Caspian Sea's indefinite legal status hampering TASIM project

14 July 2014 16:04 (UTC+04:00)

By Aynur Jafarova

The Caspian Sea's indefinite legal status is hampering a project to construct the underwater segment of Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM).

The news was announced by Executive Director for Infrastructure Projects of Kazakhstan's KazTransCom Alexander Kislitsin, on July 14.

He told Trend Agency that there were still problems on border crossing, and no final decision has been made yet.

"Kazakh Foreign and Communications Ministries believe that progress is possible in the area. There are legal provisions that will allow us safely cross the sea border. As for the five-sided agreement [on the legal status of the Caspian Sea], it has not been reached yet. it will set a precedent in legal practices and this is embarrassing," he said.

The legal status of the Caspian Sea is still a matter of discussion among the littoral states. Three of five littoral states-Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia agreed on the delimitation of the sea in early 2000 but the other littoral states -Turkmenistan and Iran- have not reached a consensus yet.

Kisiltsin went on to add that in the coming months, the representatives of the five Caspian littoral states will sit for talks to determine whether the Caspian is lake or sea.

He also noted there have been certain positive developments since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in December, 2013. Since then the information background has been improved in Kazakhstan that will allow the project develop faster.

"Creation of an information background allowed many to learn about the project. Many began to be interested in the relations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, as without raising public awareness we can not implement this project, which is directly aimed at end-users," Kisiltsin noted.

The TASIM project envisions the creation of a major transit link from Frankfurt to Hong Kong. The line will connect the major centers of information exchange in Europe and Asia together, stretching through China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Germany. A reserve North transit line will traverse the territory of Russia, Ukraine, and Poland.

A Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the TASIM consortium was signed within the framework of the 19th international exhibition and conference BakuTel-2013, which was held in December in Baku.

In September 2013, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution supporting Azerbaijan's initiative on establishment of Eurasian Connectivity Alliance (EuraCA) and construction of TASIM.

TASIM will be implemented in two stages. The project is expected to come on stream at the cost of $100 million. The length of TASIM will amount to 11,000 kilometers and its initial network bandwidth will reach 2 Tbit/s.