Low-Key Caspian Sea Summit Has Far-Reaching Implications

Low-Key Caspian Sea Summit Has Far-Reaching Implications
Leaders walk along the Volga embankment during the Caspian Summit, Astrakhan, Russia, Sept. 29, 2014 (Russian Presidential Press and Information Office photo).

The leaders of all five littoral states attended the fourth Caspian Sea summit in the Russian city of Astrakhan yesterday. The latest meeting was more significant than previous summits held in Turkmenistan in 2002, Iran in 2007 and Azerbaijan in 2010, as the parties reached important agreements on some issues. Yet, others continue to divide them, with implications that reach far beyond the Caspian.

At yesterday’s summit, the five littoral state presidents—Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev—renewed their commitment to keeping non-Caspian countries from establishing a military presence on the sea. Regarding their own armed forces, the sides agreed to ensure “a stable balance of arms in the Caspian Sea,” while calling for limiting military construction to “reasonable sufficiency, taking into account the interests of all parties without harming the security of each other.”

They also reached a new agreement on two types of maritime zones on the sea, one granting sovereignty over the area out to 15 nautical miles beyond littoral states’ shores, and another delimiting exclusive fishing rights up to 25 nautical miles from their coasts. Their discussions also covered taxation, customs, joint rescue missions and other issues. Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev proposed that the parties consider establishing a free trade zone and eventually an international organization, which would go beyond these periodic leadership meetings. Perhaps most importantly, they agreed in principle that the five littoral states would jointly develop the waters that extend beyond their fishing zones. Putin said he was hopeful that the littoral states could negotiate a convention resolving the legal status of the Caspian Sea before they met at their next summit in Kazakhstan at a date to be determined.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review