ASTANA, July 13. /TASS/. The convention on legal status of the Caspian Sea may be signed in the first half of 2017, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press conference on Wednesday.
"We have worked very well. We made progress in several spheres. Several issues are left, and for the remaining issues, we should just find a way to correctly document the principles coordinated by the presidents," Lavrov said after the meeting of the foreign ministers of the "Caspian Quintet" (Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan).
"The bottom of the sea, as you know, is shared between neighboring countries. Russia has already made such agreements with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. The presidents also made a principal decision about demarcation of the bodies of water in Astrakhan in 2014, in accordance with which landmarks are established in territorial sovereign waters and fishing zones," he continued. "We think that it is absolutely realistic to plan on signing the convention in 2017. I think it can be done in the first half of 2016," he added.
Lavrov also said that experts will "intensively work in the next couple of months, and then we will define the role that can be played by the foreign ministers at this stages."
"I will also note that we agreed today to speed up cooperation on implementing the already existing sectoral agreements and try to prepare additional documents which will be up for discussion," the foreign minister continued. "We have agreements on cooperation in preventing emergencies and providing disaster relief. The mechanism is being established on reacting to natural and man-made disasters on the Caspian Sea," he said. "In October, all our partners will participate in joint drills of emergencies services together with us in the Astrakhan Region," he added.
Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov told a press conference the summit of the Caspian Five would be held next year.
"We have a common intention to sign the convention (on the legal status of the Caspian Sea). It should be done at the summit in Astana next year," Indrissov said.
"We have common understanding that the Caspian Sea is the sea of peace and cooperation where principles of equality should be in force," he added. "Complicated issues that require additional negotiations are aspects of laying communications on the bottom of the Caspian Sea, issues of deciding on the method of seabed demarcation - though we are talking about concrete technical aspects here, while the principle of seabed demarcation itself is not questions. The basis for it are fairness and taking into account mutual benefits," the foreign minister explained.
Another contentious issue is navigation and transit in the Caspian Sea. "We discussed them today, but additional expertise is required," he concluded.