Caspian countries close positions on Sea status: official
By Nigar Orujova
There is hope that new agreements on the status of the Caspian Sea will be reached at a summit to be held in Russia next year, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister, Khalaf Khalafov told journalists on December 11.
The Caspian countries have now narrowed their positions on the Sea's status, Khalafov said.
At present, groups are working on a draft document, which may be signed by the Heads of States at the summit in Russia. A meeting of foreign ministers is to be held in the first quarter of next year ahead of the summit of Heads of States. Ministers will discuss the issues planned for consideration at the summit, he said.
Khalafov also added that in late January, 2014, Astana will host a meeting of the working group. Along with the Caspian Sea status, the group will discuss the signing of agreements for the protection of biological resources and environmental issues, especially with respect to determining the area of fisheries.
The Framework Convention was the first legally binding regional agreement signed by all the five Caspian littoral states, laying out general requirements and an institutional mechanism for environmental protection in the resource-rich Caspian region.
While Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia agreed on the delimitation of the sea in early 2000, other littoral states -Turkmenistan and Iran- still cannot reach the consensus.
Beside the legal status identification, Caspian Sea, a home for about 141 fish species, also awaits of the ecological problems resolution.
The main fishery in the region, the sturgeon fishery, is operated only with the Caspian's resources. Some 90 percent of the popular black and red caviar sold all over the world comes from the Caspian Sea.