By Rashid Shirinov
Kazakhstan will be able to state the completion of the legal registration of the boundaries of sovereign rights to subsoil use in the Caspian Sea after defining the point of junction of the lines of delimitation for the bottom sections in the trilateral format with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the official website of the Kazakh prime minister cited Ambassador-at-Large of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry Zulfiya Amanzholova as saying on August 18.
“The Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea regulates the whole range of issues related to the rights and obligations of the coastal states regarding the use of the Caspian Sea, including its waters, the bottom, subsoil, natural resources and air space above it,” she said.
Amanzholova noted that delimitation of the water area was clarified and territorial waters with a width of 15 nautical miles were established.
“Their external borders acquire the state status. Ten-mile fishing zones are adjacent to territorial waters, where each state has exclusive rights for fishing,” she said. “Fishery will be implemented on the basis of agreed national quotas. Outside the fishing zones, the common water area is preserved. Outside the sea borders, there will be freedom of navigation for vessels flying the flags of coastal countries.”
Amanzholova also noted that Kazakhstan has defined its state border along the entire territory, because the country had legally designed land borders before the signing of the Convention. The Convention also allows Kazakhstan to determine the limits of sovereignty at sea, she added.
As for the delineation of the Caspian seabed for subsoil use, according to the document, each state enjoys sovereign rights for subsoil use within its bottom sector. By now, the seabed and subsoil of the Caspian Sea in its northern and central parts have been delineated. Kazakhstan signed the corresponding agreement with Russia in 1998, as well as the protocol to it in 2002.
The delimitation of the seabed between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan was fixed in the agreement of 2001 and its protocol in 2003. There is also the Kazakh-Azerbaijani-Russian agreement on the point of junction of the lines of delimitation of adjacent sections of the Caspian Sea bottom, signed in 2003. The agreement of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on the delimitation of the seabed is secured by the agreement of 2014.
As a result of the summit in Aktau on August 12, where the presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, the body of water gained a special, unique status – it was declared neither lake nor sea. According to the Convention, 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.
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.
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