

  Convention in the Pipeline  

"Our experts have received the instruction to step up consultations on the remaining issues to be settled and we have every reason to expect that we will soon have the convention ready for signing and will thus successfully conclude the work that has been going on for 18 years now," the declaration said. All parties were committed to improving the habitats of sturgeons in the sea, developing natural and artificial reproduction of fish resources and curbing illegal fishing.

"The Caspian is an enclosed inland sea and has a fragile ecosystem that is highly vulnerable to external impact. Any industrial accident could have a disastrous effect on the sea's ecosystem and would have consequences too for the lives of all of our countries' people. This is why we put such emphasis on the agreement on five-party cooperation in disaster relief and cleanup," said the document.

It was agreed that the greater part of the sea marine area remains in the countries' common use. "This makes it possible to rule out the sort of misunderstandings and tension in our inter-state relations that previously could arise over different interpretations of the rules governing the Caspian waters," the declaration stated. Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water by area and variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea.

The issue of Caspian Sea's legal regime gained importance, following the breakup of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new independent states. The Iranian foreign minister addressed the ministerial conference and met a number of his counterparts, including the Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov, on the sidelines of the event.


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