The presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan discussed topical issues of cooperation in the Caspian Sea in relation to various spheres, as well as the implementation of resolutions made during the previous meetings of the heads of the Caspian “five”.
The meeting began in a restricted format and then continued in an expanded format.
A communique was adopted following the summit.
* * *
Address by the President of Russia at the 6th Caspian Summit
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Berdimuhamedov,
Friends, heads of state,
Russia unfailingly supports expanding partnerships within the Caspian “five” – in politics, security, the economy and nature conservation, as well as many other items on the humanitarian agenda.
At the same time, we believe that prosperity in our shared region can only be guaranteed by an unfailing commitment to the principles enshrined in the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. The Convention stipulates the crucial provision, which is that the countries of the Caspian “five” are responsible for the Caspian region’s preservation and its sustainable development for current and future generations.
Ultimately, the key goals of the “five” include the further expansion of regional trade and investment links and mutually beneficial cooperation in industrial production and advanced technology. I should note that Russia’s trade with the Caspian littoral states is constantly on the rise. In 2021, our mutual trade increased by more than one-third, or 35 percent, to reach US$34 billion. It increased another 12.5 percent between January and April.
The Caspian Economic Forum, founded by Mr Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, to whom we extend our birthday greetings today, plays an important role in this context. The first forum was held in 2019 in Turkmenbashi. The second forum is planned to be held this autumn in Moscow. I am grateful to our colleagues for supporting this initiative.
I want to stress that the Caspian “five” has tremendous opportunities for energy cooperation. We are already fulfilling our agreements on joint operation of the offshore oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea. By doing so, we can use the natural wealth of the Caspian Sea in both the conventional and the innovative, alternative energy sectors rationally and effectively while serving the interests of all the parties.
We think a lot needs to be done to improve the transport and logistics architecture of the region. First of all, we are talking about building the International North-South Transport Corridor, which our colleagues have talked about. I fully agree with these approaches. This is a truly ambitious project, a 7,200-kilometre-long transport artery from St Petersburg to ports in Iran and India.
An agreement between the Caspian littoral states on transport cooperation, which came into force last year and is aimed at turning the Caspian Sea region into a major international logistics hub, is designed to facilitate a faster launch of this corridor. And I see how actively this is being developed in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Russia also needs to make a stronger effort in this direction. I would like to inform you that Russia has adopted and is implementing the Strategy for the Development of National Seaports in the Caspian Sea, as well as rail and road approaches to them until 2030. We are expanding the corresponding infrastructure in the Caspian Sea. We are focusing on the ports of Astrakhan, Olya and Makhachkala.
In addition to the economy, another important area is the strengthening of cooperation between our five countries on environmental safety and the preservation of the Caspian Sea and its living marine resources. The President of Kazakhstan has just spoken about this. The President of Azerbaijan spoke of it just now and during the restricted-format meeting. I fully share these concerns. It would be rational to build up joint capabilities for prompt response to natural and man-made events and phenomena that could affect the life and well-being of the people in the region. These include the shallowing of the sea and the drastic declining of the sturgeon stock.
In this regard, I would like to emphasise that Russia is striving to make a significant contribution to solving the problems related to the conservation of the Caspian biodiversity. In particular, we release up to 40 million sturgeon fingerlings into the Caspian Sea annually, which results in over 80 percent of the so-called Russian sturgeon coming from Russian fish hatcheries today.
In addition to that, we are successfully fulfilling projects on marine mammal and bird protection, removal of plastic from the sea and many other things. We assume that, for more effective preservation of the fragile marine ecosystem, it is necessary to finalise a corresponding legislative framework based on the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, or the Tehran Convention of 2003. In this context, we propose convening a conference of the Convention parties in the near future.
We also support expediting the implementation of the documents that have already been signed in crucial areas like preventing maritime incidents, counter-terrorist activity and combating organised crime. It would also be helpful to speed the work on the draft five-party agreements regulating cooperation in maritime security, search and rescue at sea, scientific research, and combating poaching and drug trafficking, which are currently under review.
Naturally, strengthening cultural, educational, sport, tourist and youth exchanges between the countries of the Caspian “five” requires much attention. Specifically, we propose issuing instructions to the ministers of culture to work on a pilot programme – I know that all of our countries are actively involved in this – I mean a pilot project to put together a collection of carpet-making masterpieces that our countries are proud of and showcase them in a mobile exhibition or a festival running across the region.
Also, the Union of Cinematographers of Russia proposed organising a Caspian film forum. This is also a good idea that we could support.
And, of course, we should intensify the development of regional tourism which, absolutely, will bring our nations closer. For example, the first cruise ship on the Caspian Sea, the Peter the Great liner, will be commissioned in the Astrakhan Region next year. Themed Caspian Sea cruises will improve our people’s knowledge of the rich historical traditions and the legacy of the Caspian littoral states. They can visit landmarks and attend cultural and educational events.
In conclusion I would like to stress once again: the sustainable development of the Caspian Sea region and a higher quality of life has always been and continues to be the priority task of the Caspian “five” cooperation. Russia is ready to contribute most actively to this work.
Once again, thank you to Mr Serdar Berdimuhamedov for organising our joint work.