Rouhani hails signing of Caspian treaty, says key issues still remain

TEHRAN, Aug. 12 (MNA) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani deemed the signing of the Caspian Sea treaty as a great step toward enhancing cooperation among littoral states, but added that some key issues still remain to be addressed in separate agreements.

Speaking on Sunday at Caspian Sea Littoral States Summit in Kazakhstan, President Hassan Rouhani said: “Today, this region has turned into a successful model for guaranteeing peace, stability, friendship, good neighbourliness and progress and this summit is another step toward more convergence in the region that needs to be strengthened by taking further steps."

He then described Caspian Sea Legal Regime Convention as a very important step towards enhancing more convergence among the Caspian Sea littoral states and emphasised that the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its maritime access in the north and south, is prepared to play a strategic and regional role for development of trade and transportation.

President Hassan Rouhani’s address is as follows:

I am truly happy that we are witnessing the Fifth Caspian Sea Littoral States Summit on the International Day of Caspian Sea in the beautiful coastal city of Aktau. I would also like to appreciate the warm and friendly hospitality of my dear friend and brother, Mr, Nursultan Nazarbayev, honourable President of Kazakhstan.

After the collapse of former Soviet Union, cooperation between the Caspian Sea littoral states started through the signing of “Tehran Environment Convention” and it included a 25-article statement as the first political document signed between the five countries. In today’s historical meeting, we will witness the signing of Caspian Sea Legal Regime Convention that will put emphasis on sovereignty, sovereign rights, eligibility and monopoly of the right to decide on the sea. Legally speaking, this is a major document that monitors all rights and responsibilities of Caspian Sea littoral states. Of course, the formulation of the technical details will be postponed to other separate agreements.

In this convention, important principles have been mentioned such as emphasis on the prohibition of the presence of foreign armed forces and monopoly of any kind of navigation merely with the flags of the five littoral states, the prohibition of allowing foreigners to use the territories of the littoral states for acts of aggression against another littoral state.

Caspian Sea belongs to all its littoral states and any kind of formation and handing over military bases to foreign countries and the passage of warships and even transit of foreign military transit shipments belonging to a country other than Caspian Sea littoral states is forbidden.

Today, although a major step has been taken, we should admit that by the signing of this convention, still important issues remain unresolved in the Caspian Sea, in addition to the fact that the final adoption of the convention is contingent upon following the legal procedures in the five littoral states. I therefore deem it necessary to mention the articles of 1921 and 1940 treaties between Iran and the former Soviet Union and emphasise that in the Legal Regime Convention of the Caspian Sea, the confines of the seabed have not been determined and this will be done in an agreement by the parties later. Furthermore, regarding the status of the coasts of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is clear that that the aim of the third paragraph of the section regarding the definition of straight baseline asserted in Article 1 of this convention is directed at the special status of Iran’s shores. Of course, this convention states that the method of drawing the straight baselines must be determined in a separate agreement by all parties to the convention.

Therefore, negotiations for the final agreement in the field of defining limits and determining the methods of drawing baselines must continue until we reach an agreement and constructive interaction among the five negotiating countries to be able to draft separate agreements in these fields in the future.

Another indication of the agreement is the anticipation of a regular mechanism to ensure the effective implementation of the convention and to review the high-level, regular cooperation and consultation between the five countries. Such an arrangement would be an appropriate opportunity for the development of cooperation in all fields, especially in economic areas, as well as the organisation of regular economic conferences. Therefore, it is imperative that Caspian Sea coastal states commit to continuous monitoring of the good implementation of the Convention of the Caspian Sea Legal Regime as well as other multilateral agreements based on the mechanisms specified in these documents.

Today, six documents for cooperation in the Caspian Sea will be signed, each of which will reinforce cooperation in this critical area. At the same time, protection of the "environment" and "living water resources" are two very important issues that the presidents of the Caspian Sea littoral states are determined to require their national institutions to take serious consideration on these two vital issues in all their actions and projects.

The God-given energy resources in the Caspian Sea belongs to its littoral countries’ people. The only solution to preventing any kind of disagreement in the areas whose confines have not been determined is either the countries use these resources jointly or refrain from unilaterally exploring and exploiting these areas. I am pleased that friendly and neighbouring countries are committed to their previous agreements on this matter.

In order to achieve the common goals and interaction between the Caspian Sea littoral states and with regard to the historical background as well as the documents that will be signed today by the parties in the field of "transportation" and "business and economic cooperation", it will be appropriate for the member states to take steps to form and establish organisations for cooperation, customs unions, banking cooperation, common free zones, joint transportation companies, joint ventures, tourism, formation of a single customs window, development of multifaceted economic cooperation, facilitation of visa issuance and the move to complete abolition and other facilitating and profitable actions.

One of the important capabilities and potentials of the Caspian Sea is the benefits of maritime trade and shipping. Despite the vast capacity of Caspian Sea littoral states, the amount of the advantage taken from maritime transport is insignificant compared to the capacity created and those under construction. Currently, the capacity of the ports of the Caspian Sea littoral cities is about 130 million tonnes, while the maximum amount of sea transport has been 30 million tonnes, which is less than 25 percent of the capacity. The Caspian Sea has the capacity to make transportation of goods and passengers more convenient and cheaper by developing better and more efficient shipping lines between coastal countries. Therefore, expansion and modernisation of ports in this sea can be put on the agenda of the coastal countries.

In the field of transit, the Caspian states have the capacity to increase their cooperation. Connecting the three countries of Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan through the Eastern Caspian transit railway will connect the countries of this region to the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea, and by completing the Rasht-Astara railway, which will be carried out with Iran and Azerbaijan’s cooperation, the Western Caspian states will also be connected to southern ports of Iran. By connecting the ports of our country in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea to Central Asia, the Caucasus and Europe, the transfer of goods will be faster and cheaper. The expansion of the roads of the coastal states of the Caspian Sea also plays a very important role in this regard.

Tourism and maritime travel between the Caspian states are not well formed. If we encourage the private sector and shipping companies, we can provide the conditions for everyone to take better advantage of the attractions and tourism potentials of the Caspian Sea countries. Therefore, it is appropriate that within the framework of joint committees, we facilitate the conditions for the activation of shipping companies and tourism institutes.

Cooperation in the energy sector, including energy transfer and swaps, is another important issue of cooperation in the Caspian Sea. We have started working on this issue with some coastal countries and we will continue to seriously develop it.

With its maritime access to the north and south, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to play its strategic and regional role in development of trade and transportation.

Today, the Caspian Sea, as an important and strategic region, is the centre of friendship, cooperation and convergence between governments and its peoples, and it has become a successful model for ensuring peace, stability, friendship, good neighbourliness and progress. And this summit is another step towards further convergence in the region, which should be strengthened by taking other steps.


News Code 136669


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