Fifth Caspian Summit

Sunday, 12 August 2018 16:53

Vladimir Putin attended the Fifth Caspian Summit in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

he summit participants have considered key issues of cooperation in various spheres and discussed the implementation of the decisions taken at the previous meetings of the 'Caspian five.'

The heads of state have adopted the Convention On the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea and signed a number of intergovernmental documents.

Protocols have been signed on fighting terrorism and combating organised crime as they pertain to the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea of November 18, 2010, as well as the Protocol on Cooperation and Interaction of Border Services to the Agreement.

In addition, agreements have been signed between the governments of the Caspian states on trade and economic cooperation, cooperation in transport, as well as the Agreement on Prevention of Incidents in the Caspian Sea. The Communique of the Fifth Caspian Summit has been adopted.

The presidents of participating countries also made press statements.

* * *

Speech at the Fifth Caspian Summit

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Nazarbayev, colleagues, friends,

I agree with those colleagues who have spoken before me: this summit is indeed extraordinary, if not historic.

The Convention On the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, a document that we have been negotiating for over 20 years, at last formalises our exclusive rights and the responsibility each of us carries to protect the future of the Caspian Sea, and it establishes clear guidelines for its collective use.

I want to thank everybody involved in this major project, heads of state, negotiators and experts alike.

Based on consensus and consideration for our mutual interests, we have produced a modern and balanced international agreement. The convention will replace the Soviet-Iranian agreements of 1921 and 1940.

It is important that the Convention regulates the issues of necessary delimitations, regimes of navigation and fishing, establishes the principles of political and military interaction of member states, and ensures the use of the Caspian Sea solely for peaceful purposes and the non-presence of the armed forces of non-regional states in the sea.

Regulating the legal status of the Caspian Sea creates the necessary conditions for taking the level of cooperation between the countries to a brand new level and will serve to develop closer interaction in various areas. The six specialised agreements in the economic, transport and security areas that were signed today, among others, will provide the necessary legal foundation for this. It is Russia’s aim to work jointly with all Caspian states on the implementation of these agreements.

In particular, the agreement on economic cooperation in the Caspian region will serve as basis for paying priority attention to boosting regional, trade and economic ties, as well as enhancing close and mutually beneficial cooperation.

I should note that the volume of trade between Russia and the Caspian states constantly grows. In 2017, foreign trade increased by over 20 percent and amounted to $22 billion, while in January and February this year it grew by over 10 percent.

The decisions being adopted on establishing the Caspian economic forum will allow us to reinforce contacts between our countries' business communities.

Russia suggests that the 'Caspian five' states focus on cooperation in the digital economy, actively introducing information and communication technologies and e-commerce, and engaging in the digitisation of foreign trade operations, cargo transportation and logistics.

We expect that the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in transport in the Caspian region will serve to develop a common integrated infrastructure. Transport interconnection is one of the key factors for securing sustainable growth and strengthening our countries' cooperation.

In this regard, I would like to inform you that Russia has adopted and is currently implementing the Strategy for the Development of Marine Ports in the Caspian Sea until 2030. It defines the prospects for comprehensive modernisation of the Caspian sea communications and related railway and motor transport infrastructure.

In particular, there are plans to construct a new deep-water port near Kaspiysk that will receive large-capacity ships with actual loads of 15,000–25,000 tons.

We are taking strides to integrate Russia’s port capabilities into global and Eurasian transport and logistic networks, increase the competitiveness of cargo and passenger transportations, and multiply the volumes of processed cargo.

We support the project of the International North–South Transport Corridor, which provides for rail, ferry and automobile services, which we intend to develop.

Its launch will allow for a 2.5-fold increase in the speed of transporting cargo, which will amount to 25 million tonnes delivered annually via Iran from European countries to the Middle East and South Asia.

The development of a five-party agreement on cooperation in marine transport could go a long way in developing international transportation and providing equal unified conditions for transit across the Caspian Sea. Experts from the five countries can now more closely engage in drafting such an agreement.

I should note that tourism is a promising area of cooperation as well. According to available estimates, Caspian Sea resorts could receive over one million vacationers annually. Yet, this requires a modern tourism infrastructure.

Russia is building the cruise ship Pyotr Veliky (preliminary commissioning deadline is 2019), which, once built, can be used for circuit cruises in the Caspian Sea, stopping in all five Caspian states, and also carry out cruises in the Caspian and Black seas as well as in the Sea of Azov.

We also plan to boost the development of tourist clusters in coastal areas, building new hotels and recreation centres. The relevant authorities of the five countries should draw up a programme for such joint projects in tourism.

We deem it equally important for the Caspian states to interact in preserving the environment and biological resources. The five states already are successfully implementing a number of beneficial agreements, such as the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, Agreement on the Rational Use of the Biological Resources of the Caspian Sea, and the Protocol on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context.

These documents provide for strict environmental control over infrastructure projects that may create potential risks for the Caspian Sea.

Last year, a specialised intergovernmental commission of the 'Caspian five' adopted an important decision on extending a ban on commercial fishing of sturgeon. Russia welcomes the temporary ban on fishing for this valuable species and is ready to support a longer moratorium. It is advisable to quickly complete work on documents that will regulate our joint fight against poaching.

Colleagues, we are well aware of the responsibility of the Caspian states to provide security in the region. There are spots of instability in close proximity to the Caspian Sea, such as the Middle East and Afghanistan, and therefore our core interests and even life itself require that we cooperate closely.

It is important for the 'Caspian five' states to further boost consistent interaction in fighting terrorism and organised crime and to expand the joint efforts of our special services and border agencies. Corresponding protocols to the agreement on cooperation in security of 2010, to be signed today, are aimed at this.

Russia fully supports these decisions and is ready to actively engage in their implementation. In the future, we should also think about developing a separate document on cooperation to stop drug trafficking in the Caspian region.

We deem it important to develop partner relations in the area of our naval forces, in particular, to implement regular reciprocal visits of our ships, expand the mutual participation of ship crews in various events, such as the Sea Cup international competition as part of the International Army Games in the Caspian region.

The intergovernmental agreement on prevention of incidents in the Caspian Sea is very important, as it will considerably strengthen the system of confidence-building measures in the region.

Regular consultations as regards our countries' navies and regular meetings of our naval commanders could serve as an efficient mechanism of cooperation in this field.

And of course, joint efforts should be continued under the agreement on cooperation in emergency prevention and response.

Our rescue services hold joint exercises, and act out special scenarios of incidents and possible disasters to rehearse joint actions. This practice must undoubtedly be continued.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Nazarbayev for the major efforts Kazakhstan has made to prepare this important meeting.

Thank you for attention.

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