The long-term prospects for the development of the Caspian region mostly depend on geopolitical factors and the state of regional security. In this regard, it is important to pay attention to the fact that for many millennia the Caspian region has united ethnicities, civilizations and cultures. It is important to do everything possible to ensure that the tradition of dialogue continues to be a solid foundation for stable international relations in the region. The Caspian sea can and should become an example of more harmonious and fair relations between the countries in the XXI century.
The Caspian sea as a unique geopolitical region
The uniqueness of the Caspian region as a unique historical and geographical area of the millennial inter-civilizational and intercultural dialogue is one of the most important pillars of stable international relations in the Caspian region in the long term.
As you know, the Caspian region is at the junction of several macro-regions-the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East. There are numerous international trade, transport and energy corridors connecting East and West, North and South, Europe and Asia. Of course, this circumstance plays an important geopolitical role.
At the same time, the rich mineral resources of the Caspian sea are at the junction of geopolitical interests of both coastal and non-regional states. Nevertheless, in matters relating to the Caspian sea, the decisive word should be remain after the Caspian states.
It should also be noted that the Caspian sea is of great military and strategic importance. The Caspian countries have their own military fleets, build and modernize naval bases.
In addition, many aspects of trade, economic, investment, energy, transport and logistics development of the Caspian region are cross-border and cannot be solved by the efforts of individual States. Therefore, the constructive interaction of the Caspian countries is extremely important both for the region and for the whole world.
The Caspian sea as a space of multilateral cooperation
The highest point of effective cooperation of the Caspian States was the adoption of the historical Convention on the legal status of the Caspian sea in Aktau (August 12, 2018). This Convention, based on the principle of multilateral benefit, has laid a solid legal foundation for the cooperation of coastal countries in a wide range of areas and has defined the fundamental principles of each state’s activities. It eliminated international legal uncertainty and removed many barriers to regional cooperation.
Consensus has been reached on dividing the Caspian sea into zones with different regimes. Territorial waters with a width of 15 nautical miles have been established, and their external borders acquire the status of state waters. The territorial waters are bordered by 10-mile fishing zones, where each state has exclusive fishing rights. Outside the fishing areas there is a common water area. Each state exercises sovereign rights to subsoil use within the boundaries of its bottom sector.
Thanks to the division of the Caspian sea into zones with different regimes, the issues of cooperation in the sphere of economy, trade, investment, energy, transport and logistics, agriculture, ecology, tourism, etc. will be resolved more quickly and effectively.
This will be facilitated by the following agreed measures, such as regular meetings of the competent authorities of the Caspian countries; regular interaction of maritime administrations of coastal states with a view to effective and mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of maritime transport in the Caspian sea; planned consideration of issues to optimize tariff policy, improve transportation in the Caspian countries, etc.
The summit in Aktau and the regional security issues
It should be recognized that the V summit of the leaders of the Caspian States (12 August 2018, Aktau) significantly mitigated the risks and threats to the security of the Caspian region.
First, today there are political and legal conditions for the activities of all countries in the Caspian sea to be based on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-use of force and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. The Caspian sea should become a zone of peace, good-neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation and resolve all issues by peaceful means.
Secondly, it is important to ensure a stable balance of weapons in the Caspian sea, to carry out military construction within reasonable sufficiency, taking into account the interests of all parties, to observe the declared confidence-building measures in the sphere of military activities.
Third, thanks to the consensus on the non-presence of armed forces not belonging to the Parties in the Caspian sea, the military-political situation is becoming more stable. The intergovernmental Agreement on the prevention of incidents in the Caspian sea is also aimed at strengthening regional security.
Fourthly, today we have created favorable conditions and legal guarantees for freedom and safety of navigation in the Caspian sea. All Caspian countries are guaranteed free access from the Caspian sea to other seas and oceans.
Fifth, it has become possible to lay new trunk pipelines in the Caspian sea, as long as all environmental requirements are kept up.
Undoubtedly, these positive factors will contribute to the development of international trade, modernization of transport and logistics infrastructure, economic cooperation of the Caspian States, as well as the integration of the Caspian region into the global economy.
Sixth, the return of militants from Iraq and Syria to the territory of the Caspian States, the Protocols signed in Aktau on cooperation in the struggle against terrorism and organized crime in the Caspian sea, as well as on cooperation between border agencies are of particular relevance.
Equally important is the fact that the Caspian States have agreed that all issues that may arise in the future should be resolved on the basis of the Convention adopted in the act. As a result, a favorable geopolitical and geo-economic environment will gradually be formed in the vast space of the Caspian region, which corresponds to the long-term national interests of not only the Caspian, but also non-regional States.