An international economic forum Caspian Dialogue-2011 was launched on April 18 in Moscow, Russia, Itar Tass reported. High on the agenda of the forum is "the policy of the Caspian regional countries in the mineral resources and the Caspian legal status,” the forum organizing committee said.
Alongside, the forum is planning to discuss “the development of the regional transport infrastructure, the construction of energy-efficient houses, information technologies, the development of the fishery industry and the restoration of biological diversity.”
The forum is held under the support from the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology, the Russian Academy of Sciences. The forum will bring together public servants, diplomats, scientists and experts from the Caspian littoral states, the CIS and European countries.
Russian presidential envoy for delimitation and demarcation of the Russian border with neighboring CIS countries Alexander Golovin, the deputy chief of the Russian Fisheries Agency Alexander Fomin, Iranian Ambassador in Russia Seyyed Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi, officials from Russian and foreign oil and gas companies and associations, including Lukoil, Gazprom Zarubezhneftegaz and others were invited to attend the forum.
A Caspian energy forum will be a separate event. The forum will discuss the prospecting, production and supplies of hydrocarbons and electric power from the region and joint projects in this sphere.
An unclear legal status of the Caspian Sea remains one of the major problems in the relations between the Caspian littoral states (Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan). The Caspian littoral states agreed that a Caspian legal status convention should be signed, because the lack of a clear Caspian legal status hampers the energy projects and prompts the Caspian littoral states to redirect their energy exports to Asia, primarily to China.
Unless the convention enters into force the 1921 and 1940 Soviet-Iranian agreements remain in effect. The agreements set the rules for a free navigation and fishing, but do not regulate the issues of subsoil use and environment protection.
Meanwhile, the bilateral agreements are in effect between Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Under the agreements the Caspian Sea bottom and mineral resources are subjected to delimitation (on the median line principle) and the water surface remains in common use.
Alongside, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia signed an agreement on the delimitation of adjacent sections of the Caspian Sea in 2003. The trilateral agreement determined the legal status of more than 60% of natural resources in the Caspian Sea.
The 3rd Caspian summit was a breakthrough in November 2010. The Caspian littoral countries agreed that the Caspian legal status negotiations should be accelerated and a Caspian legal status convention should be ready for signing by a next Caspian summit in Russia.
In this respect, the leaders of the Caspian littoral countries decided to instruct the agencies concerned to discuss within three months and agree on the width of national maritime zones to 24-25 nautical miles, including the water space (the second disputable issue is the rules to ban sturgeon fishing), after that an expert working group was to have a meeting.
Caspian Sea from space (NASA, 2003) -- see high resolution
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