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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Caspian Sea leaders sign declaration
Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN -- The Caspian Sea littoral states summit on Tuesday released a declaration on major regional and international issues.
Following is an excerpt of the declaration:
The Caspian Sea littoral states will make efforts to reinforce peace, stability, economic development, and good neighborliness in the region. The sides will have equal rights in international cooperation and are determined to boost relations in political, diplomatic, economic, scientific, technical, cultural, and social spheres.
The sides will make attempts to efficiently utilize the Caspian Sea’s rich resources and expand economic cooperation, particularly in the energy and transportation areas.
The sides hereby announce that only Caspian Sea littoral countries are allowed to use the resources of the sea.
The sides believe that the Caspian Sea legal regime convention is authorized to determine the Caspian Sea legal regime, which can only be approved through the littoral states’ consensus.
The current shipping and fishing regimes will be implemented under the flag of the bordering states, pending the final approval of the Caspian Sea legal regime.
The sides agree that the Caspian Sea legal regime should be drafted as soon as possible.
Final agreement on the seabed demarcation will be reached by all bordering states with respect to the legal rights and interests of each country.
The sides stress the importance of the expansion of cooperation for resolving Caspian Sea environmental problems, harmonizing national activities for its environment protection, and cooperating with international organizations for the protection of marine biodiversity.
The Caspian Sea should only be used for peaceful purposes and any problems related to the sea should be resolved diplomatically by the littoral states.
The sides will make efforts to develop mutual trust and reinforce regional security. They will also avoid using military force in mutual relations.
The sides agree that they will never launch a military attack against any of the littoral states.
The sides reiterate that they will not let any country use their soil for a military attack against other littoral states.
The sides believe that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is one of the most important foundations of international peace and stability. The sides confirm that all signatories to the NPT have the right to generate and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes within the framework of the NPT and the International Atomic Energy Agency Statute.
Caspian states are only true owners of the sea
All the Caspian nations agree that the sea’s issues should be settled exclusively by the littoral states, and only those countries should be allowed to deploy ships and military forces in the sea, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said in his address at the 2nd Conference of Caspian Sea Littoral States.
Ahmadinejad welcomed the presidents of the four other Caspian Sea states, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, saying, “Iran is the second home of all of you, and your participation in this conference is a sign of unity, friendship, and good neighborliness among our peoples and governments.”
The first Caspian Sea summit was held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in 2002.
In the five years since the first conference, the littoral states have reached a greater understanding and their viewpoints have begun to converge, the Iranian president observed.
The Caspian states are the only true owners of the sea, and currently there is a common understanding in the talks that makes all of the countries optimistic about their future and outcome, he added.
In the economic realm, the Caspian Sea has a great potential to pave the way for the expansion of cooperation among coastal states, he noted.
Iran suggests that a framework with economic objectives should be established to facilitate economic and trade cooperation between the littoral countries, he said, adding that the fact that the Caspian Sea is located on the North-South Corridor provides fertile ground for the expansion of cooperation.
It is clearly necessary for the five countries to cooperate to maintain security and stability in the Caspian region, prevent foreign intrusions, and deal with organized crime, and this requires the establishment of a regional organization in the near future, Ahmadinejad stated.
“I suggest that all cultural, artistic, and tourism collaboration should be expanded,” and this will promote regional peace, he said.
The signing of the Tehran Convention on the protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea shows that all littoral states consider the protection of the environment an important matter, he added.
Considering the great energy reserves in the area and the coastal countries’ facilities for transferring oil and gas, collective cooperation for exploration and transferal is the shortest and most economical way to use the energy, which will be in the best interests of all the littoral states, he pointed out.
In his speech to the conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed issues pertaining to comprehensive security and stability in the region, including “security of navigation, the protection of oil and gas production facilities, and the joint campaign against international terrorism and extremism.”
He pointed to specific initiatives, such as the draft stability pact proposed by Kazakhstan, and Iran's initiative to draft an agreement on confidence and stability measures.
He also mentioned Russia’s proposal to set up a joint naval group for strategic cooperation on the Caspian Sea, to be named CasFor.
Among other things, Russia has proposed building a canal as soon as possible to connect the Caspian Sea to the Black and Azov seas to help establish the North-South Corridor, he said.
Commenting on the draft declaration that was later adopted at the summit, he said, “We acknowledge the need to solve a number of key issues… considering our interests and maintaining sovereignty, and refraining from any use of force.”
The Caspian states could develop oil and gas resources under the seabed using existing national zones for mineral use, which have already been defined in the northern part of the sea, he stated.
“We believe that in the southern Caspian also, interested parties will be able to find a balanced and mutually acceptable solution. To reach an agreement on delimiting the seabed for mineral use, there is no need to wait for a convention to be drawn up on its legal status, we can act in a five-way format,” he added.
The Russian president also responded to the threatening language being used by extra-regional countries.
No Caspian nation should offer its territory to third powers for use of force or military aggression against any Caspian state, Putin said.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev stated that the convention should be finalized as soon as possible, and the dialogue between the countries should be sped up.
Borders should be defined for the sea, and biological resources should be divided between the littoral countries, he said.
“The previous agreements between Iran and the Soviet Union belong to history now,” he added.
Kazakhstan emphasized the necessity of defining a five-sided mechanism for coming to agreements on military and defense issues.
In his speech to the summit Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stressed the necessity of protecting the biological resources and environment of the Caspian Sea.
""I believe that the Tehran summit and the declaration we will adopt here will be a turning point in the development of cooperation between Caspian states in all fields and in insuring stability and peace in the region, and that the Caspian will become a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation,” he said.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow said he was optimistic about Caspian states’ cooperation and the agreements made by the five countries on ecology, shipping, tourism, and the use of hydrocarbon reserves.
Turkmenistan obeys the rules, and in the future it will take steps to help in the process of finalizing the legal regime of the Caspian Sea, he added.
Caspian Sea will remain a sea of peace and friendship
“The Caspian Sea will always be the sea of peace and friendship among the littoral states,” Ahmadinejad said at a joint press conference of Caspian Sea leaders here on Tuesday.
He announced that the third summit of the Caspian Sea littoral states will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2008, and a joint economic conference will be held in Moscow next year.
The presidents of the five Caspian Sea littoral countries agreed to meet every year, and their foreign ministers will meet every six months, he added.
Asked about the propaganda campaign against the conference, Ahmadinejad stated that the declaration that was signed at the end of the conference was a robust response to those countries that were opposed to the meeting.
“This was a successful meeting, and we are all determined to make the Caspian Sea the sea of friendship,” he emphasized.
This region can serve as a model for cooperation in the world, he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that the Iran-Russia nuclear cooperation is for peaceful purposes.
The countries have “expressed the idea that peaceful nuclear activities must be allowed,” Putin said, reiterating that Iran should be allowed to pursue its nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
Russia is the only country helping Iran to construct a nuclear power station for peaceful ends, he added, referring to the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
Putin also stated, “We have agreed that only vessels sailing under Caspian countries’ flags can use the Caspian Sea.”
The Azerbaijani president told reporters that Caspian Sea issues have been extricated from an impasse.
The material for the convention on a legal regime for the sea will be ready by next year, Aliyev said.
The Turkmen president told reporters that the signing of the trilateral agreement between Iran, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan on the construction of a railway linking the three countries was an important step taken at the conference.
Berdimuhammedow stated that the Caspian Sea is a sea of cooperation, but added that there are, of course, still unresolved issues.
The Kazakh president said, “There is no irresolvable discord between us; we have defined a convention on security and peace in the Caspian Sea that will be finalized at the next conference in Baku.”
This meeting was an important leap for efforts to maintain peace and security and to develop economic cooperation among Caspian states, Nazarbayev noted