Great Leap Forward to Verify Caspian Legal Status

Great Leap Forward to Verify Caspian Legal Status
Great Leap Forward to Verify Caspian Legal Status

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the five states bordering the Caspian Sea have determined "the main points" of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea.

Speaking at the end of the Caspian littoral states' foreign ministers meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, Zarif said the five states could now work on the final draft of the convention before the Fifth Caspian Summit due to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, next year, IRNA reported.

He described the talks as “very good, serious and fruitful”.

Zarif and his Russian, Azeri, Kazakh and Turkmen counterparts met in the Russian capital to discuss a comprehensive document outlining the duties and rights of the Caspian Sea littoral states, among other issues.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the littoral states have agreed on “all the outstanding key issues” regarding the sea’s legal regime.

“We have completed our almost 20-year work on the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. This text will be submitted for approval by the heads of our states. We expect that they will support it,” Lavrov said.

Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said the agreement reached in Moscow between the foreign ministers can be counted as a breakthrough.

Sounding less positive, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov underlined the “need for maximum efforts to reach a consensus” on all remaining issues related to the Caspian Sea status before the future summit in Kazakhstan.

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area and is variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The issue of its legal status came into the spotlight after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new independent states bordering the sea.

Upon his arrival in Moscow, Zarif said the five countries had agreed that no foreign military will be allowed on the sea and that commercial vessels will fly the flags of all five littoral countries.

Lavrov noted that defense ministries of the five Caspian Sea countries were “positively” interacting with each other and had planned to hold joint drills next summer.

“This year, all the littoral states have exchanged friendly visits by the navies’ ships. The Sea Cup 2017 international contest held in summer was a big success,” he added.

Teams of the navies of Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan attended the Sea Cup 2017—held within the International Army Games—in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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