By Bahman Aghai Diba, PhD International Law of the Sea
Caspian Sea Countries:
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan
Recently, representative of Iran in the 47th session of the forgiven ministers of the Caspian Sea littoral States repeated Iran's positions about the legal status of the Caspian Sea once again. These were positions that have been heard for the last many years from Iranian officials in various levels (including the summit conferences of the Caspian heads of states), and yet there is no indication that any other littoral country tends to accept them. At the same time, there are many indications that they are moving towards different set of positions. The gist of those positions is that, despite the long history of Iran's presence as a littoral state of the Caspian Sea, the newly established countries of the region, including the Russian Federation that has replaced the collapsed USSR, are not ready to accept equal rights for Iran in the Caspian Sea.
The positions that were mentioned by the representative of Iran, in a nutshell, were:
However, a look at the situation in the region reveals that the littoral states of the Caspian Sea are moving in a different direction. No other state of the Caspian Sea, including and especially Russia, is accepting the main points of the said positions (such as the limitation of boundaries according to equity, unanimous decision making, and refraining from militarization of the region). The Caspian littoral states do not share the same views on the validity of the previous agreements, and the legal regime stemming from them. They have different interpretations about the nature and methods of gaining the long-term, comprehensive and all-encompassing interests. In fact, due to the following reasons:
The long period of time that has passed since the problem of finding a new legal status for the Caspian Sea emerged (after the collapse of the former USSR).
Have led the littoral states of the Caspian Sea to:
In the light of these points, moving towards the "Sea of peace, friendship and stability" in the region is not compatible with the realities. The draft for the convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, which has been the subject of countless meetings of the littoral states, lacks the articles related to the points that there is no agreement on them.
Under these circumstances, it seems that the littoral states other Iran, are
waiting for a fundamental change in positions of Iran, perhaps with some
persuasion from the Russians. They want Iran eventually to accept the smallest
portion of the Caspian seabed on the basis of the modified median line (the
Russian formula to divide the Caspian seabed according to the length of each
country's coast and leaving the superjacent waters for common use of the
littoral states). Iran is left without allies and friends in the Caspian Sea.
Iran has close ties with the Russians that are even becoming more extensive due
to the bad relations of the two countries with the Western world. However, in
the Caspian Sea, positions of Russians are against the interests of Iran.
About the author:
Bahman A Diba, PhD International Law of the Seas, is the author of several books. His latest books were published in 2011:
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