Aktau: The leaders of the five states bordering the resource-rich Caspian Sea signed a landmark deal on its legal status on Sunday in Kazakh’s Aktau, easing regional tensions and potentially facilitating lucrative oil and gas projects.
The leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan signed the pact on the status of the inland sea, which has been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union rendered obsolete agreements between Tehran and Moscow.
The host, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said before the signing that the leaders were “participants in a historic event.” “We can admit that consensus on the status of the sea was hard to reach and not immediate, the talks lasted more than 20 years and called for a lot of joint efforts from the parties,” Nazarbayev said.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whose country was seen as driving the deal, said the convention had “epoch-making significance” and called for more military cooperation between the countries on the Caspian.
Sunday’s summit was the fifth of its kind since 2002 but there have been more than 50 lower-level meetings since the Soviet breakup spawned four new countries on the shores of the Caspian. The deal goes some way to settling a long-lasting dispute on whether the Caspian is a sea or a lake.