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Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs: the Caspian must be a region of security and stability
Speaking at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian States last Wednesday in Astana, the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Mohammad Javad Zarif, stated that security and stability on the Caspian Sea have a fundamental significance for the countries of the region, and that it is necessary to use the sea for peaceful purposes only:
“Safety, peace and stability on the Caspian Sea are of fundamental importance to the people and governments of the region. By recognizing this key aspect — that is: security, transparency, using the sea for peaceful purposes, slowing down the arms race, guarantees that military force will not be employed, united efforts against external threats, in addition to the agreements reached in the declaration of the Astrakhan Summit prohibiting the use of military force by third parties — these measures are enough to ensure peace and stability in the region”, said Zarif.
According to the minister, “the atmosphere of general mutual understanding evident at the negotiations inspired great optimism and hope for substantial results.”
The minister went on to note the importance of environmental protection, and urged the other states of the Caspian to refrain from the misuse of available biological resources.
“It follows that we must be especially careful in the use of the sea floor for transporting potential pollutants”, noted the minister.
Zarif also called upon the “Caspian Five” (Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) to establish a permanent regional body: “Its structure, objective and authorities would be determined by mutual consultation between the Caspian states. The creation of this body will demonstrate our long-term and comprehensive dedication to the issues surrounding the Caspian Sea”, he concluded.
The question of defining the legal status of the Caspian sea took on new importance in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia became independent states, and the need to define territorial boundaries between the five states (including Iran) became a critical issue. One difficulty in determining boundaries is related to the basin’s status as a sea or a lake, the laws for which are governed differently by international law.