By Nigar Orujova
The latest session of the special working group on the Caspian Sea legal status held in Moscow on September 8-10 has achieved some positive results.
The 41st session at the level of deputy foreign ministers of the Caspian-littoral countries involved delegations from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.
In the discussions, special attention was paid to the method of setting the baselines, working out a navigation regime, and conducting marine scientific research in the Caspian Sea.
The progress was achieved by way of a draft convention. The exchange of expert opinions will continue at the next meeting.
The next meeting of the working group will be held in Kazakhstan. Its date will be agreed through diplomatic channels.
The 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. The littoral states have not been able to come on a single agreement on the legal status of the Caspian Sea for more than 20 years.
At present, the Caspian countries agreed on a number of issues, however there are still open questions.
There are two possible solutions to the legal status issue, one of which is delimitation using a midline modified method, the other is the division of territory into five equal parts of 20 percent share.
Baku supports defining the Caspian Sea's legal status based on the sovereign rights of the littoral states, a mutually beneficial partnership, and peaceful negotiations.
Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Russia have signed an agreement on the delimitation of their respective Caspian maritime borders on May 14, 2003.
Azerbaijan, together with Kazakhstan and Russia, agreed on the delimitation of the sea in early 2000. Turkmenistan and Iran, however, have not reached a consensus yet.
Once the Caspian states ratify the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea, signed on November 18, 2010 in Baku, a new impetus will be given for close cooperation between the sides.
Significant progress has been achieved in drafting a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea in September 2014. The convention might possibly be signed at the Kazakhstan summit this year.
The Caspian Sea is a home to 80-85 percent of the world’s sturgeon, which has lately been facing a sharp decline in population. 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. The unresolved issue of the legal status is damaging the flora and fauna of the unique water basin.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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