By Bahman Aghai Diba, PhD international Law
Iran first suggested the establishment of Caspian Cooperation Organization in February 1991 following the collapse of the former USSR and creation of several independent new states in the coasts of the Caspian Sea. The idea was discussed among the littoral states but facing serious opposition from the Azerbaijan Republic, it was not followed later. Now, at the verge of the new summit conference of the Caspian states, which is planned for September 2014 in Russia, the Iranian government has proposed the establishment of “Caspian Economic Cooperation Organization”.
Iranian government’s political intentions in proposing such organizations are evident. They want to enjoy the support of others in keeping the non-littoral states, especially the Western powers out of the region. The other littoral states, even Russia is not ready to play a serious role in the plans of Iranian government. The same thing has happened to the big suggestions of Iran in other international organizations such as the plan for dialogue of civilizations in the UN, and the proposal for establishment of a common force in the Shanghai Organization and the similar ones in the Organization of Islamic States, Arab League and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO replacement of RCD) in the region. .
The main problem for establishment of such organizations is the misperception of the regime in Iran. The proposal of such extensive cooperation and coalition by a regime that lacks international and regional prestige and credibility indicates to the over estimation of the Iranian regime about its status in the international forums. In the case of Dialogue of Civilizations, the welcoming on international community from the proposal of Iran regime was due to the impression that it was good to see the Islamic clerics dominating the government in Iran and ruling this country through a religious dictatorship that disregards the rights of its minorities and the one that intervenes in the affairs of other countries to impose its own version of the religion, is talking about the concept of peace and tolerance and respect of international diversity. Otherwise, the notion of such issues has been mention countless times in the thousands of international documents including the Charter of the UN and its specialized agencies. In the case of other organizations that were mentioned, the level of trust and inclination of cooperation or even being indentified with a regime like the Iranian regime in these places is a serious stumbling block to reach such positions.
In the case of the Caspian Economic Cooperation Organization, until such time that the legal regime of the Caspian Sea is no defined and the littoral states have not reached a commonly agreed formula to decide who owns what in the Caspian Sea, establishment of such organizations is not possible and even it is useless.
The general trend in the policies of the newly established states in the shores of the Caspian Sea (Republic of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) is towards expansion of ties with the West. They look for investment and technology from the Western sources. At the same time, having experience a negative history if living under the Russian domination, they now welcome any move that gets them far away from the Russians and close to the West.
Republic of Azerbaijan is almost an ally of the US and West and it has very good relations with Israelis. Turkmenistan is looking forward to making commercial deals with the West and attract the Western tourists to its Caspian coasts. Kazakhstan is trying to stop repeating of what happened in Georgia and Ukraine. It has extensive contracts with the Western oil and gas companies to explore and exploit its parts of the Caspian Sea that reach almost 30 percent of the entire Caspian Sea according to the formulas that tend to divide the Caspian Sea on the basis of the coast lines.
Also, the other reason for the lack of interests in such organizations is the non-compatibility of the economic systems and needs of these countries. They all export raw materials and import manufactured goods of others. They have no interests to open their markets to the low quality items produced in Iran or Russia and they prefer the cheap Chinese alternatives to them.
Apparently, the regime of Iran, due to the fact that it is not really able to safeguard the rights of this country in the Caspian Sea, and it is constantly taking a passive stances in front of the disregard of Iran’s historical rights in the Caspian Sea by other countries, especially Russia (which is the main supporter of dividing the Caspian Sea in the absolute loss of Iran), is hiding behind such proposals for propaganda purposes.
... Payvand News - 03/25/16 ... --