20 August, 2018

Convention regulates the whole range of issues related to use of Caspian Sea — expert

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The Aktau summit of the Caspian states will go down in history as a landmark event, at which a fundamentally important historic agreement on the status of the Caspian Sea was reached. Correspondents of PrimeMinister.kz spoke with the Ambassador at Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Zulfiya Amanzholova about the importance of the adopted Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea.

In a statement for the media following the Fifth Caspian Summit, President Nursultan Nazarbayev described the Convention as the constitution of the Caspian Sea. This is the fundamental document based on which the coastal states will build their relations in all spheres of cooperation.

According to Zulfiya Amanzholova, the Convention 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.

"The issues of delimitation of the water area were clarified. 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. Fisheries will be implemented on the basis of agreed national quotas. Outside the fishing zones, the common water area is preserved. Freedom of navigation for vessels flying the flags of coastal countries will operate outside the sea borders," said Amanzholova.

It should be noted that at the summit the presidents of the Caspian countries agreed to put specific tasks to their ministries of foreign affairs in order to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. As Amanzholova noted, the foreign ministries were instructed to form a high-level group on the Caspian Sea issues. The task of this group for the near future is the development and coordination of an Agreement on the Methodology for Establishing Direct Baselines in the Caspian Sea.

The heads of state also agreed on the need to develop an Agreement on Confidence-Building Measures in the Caspian Sea. This agreement should serve the common goals of ensuring peace and stability in the region. The Presidents set the task for the negotiating teams of the coastal states to complete the work on the Agreement aimed at countering the illegal fishing of the biological resources of the Caspian Sea. Among the important documents signed at the summit, there are the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Caspian States, as well as the Agreement on Transport Cooperation.

Zulfiya Amanzholova told about the benefits of the adoption of the Convention for Kazakhstan.

"We have defined our state border along the entire perimeter of the territory, that is, if Kazakhstan had legally designed land borders before the signing, the Convention allows Kazakhstan to determine the limits of sovereignty and at sea," the expert said.

As for the question of delineation of the Caspian seabed for subsoil use, according to the document, each state implements sovereign rights for subsoil use within its bottom sector.

By now, the seabed and subsoil of the Caspian in its northern and central parts have been delineated. Kazakhstan signed the corresponding agreement with Russia in 1998, and also the Protocol to it in 2002. The delimitation of the seafloor between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan was fixed in the 2001 Agreement and its Protocol in 2003. There is also a 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 bottom is secured by the 2014 Agreement.

"After defining the point of junction of the lines of delimitation for the bottom sections in the trilateral format, with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, we can state the completion by our state of the legal registration of the boundaries of sovereign rights to subsoil use in the Caspian Sea," Amanzholova explained.

In addition, serious attention was paid to environmental issues at the Summit.

As the Ambassador for Special Assignments of the Foreign Ministry noted, the positions were the closest to the sides from the very beginning of the talks on this issue. This allowed to harmonize the provisions related to environmental aspects for a long time. On the basis of general approaches to the preservation of the Caspian Sea’s natural environment, the parties concluded a framework convention on the protection of the natural environment of the Caspian Sea in 2003, the so-called Tehran Convention. According to the Aktau Convention, any activity that damages biodiversity is prohibited in the Caspian Sea. The parties also agreed on the rules for the implementation of scientific research in the Caspian Sea.

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