President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends and colleagues, it is a great pleasure to welcome you all to the Fourth Caspian Summit.
The Caspian Sea and its resources are a historic heritage belonging to all our countries, and we are collectively responsible for looking after it and developing it for future generations. The Caspian region could be called an oasis of peace and true good-neighbourliness. The foundation of this stability is the thoughtful and carefully weighed approach that our countries, peoples and governments take with regard to everything concerning the Caspian, be it security, economic or environmental protection issues.
We worked out the organisational side of these policies at our earlier meetings and discussed various mechanisms, including steps to improve the ‘Caspian Five’ forum. This will not only make our summits more effective, but will also activate the work of our ministries and agencies, expert groups, business communities and youth organisations. This will make it possible for us to discuss all issues and find compromise solutions to even the most complex problems.
Colleagues, in accordance with the agreements we reached at our last meeting in November 2010 in Baku, the experts have carried out a lot of work to prepare the documents that we will examine at this summit.
Today, we will discuss the results of our efforts, outline priorities for the coming future and the longer term, and adopt a political declaration that sets out the principles for multilateral cooperation in the Caspian. These principles will form the cornerstone of our future basic agreement – the convention on the Caspian Sea’s legal status.
I am sure that our five countries’ continued effort to develop cooperation will strengthen regional stability, make the fight against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and other threats and challenges more effective, and will give an added impulse to our countries’ economic development and make them more competitive on global markets.
Colleagues, we have a busy agenda for this summit. Apart from the Caspian’s legal status, security and economic matters, we will also discuss cooperation in the transport sector, protecting the Caspian Sea’s ecosystem, and will exchange views on current international issues. The most important thing is that we all share the determination to reach mutually acceptable agreements that will facilitate even closer cooperation between our five countries.
Once again, I wish you a warm welcome to Russia, to Astrakhan, and I am sure that our work will be interesting and useful.