President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, colleagues,
I would like to begin my address by thanking the President of Azerbaijan, Mr Aliyev, for hosting this event in Baku and for the excellent organisation of the third Caspian Summit. I am confident it will have positive results.
Like all the states represented here, Russia is interested in a consistent and mutually beneficial development of the Caspian region and in addressing regional matters. In this sense, our Summit is perhaps the most important and most influential venue. Judging by what was said earlier, all the participants in this summit share my opinion.
”Our responsibilities are not limited to dividing the sea, the water and the seabed; we must also preserve its unique environment, and use the natural resources of the sea with great care.“
That is why we made the decision at the previous summit held in Tehran in 2007, to hold meetings of heads of Caspian littoral states on a regular basis. Perhaps we should take it upon ourselves to discuss these issues even more often because the three-year gap since the last summit clearly did not benefit dialogue. I am glad we have met now, but I think we have the opportunity to meet once a year in one of our countries and to move this process forward.
We are neighbours, and that says it all. That is why we should not only communicate regularly, but also strive for new agreements. I believe the level our contacts have already attained allows us to begin shaping new cooperation formats to boost the effectiveness of our efforts in certain spheres, including national security. Today we will lay a legal basis for that by signing the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea.
This truly is a watershed event. The document expands our opportunities for practical cooperation and for preventing new threats within the Caspian region. We are united by our responsibility for the situation in the area, a responsibility only shared by us and no one else. That is why it is the exclusive prerogative of the Caspian states to address the full range of regional security subjects.
If at some point we allow our interaction to lapse, these issues will be taken up by other states that have no relation to the Caspian Sea but who are interested in making a presence in the region to address their own economic and even political problems.
”I believe that today the “Caspian Five” has came close to resolving the key matter: determining the width and the operation of national maritime zones, which in fact is the main question.“
The issue that is permanently on the agenda of these summits is establishing a new legal status for the Caspian Sea, one that matches the present-day geopolitical realities. We have already done a great deal to achieve this: we have reached basic agreement on a number of critical items.
In regard to further progress, I can assure you, colleagues, that the Russian Federation will do everything in its power to reach a consensus on all essential points of our future agreement in order to ensure a speedy approval and adoption of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. We are dealing with the most important regional issues, including seabed and water delimitation, military activities at sea, as well as common navigation and fishing regulations. We have already submitted our proposals and responded to counter-proposals and the initiatives of the President of Kazakhstan regarding seabed delimitation. In this sense, we are involved in a dialogue.
I believe that today the “Caspian Five” has came close to resolving the key matter: determining the width and the operation of national maritime zones, which in fact is the main question. We are still to reach final agreement but I am confident that, despite certain differences in our positions, we will be able to arrive at a consensus. First, because we are neighbours and we really must remain friends, and second, because it needs to be done for us to manage the Caspian Sea more effectively. In the meantime, the former status of the Caspian Sea remains in force, as well as the agreements signed between the Soviet Union and Iran that maintain the status quo.
The negotiation process is not proceeding very fast, but we must do everything we can to speed it up. In this respect I agree with what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has just said regarding accelerating the preparation of documents. It is our objective, and I believe that we are able to move faster.
On the other hand, it would be inadmissible for any party to take unilateral steps that could disrupt the existing balance or complicate or frustrate the efforts toward the new convention. We are all responsible people and we realise that we cannot allow such a scenario. So, once again I would like to assure you that Russia will do everything to reach final agreement.
”If at some point we allow our interaction to lapse, these issues will be taken up by other states that have no relation to the Caspian Sea but who are interested in making a presence in the region to address their own economic and even political problems.“
Our responsibilities are not limited to dividing the sea, the water and the seabed; we must also preserve its unique environment, and use the natural resources of the sea with great care. Mr Nazarbayev has just talked about this and I fully agree that we must not allow the deterioration of the unique biological system. Let us think together about what we can do, what additional commitments we can undertake, because, after all, we are not talking about current affairs: this concerns our responsibility to the future generations of our citizens.
Therefore, we must think about how we can preserve the Caspian basin together. This will allow us to exercise more rigorous control and monitor the balance between oil and gas production on the one hand, and environmental measures on the other. Achieving this balance is one of our key objectives, including in regard to such a sensitive issue as laying the main trans-Caspian pipelines, which is important for all of us. We realise that any fault or accident will have disastrous consequences for the closed ecosystem of the Caspian Sea.
We saw the enormous repercussions of the global catastrophe that took place earlier this year, even though it occurred in an open marine system. In response I put forward a special initiative, which I presented at G20 and at other forums, on paying more attention to such disasters, increasing companies’ liability and making sure that states are aware of their share of responsibility and perhaps creating special insurance funds for this purpose. Everything related to such incidents at sea applies to the Caspian Sea to an even greater extent, because as well as being our common resource, it is also an inland sea.
Protocols to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, which will be signed in the near future, will become the legal basis for pentalateral environmental cooperation in this field. I hope that these documents will become instruments of direct environmental regulation.
An important component of our cooperation is trade and economic ties. Our colleagues have already spoken about that and I fully agree with them: this is a vital part of our bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Russia continues to believe that a specialised regional agency that will unite us all is needed to ensure their further development. We hope that that this initiative will launch an involved discussion among our colleagues present here at this table. Such an agency would not only enhance regional integration processes, but also bring us closer to finding solutions to different topics on our agenda.
Once again I would like to thank Mr Aliyev for organising this summit and express the hope that such meetings will occur with greater regularity to help us accomplish the tasks that lie ahead.