AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Text of report by the website of pro-government Russian newspaper Izvestiya on 26 November
[Oleg Tsyganov, Shamil Medzhdov, Aleksandr Kagavayev interview with Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov, time and place not given: "Sea of new possibilities - Having surmounted differences and mistrust, Caspian countries may make joint breakthrough into the future"]
Over thousands of years of human history, the Caspian Sea has seen the rise and fall of many leaders, superpowers and states - from Asia to Europe. A qualitatively new stage has now begun: due to the existence of contemporary technological capabilities, the huge economic potential of the sea may serve as a powerful platform for the unprecedented prosperity of the region. And a peaceful and universal prosperity, without prejudice to any of the countries. For two empires - of Russia and Iran (Persia) - the Caspian has since the middle of the 19th century been a distinctive and inexhaustible base for their external development. But there has perhaps not yet been a period when this region - a historic meeting-place of the civilizations, when their hinterland has literally been of interest to the entire world. Such is the level of the inter-penetration of interests today, the level of globalization.
People in the West often debate the Caspian basin in terms of geo-political categories, it is seen as the northern boundary of the Larger Near East, quite stable and developing. But the Caspian is not only the focus point of outside interests. First and foremost, it is a home and a yard, and is frequently also the breadbasket for the peoples and states, which have direct access to the shores of this sea. This is particularly true for Azerbaijan. It faces open sea with the widest (longest) stretch of coastline proportionate to other Caspian countries. The development of the country and the capital Baku is directly dependent on the state of marine resources, the legal terms governing activities, and the safety levels on this stretch of water. In the article published, we will try to talk not only about Azerbaijan's tasks on the Caspian Sea, but also about other development strategies, inherent in the other countries of the Caspian "five". We will show how issues relating to the legal status and sectoral division of the sea are being resolved; tasks related to the development of transport communications; matters of military development and security; and finally, we will consider the problems of ecology and describe the potential for tourist business.
We talked to Azerbaijan's Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov. He kindly agreed to answer our questions. We have illustrated this article with our questions and his answers.
I. Legal status of Delimiting the Subsurface and the Water Areas
There are no ordinary problems in world politics, but the situation surrounding the settlement of the legal status of the Caspian Sea looks particularly complicated since several dimensions are present here simultaneously. On the one hand, the problem is quite new, that is, it was born of the collapse of the Soviet Union and is part of the process of dividing up the Soviet legacy. Each of the participants in this process is fumbling to find their path and naturally wants to get the most they can. On the other hand, while the former Soviet republics are in general agreeing to make concessions to one another (many issues have been settled between Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan), the position of Iran, which is aiming to get compensation for past restrictions on its economic activities in the Caspian during the Soviet period, is more rigid.
[Interviewer] Negotiations on defining the legal status of the Caspian Sea have been underway, it might be said, since the moment the Soviet Union collapsed and the new independent states emerged. What, in your opinion, is the basic essence of this process and can we assume that the countries on the shore are now much closer to the resolution of the Caspian problems, than 10-15 years ago?
[Khalaf Khalafov] The negotiations process has a solid base. A permanent special working group at the level of deputy foreign ministers was set up at a foreign ministers' meeting in Ashgabat in 1996, and from the very first days of its operation it started to draw up a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. The 26th session of the working group took place at the start of November this year also in Ashgabat. Over the past 13 years the positions of the sides have moved closer on many aspects of the legal status. The signing of an agreement between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia on the delimitation of the Caspian seabed represented significant progress and a new stage in the negotiations process. It laid the foundation for regulatory and legal consolidation of the sectoral delimitation of the Caspian Sea between the states on its shores.
A framework convention for the protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea has been adopted. We are now working on the adoption of additional protocols to this convention in various spheres of environmental protection. The countries on the Caspian's shores are cooperating on the basis of the convention and solving the corresponding problems associated with the ecology of the Caspian Sea. Alongside this, bilateral negotiations are becoming conducted between the countries on the Caspian shore regarding the continued delimitation of the Caspian seabed between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan and Iran. I think that both the bilateral and the multilateral negotiations are, on the whole, directed towards achieving general accords on the …