Baku, Azerbaijan, April 22
Azerbaijan supports defining the legal status of the Caspian Sea taking into account the sovereign rights of the Caspian littoral states.
"Azerbaijan reaffirms its commitment to address issues related to all cooperation areas, including the Caspian Sea's legal status, taking into account littoral states' sovereign rights, mutually beneficial partnership and through peaceful means and negotiations," according to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
Mammadyarov made the remarks on April 22 at a meeting of the Caspian littoral states foreign ministers held in Moscow.
"Preparation of a full agenda and adoption of final documents of the Caspian states summit, to be held in autumn in Astrakhan, will contribute to a full-fledged progress in coordinating the fundamental principles of the Caspian agenda and strengthen the existing framework of cooperation between the Caspian states," the minister said.
Azerbaijani FM said considerable work has been carried out in order to strengthen the legal framework of Caspian states' cooperation.
"The agreement on cooperation in the area of hydro-meteorological study of the Caspian Sea has been agreed upon and is ready to be signed. At the same time an agreement on cooperation for prevention and addressing the emergency situations in the Caspian Sea has been agreed upon," Mammadyarov said.
The minister went on to say that experts continue working for a final coordination of the agreement on conservation and rational use of biological resources of the Caspian Sea.
"Undoubtedly, imposing a moratorium on catching sturgeon species will create conditions for preservation of Caspian Sea's unique values and passing them to the future generations," the minister said.
Mammadyarov also said a new impetus will be given to close cooperation between the sides, after all Caspian states complete the ratification of the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea, signed on November 18, 2010, in Baku.
The minister also said Azerbaijan shares the littoral states' common concern over the current condition of the Caspian Sea's environment and their interest in expanding cooperation for addressing Caspian Sea's environmental problems.
"We appreciate the work done under the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea and its protocols. Azerbaijan as the first party, hosting the secretariat starting from January 2015, is ready to provide all the necessary conditions for its further success," the minister said.
Mammadyarov also noted with satisfaction that the provisions of the draft convention on the Caspian Sea' legal status, which touch upon the protection of the environment have been fully coordinated.
The following issues remain as priority for the Caspian Sea countries: strengthening of the international cooperation, improvement of the investment climate on developing the energy resources and their transportation to international markets, creation of reliable and secure communications and the use of highly profitable and environmentally friendly technologies, Mammadyarov said.
Being the important component of the transport corridors, the Caspian Sea is a connecting link in many international and regional projects, according to the foreign minister.
The success of the projects, which connect the Caspian Sea to the Black and the Mediterranean seas, namely, the Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipelines, as well as the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway projects contribute to the economic development and welfare of the countries of the Caspian Sea region and the world energy security, Mammadyarov noted.
The minister also emphasized the importance of the mutual trust among the littoral countries, especially, in the issues related to the regional stability, security, economic and research activities in the Caspian Sea.
"The presence of the littoral countries' armed forces and their military activity in the Caspian Sea should be based on the principle of ensuring equal security conditions for all Caspian states. This serves strengthening the mutual trust among the region's countries and turning the Caspian Sea into the area of friendship, cooperation and good neighborhood," the minister said.
Mammadyarov also emphasized the importance of free transit for the landlocked Caspian Sea countries from the Caspian Sea to other seas and oceans.
"Hopefully, all the issues related to the regime for merchant shipping, the right of innocent passage of the countries' ships through the zones under the national sovereignty of other countries, laying of cables and pipelines under the Caspian Sea, as well as conduction of marine scientific researches, will be resolved in accordance with the international maritime law," the minister said.
Mammadyarov pointed out that Baku attaches great importance to the agreements signed between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia on the delimitation of the Caspian Sea.
These agreements are the integral part of the Caspian Sea's legal status and basis for reaching overall agreements, according to the minister.
"Undoubtedly, the common interest of the regional countries in improving the investment climate, developing of energy resources, creation of reliable and secure communications, as well as ensuring security and stability in the Caspian Sea region requires our additional efforts to reach an agreement on all outstanding issues," Mammadyarov said.
"Moreover, we are confident that the consensus on establishing baselines by using the international best practice will contribute to reaching overall agreements," the minister added.
Mammadyarov concluded that the meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian Sea countries will undoubtedly contribute to the successful holding of the Astrakhan summit and further rapprochement of the littoral states' positions for achieving definitive solutions to their important tasks.
Translated by E.A., L.Z.
Edited by C.N.