By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan is committed to resolve the issue of the Caspian Sea status as part of the sovereign and mutually beneficial partnership among all Caspian littoral countries, said Khalaf Khalafov, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister.
He made the statement at the 39th meeting of the expert group on the Caspian Sea legal status determination in Baku on March 4, which is attended by representatives of all five Caspian littoral countries.
The meeting aims to negotiate the text of the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, and determine the agenda and date of the next summit which will be held in Astana this year.
“The third Caspian summit held in Baku in 2010 gave a new impetus to address the main issues related to the Caspian Sea status,” Khalafov said. “In particular, these issues relate to the common approaches to coordinate the delimitation of the relevant water areas and the protection of biological marine resources.”
"An important document regulating the activity of the Caspian-littoral countries was adopted in Astrakhan at the same summit in 2014," he said.
The official stressed that Azerbaijan has already completed the intestate procedures to approve the agreements made at the Astrakhan summit.
"I am confident that the principles agreed by the presidents in Astrakhan will be taken into account while negotiating the draft convention," Khalafov said.
The deputy minister said mutual trust between all sides, in particular, the regional stability, security and economic activity in the Caspian Sea is important.
Khalafov stressed the need for stability in the Caspian Sea, taking into account the interests of all sides and undiminished security for all and each other.
"The issues related to the strengthening of international cooperation, improving of the investment climate, developing and transporting of energy resources to the international markets are among the priorities of the coastal countries," Khalafov said. “Creating of the safe communications and increasing of the number of highly profitable and environmentally friendly technologies are also among them.”
The uncertainty of the legal status of the Caspian Sea hampers effort to effectively help the fateful water reservoir that is endangered now.
The Caspian Sea is a home to 80-85 percent of the world sturgeon, now witnessing a sharp decrease of these fish species.
Moreover, the Caspian Sea with its rich natural resources is also home to about 141 other fish species. However, this natural wonder is struggling with different problems including pollution.
Five coastal states, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran, signed a framework convention on the protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea in November 2003.
In July 1998, Russia and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on the delimitation of the northern part of the Caspian Sea in order to implement sovereign rights for subsoil use, and the protocol to this agreement was signed May 2002. Agreements on the delimitation of the Caspian Sea between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and the protocol were signed on November 29, 2001 and February 27, 2003 respectively.
Also, an agreement on the delimitation of adjacent sections of the Caspian Sea was signed by Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia May 14, 2003.
Significant progress has been achieved in drafting a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea in September 2014. The convention possibly may be signed at the Kazakhstan summit this year.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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