Caspian Sea, model for peace, stability, friendship: Iran’s Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Caspian Sea is now a model for guaranteeing peace, stability and friendship.
Rouhani made the remarks in an address to the Fifth Caspian Sea Littoral States Summit in the Kazakh port city of Aktau on Sunday, where the presidents of the five states bordering the resource-rich Caspian Sea signed a historic convention on the sea’s legal status after more than two decades of discussions.
The Caspian Sea convention has been drawn up in 24 articles with the most important highlights being a ban on military presence of all foreign countries in the sea and transit of military consignments belonging to foreign countries.
Rouhani said, “Today, this region has turned into a successful model for guaranteeing peace, stability, friendship, good neighborliness and progress and this summit is another step toward more convergence in the region that needs to be strengthened by taking more steps.”
He described the Caspian Sea convention as a major document that monitors all rights and responsibilities of the sea’s littoral states and added, “Of course, the formulation of the technical details will be postponed to other separate agreements.”
The Iranian president said the convention bans the presence of foreign armed forces and does not allow foreigners to use the territories of the littoral states for acts of aggression against another littoral state.
He emphasized that the Caspian Sea belongs to all its littoral states and any form of establishment and handing over of military bases to foreign countries and the passage of warships and even transit of foreign military transit shipments belonging to a country other than Caspian Sea littoral states is forbidden.
Rouhani noted that negotiations for the final agreement on defining delimitation borders and determining the methods of drawing baselines must continue until an agreement is reached among the five negotiating countries.
He said protection of the “environment” and “living water resources” are two very important issues that the presidents of the Caspian Sea littoral states are determined to require their national institutions to take serious consideration on these two vital issues in all their actions and projects.
The Iranian president emphasized that the Caspian Sea’s energy resources belong to all its littoral states, saying, “The only solution to preventing any kind of disagreement in the areas whose confines have not been determined is either the countries use these resources jointly or refrain from unilaterally exploring and exploiting these areas.”
He said in order to achieve the common goals and interaction among the Caspian Sea littoral states, they should “take steps to form and establish organizations for cooperation, customs unions, banking cooperation, common free zones, joint transportation companies, joint ventures, tourism, formation of a single customs window, development of multifaceted economic cooperation, and facilitation of visa issuance.”
He pointed to the benefits of maritime trade and shipping in the Caspian Sea and stated, “The Caspian Sea has the capacity to make transportation of goods and passengers more convenient and cheaper by developing better and more efficient shipping lines between coastal countries.”
He proposed that the expansion and modernization of ports in the Caspian Sea can be put on the agenda of the coastal countries.
Rouhani stressed the importance of cooperation in the energy sector, including energy transfer and swaps, in the Caspian Sea and noted that Iran has started working with some coastal countries in this regard and would continue to seriously develop it.
“With its maritime access to the north and south, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to play its strategic and regional role in development of trade and transportation,” he pointed out.