Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Caspian Summit Ends with No Legal Status Treaty

Division of Seabed Resources, Rich in Oil and Gas, Remains Contentious
Leaders of the Caspian Sea littoral states (Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan) held the 4th Caspian Summit in the Russian city of Astrakhan. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and creation of independent states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the five countries have been unable to strike a deal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, and on Monday failed again to reach an agreement. Discoveries of vast underwater oil and gas deposits in Caspian, however, have made the division of seabed resources the key element in any treaty defining its legal status, but there is no consensus on a convention. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the end of the summit that considerable progress had been made on the convention on the Caspian legal status, but offered no details. The summiteers, however, said they agreed to study a number of Caspian-centric projects, high among them constructing railways to connect the key Caspian ports.

“The work on preparing the convention on the Caspian Sea legal status is to be completed. I’m confident that we’ll be able to agree on the provisions that have not been coordinated yet and adopt the convention at the next summit,” Putin said. The Next meeting will be held in Kazakhstan at an unspecified date. (ITAR-TASS, 29 September) 

The Russo-Persian treaty of 1921 and Soviet-Iranian treaty of 1940 accept equality between the two countries. Equal right of navigation was granted to Persia in 1921, and the 1940 treaty regulates fishery, navigation, and commerce in the Caspian. 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and in the absence of a treaty, Russia has signed bilateral agreements with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan dividing the seabed in northern Caspian Sea on the basis of modified median line (MML). If the MML principle were to be applied to all five littoral states, Kazakhstan, which has the longest coastline, gets 30 percent of seabed resources, which also contains more than half the Caspian Sea’s oil and gas deposits. Russia and Azerbaijan get almost 20 percent each, Turkmenistan gets 17 percent, and Iran ends up with only 13 percent. It is believe that Iranian section would contain the least amount of oil and gas.

Iran has opposed such division and instead has called for equality of all five countries surrounding a geographic lake, not a sea; hence it has proposed that the seabed resources be divided in five equal shares of 20 percent each.

Top: Map of the Caspian Sea region

Bottom photo: The 4th Caspian Summit: Presidents Ibrahim Aliyev of Azerbaijan, Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan, and Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan. (ITAR-TASS/Radio Farda)


Anonymous said...

There should be no agreement made until the collapse of the islamic theocracy.The original agreement was 50/50 between the old Soviet Union and Imperial State of Iran.It is not Iran's problem when the soviet union collapsed.Iran should keep the original 50% and the rest should be shared between Baku puppet state and other ex-soviet union republics. We must not allow Russia to use Iran's present weakness under this regime and hand us with another Turkmenchay treaty.

Anonymous said...

The feasibility of Iran controlling 50% of the Caspian Sea is nonexistent, whether it's under this regime or any other. To believe Russia would agree to such a treaty is ridiculous - they won't care about the legality of it if it goes against their national interest - and it obviously goes without saying that neither would Azerbaijan, Turkmeninstan and Kazakhstan.

So Iran has a choice - strike a "fair" deal splitting the Caspian equally among the 5 countries or sour relations quite heavily with its neighbours (One of them being quite powerful.).

Nader Uskowi said...

The proposals on the table by Russia and other three republics would effectively give Iran 13% of seabed resources, and the geography of the Caspian is such that the section that would make up that 13% would contain absolutely the least amount of oil and gas. The only country that has proposed equal shares of 20% is Iran. Hence the impasse. So the debate among the Caspian Five is not between 50 and 20 percent, Iran has never brought up the idea of 50% anyway, but between 20 and 13 percent. If you look at Caspian as a sea, the MML convention applies and Iran will get 13% of the worst place. If Caspian is considered a lake, then it would be divided equally, with Iran getting 20% and some of the oil fields that would otherwise go to Azerbaijan.

Anonymous said...

What about Iran's national interest? Who cares if Russia agrees or not. Russia stole Baku and Azerbaijan from Iran with the Golestan treaty and then stole Turkmenistan from us with their Turkmenistan treaty.Why should Iran agree and receive only 12.5% while Baku puppet state and Turkmenistan receive much larger percentages? Russia is the real enemy of Iran.The best that this anti-Iran regime can do is to stall and not sign that unfair treaty until it is replaced by an Iranian regime that cares for Iran so that it can protect the 50% that belonged to it in the first place.Russia can't do a damn thing about it if Iran has better relations with the West and at the same time significantly improve its economy. During this time Iran can rebuild and move some of its military assets to the north and do some bear baiting and political brickmanship. We must let Russia and those petty dictatorships know that Iran means business.