October 6, 2008

Kazakh-Hosted Conference Discusses Caspian Security, Environment

Text of report by state-owned Kazakh TV on 3 October

[Presenter] The problem of how to determine the legal status of the Caspian Sea will be resolved if a common agreement on the security of the littoral states is concluded. This view was expressed by specialists at an international conference in Almaty entitled "Caspian Dialogue-3". The five Caspian littoral states - Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan - have failed to come to agreement on the legal status of the sea for 16 years now. The two-day meeting of diplomats, ecologists and foreign experts is devoted to the issue of regional security in the Caspian region. The current problems of regional relations, cooperation in the energy sphere and management of water resources are also on the agenda of the conference.

[Correspondent] The Caspian littoral states have been negotiating on the legal status of the sea since 1992. A special working group held 23 meetings to discuss the problem. But so far, only one environment-related document has been signed by all the five littoral states.

Some international experts predict that the process of adoption of an all-encompassing convention will be completed soon. Other experts believe this process will last for dozens of years. Iran is the country most interested in the protraction of the process of the territorial division of the Caspian Sea, according to an Azerbaijani participant in the conference, Rustam Mamedov.

[Rustam Mamedov, captioned as president of the Caspian Sea: Partnership for Future organization] After the dissolution of the USSR, Iran has been increasingly insisting that the Caspian is a common sea. When Kazakhstan and Russia divided the bottom of the sea in July 1998, Iran put forward another idea - to divide the sea into five equal parts. Otherwise, Kazakhstan was going to control 29 per cent of the sea, Russia 19 per cent, Azerbaijan 20 per cent and Iran only 14 per cent.

[Correspondent] Meanwhile, ecologists are concerned about the environmental situation in the region. The Kashagan oil project may result in an environmental catastrophe in the sea.

[Mels Yeleusizov, captioned as head of the Tabigat environmental association] The project must be revised completely. They are constructing artificial islands and intend to build stations pumping gas with horrific pressure. This is a catastrophe.

[Correspondent] Meanwhile, officials of the Environmental Protection Ministry report on the work done. The ministry made amendments to legislation and bought equipment for controlling the offshore area. The Caspian environmental programme also contributes to preservation of the fish stock and prevention of pollution. The Global Ecological Fund plans to allocate 5.5m dollars for the programme in the years to come.

[Zeynulla Sarsembayev, captioned as Kazakh deputy environmental protection minister] The Caspian is a trans-border sea so its problems should be resolved in cooperation. This cooperation has been successfully progressing for the last five years. The outline convention on protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea signed in November 2003 is the brightest example of such cooperation.

[Correspondent] During the conference, Kazakhstan proposed development of a five-party mechanism for controlling armaments in the Caspian Sea. Such measures will provide security for the region and help to establish friendly relations between the littoral states.

At the end of the conference, the participants will issue a number of recommendations for strengthening cooperation.

Originally published by Kazakh Television first channel, Astana, in Kazakh 1400 3 Oct 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Central Asia. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.