Russia ratifies the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea – now it comes to Iran

Russia ratifies the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea – now it comes to Iran

Vladimir Putin has signed a federal law that ratifies the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, according to the official online database of legal information, the RIA Novosti informs.

The Convention was signed in Aktau on 12 August 2018. Turkmenistan was the first among five littoral states of the Caspian Sea to ratify the treaty. Parliament of Turkmenistan adopted a decree in December 2018.

Then, in January and February 2019, the “Constitution of the Caspian Sea” was ratified by Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, respectively. Now it comes to Iran to ratify the Convention.

In June this year, it was reported, that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was invited to a parliament session to discuss the Caspian Sea’s legal regime. However, the Iranian parliament postponed the discussion due to the busy schedule of the Iranian top diplomat.

Earlier, foreign media informed that the Iranian lawmakers have questions to the government and the Iranian foreign minister with respect to the Caspian Convention. However, experts believe that Tehran will have no problem in ratifying the treaty.

The Caspian Sea is the largest lake in the world. It is the world’s biggest enclosed inland water body due to its size and nature originality. It is the salt lake located on the southern border of Asia and Europe. Turkmenistan, Russia Kazakhstan, Iran, and Azerbaijan are the basin countries of this lake. The Caspian Sea has an “endorheic basin” as it has no outflows.

The Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea defines the regime of navigation and the collective use of the sea. Mechanisms for delimitation of territorial waters and fishery zones, delimitation of the Caspian Sea seabed and subsoil into sectors, terms and procedures for laying submarine cables and pipelines and other issues of cooperation between coastal States are determined.

Non-presence in the Caspian Sea of armed forces not belonging to the Parties is one of the main principles of the Convention.

An explanatory memorandum to federal law states that the Convention shall facilitate the relations of partners in the region to be more stable and predictable. Conditions for expanding cooperation in the areas of security, transport and navigation, fishery, exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources shall become more favorable.

Turkmenistan had a particular motivation to seek the soonest development and adoption of a convention, as the unsettled status of the Caspian was one of the obstacles to the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which could carry Turkmen gas across the Caspian seabed to Azerbaijan and then into Europe’s gas pipeline networks to Europe.

The adopted treaty allows the Parties lay trunk submarine cables and pipelines on the bed of the Caspian Sea, on the condition that their projects comply with environmental standards and requirements embodied in the international agreements to which they are parties. At the same time, the environmental component of pipeline projects in the Caspian Sea shall be determined by agreement with all five coastal states, regardless of whether pipeline crosses the Party’s seabed sector.

It is clear that under this condition and the current situation on the European gas market, it would take quite a long time the submarine pipelines in the Caspian Sea to be built. And yet, Ashgabat considers the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian a great political, diplomatic, economic and scientific success of the Caspian littoral states.

Nury AMANOV