Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the TV and Radio Complex of the President of Kazakhstan for the film “The Aktau Summit: Caspian Culmination,” Aktau, August 12, 2018

Tuesday, 14 August 2018 11:33

Question: Mr Lavrov, the convention has been signed. We would like to know your opinion about the historical importance of the Aktau summit.

Sergey Lavrov: The presidents of the five countries all highly praised it in their statements for the press. The words “historical” and “epochal” were used and this is no exaggeration. The work took practically 22 years and it was not easy. Initially, there were polar positions on whether this was even a sea or a lake. If it’s a sea, let’s apply to the Caspian Sea all rules of conduct in the world oceans in line with the so-called 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. If it’s a lake, there is no need to agree on anything. Eventually, a desire to come to terms prevailed.

Diametrically opposed approaches were gradually reframed in a more constructive way. I am very pleased to say that it was in Moscow in December 2017 that the foreign minister meeting of the five Caspian countries hammered out the final language of the convention that was signed by the presidents today. Difficult work had to be done since December. It was necessary to ensure the texts were accurate in all languages of the Caspian countries and in English, which will be a common reference point in case there are issues related to the convention’s interpretation.

The fact that the convention has determined the legal status of the Caspian Sea is of decisive importance. It has laid the foundations to reach a final agreement on outstanding issues, including the water’s delimitation and methods to be used for determining the reference mark of 15 mile sovereign waters. It’s the main point. Once this is done it will be easier to define a 10 mile fishing zone for each country.

Secondly, the convention has created an absolutely universal basis for discussing any cooperation issues in the Caspian Sea. Until recently we had agreements on protecting biological resources, security in some other areas, but it is enough to note that seven international legal documents have been signed in Aktau. During the entire history of the Caspian summits - four summits in all since 2002 - nine documents were signed as compared to seven documents at one summit. Importantly, this is an achievement not only in quantity but also in quality. There is no need to repeat that the convention is a truly historical event. No less important are the intergovernmental agreements on trade and economic cooperation and transport. Moreover, in each area the formation of a permanent mechanism at the level of the relevant minister is envisaged. The participants also signed intergovernmental agreements on preventing incidents in the Caspian Sea. The military and border troops will be in charge of this. This is yet another important detail of the summit and its results. Three intergovernmental protocols have been signed - on countering terrorism and organised crime and improving cooperation of the border services.

This summit set an absolute record in the history of all inter-Caspian talks. I would like to sincerely congratulate the host of the summit, the Republic of Kazakhstan, and all Caspian nations. And I would like to express special gratitude to the negotiators that made such a result possible by their truly professional work at the very highest level. 

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