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Real breakthrough reached at 4th Caspian summit -- Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday agreed with his "Caspian Five" counterparts that a breakthrough has been reached at the 4th Caspian summit.

"We agreed on the principles of interaction," Putin said after the summit.

"This is a real breakthrough. Our experts worked on this much and long," he said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the documents, signed by the presidents of five Caspian littoral states (Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan), proved their political will towards developing cooperation.

Vladimir Putin's assessment of the summit results

According to Vladimir Putin, the parties succeeded in achieving progress in preparing the convention on the Caspian legal status "due to the coordination of key principles of the Caspian littoral states' activity at sea".

These principles have been reflected in a political statement that has been just signed by the leaders of five littoral states. The political statement "will become a cornerstone of the convention". "I don't say that all problems have been settled in full. But their number has become far fewer," Putin said.

The summiteers managed to get over to clear formulations on the delimitation of water spaces, the bottom and resources, the regime of navigation and fisheries, Putin said.

"The provision saying that the most part of the Caspian Sea water area is used by all parties is very significant. Due to all these facts misunderstanding or any tension in interstate relations are ruled out. Earlier, such problems could emerge due the different interpretation of the Caspian Sea regime," he said.

The statement confirms one of the fundamental principles for ensuring security and stability - only the littoral states' armed forces have the right of military activity in the Caspian Sea. "Such regime was historically established. We're not going to change it," Putin said.

The five littoral states intend to solve all problems of the Caspian region exclusively among themselves, he said.

Railroad around the Caspian Sea

According to Vladimir Putin, Russia believes the project to create a railroad ring around the Caspian is promising.

"The task is to connect the key Caspian ports, which will substantially reduce the time and cost of cargo transportation, which means it will increase the competitiveness of our economies," Putin said.

Priority in the sphere is given to the North-South Transport Corridor that will make it possible to link Western and Northwestern Europe with South Asia countries via Russia, the Caspian basin and Iran, he said.

"All five Caspian countries are involved in the project; its implementation will make it possible to half transportation distances compared to the existing route," Putin said.

"Another idea is to create a railroad ring around the Caspian," Putin said.

"By the yearend, there are plans to complete construction of the 'Oriental semi-ring between Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran, this work is nearly completed; in 2016, work on the 'Western semi-ring Azerbaijan-Iran' will be completed," he said.

The Russian leader said such multi-partner projects demand constant organizational support.

"So we agreed with partners to think of creating a five-party structure that would address relevant issues," he said.

Emergency prevention and response agreement

The five Caspian states signed an emergency prevention and response agreement.

The document was signed by the emergencies ministers of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan in the presence of their heads of state.

It calls for joint efforts to prevent and respond to emergencies in the Caspian region.

Russia will decide on the provision of aid to other Caspian states on a case by case basis.

Caspian Sea legal status

Russian president also noted considerable progress in preparing the convention on the Caspian Sea legal status.

"I consider progress in preparations for the convention on the Caspian Sea legal status one of the major results [at the Caspian summit in Astrakhan]," Putin said.

"Experts have been instructed to step up consultations in several remaining aspects. There are grounds for believing that in the near future we'll get over to the signing of the convention. So we're successfully completing the work that has been lasting for 18 years," he said.

Resources of the Caspian

The Caspian sea is a unique water area in terms of its bio and ecological resource, which includes more than 500 kinds of sea plants and 854 kinds of fish species, including the Caspian sturgeon which accounts for 90% of the world stock of sturgeon fish.

A predicted amount of Caspian hydrocarbon resources has been estimated at around 18 billion tons, with the proved reserves put at four billion tons, which brings the Caspian Sea to second position after the Persian Gulf in the rating of the world biggest oil and gas reserves.

The first Caspian summit was held in Ashgabat in 2002; the second one five years later in Tehran, and a third one in Baku in November 2010. After Astrakhan, the baton of Caspian summits will pass on to Kazakhstan.

[Source: Itar Tass, Astrakhan, 29Sep14]

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