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Caspian quintet’s foreign ministers to draft Aktau summit commuinique

On August 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will participate in the fifth Caspian summit

AKTAU /Kazakhstan/, August 11. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterparts from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will meet in Aktau on Saturday to discuss guidelines for the quintet’s further efforts and also final documents of the fifth Caspian summit to be held the next day.

As the Russian Foreign Ministry said the foreign ministers will summarize the activities of the special working group at the deputy foreign minister level and agree the modalities of further cooperation within the Caspian quintet after the signing of the convention on the legal status of the Caspian. Also, they will draft the draft communique the forthcoming summit is to adopt.

At the previous meeting of the Caspian countries’ foreign ministers in Moscow on December 2017 its participants drafted a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. Its adoption is expected to become the summit’s main result.

The foreign ministers will meet behind closed doors. It remains unclear if any bilateral meetings on the sidelines are due. Apparently, Lavrov may have quite a few themes for discussion with his counterparts, in particular, with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, such as the nuclear deal and the situation in Syria.

On August 12, Lavrov will participate in the fifth Caspian summit.

Caspian issue

The Caspian is a unique phenomenon from the standpoint of international law. It is a landlocked body of water not linked with the world ocean and for this reason it is not a sea, but by virtue of its size and special features of its water and seabed it cannot be considered a lake, either. For this reason, maritime law and rules adopted for trans-border lakes are not applicable to it.

In order to address the issue of delimitation of the Caspian’s bed and water areas the littoral states in 2002 for the first time held a summit in Ashgabat for determining its status. Sixteen years on the work is nearing completion.

It is expected that on the summit meeting’s agenda there will be six agreements on regional problems, drafted at the level of foreign ministers and their deputies. The use of subsoil reserves, security and ecology are in the focus of the Caspian quintet’s documents. Over the past sixteen years only nine agreements have been signed.

Seaside city

Traditionally the five littoral states hold summit meetings in seaside Caspian cities. This enables the participants to see for themselves what life in the Caspian regions of their neighbors is like.

Kazakhstan’s Aktau, selected as the venue for this year’s summit, is a city with a population of 180,000, whose residents greatly depend on the production and processing of Caspian resources. Before, it was a major atomic industry center. The Caspian literally keeps Aktau going - the city uses fresh water from the local desalination plant.