“A lasting legal regime should guarantee that the interests of all littoral states are met given the geopolitical changes,” Zarif said, addressing a ministerial meeting of the Caspian Sea littoral states in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday, July 13.
He also expressed Tehran’s support for the establishment of a permanent regional association, whose activities and list of duties would be defined after consultation among the Caspian littoral countries.
Here’s the full text of his speech, as reported by Iranian Foreign Ministry’s website and translated by IFP:
In the Name of God
Mr. Erlan Idrissov,
Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov,
Mr. Sergei Lavrov,
Mr. Raşit Meredow,
I seize the opportunity of meeting my counterparts from Caspian Sea littoral states to offer my congratulations on the holding of the littoral states’ ministerial meeting.
I particularly appreciate the initiative and hospitality of my friend and colleague, Mr. Erlan Idrissov. In all ministerial meetings, we have fortunately witnessed forward steps. I wish the trend would continue in this meeting as well.
It has been 20 years since the first ministerial meeting of Caspian Sea littoral states in Ashgabat and their decision to improve the level of negotiations for the development of Caspian Sea’s legal regime.
Although 20 years of talks with numerous ups and downs indicate the complex, difficult, and intertwined nature of the multidimensional issues surrounding the Caspian Sea, the passage of time and various incidents have not at all decreased the importance of the Sea.
Here in the presence of foreign ministers, it is worth to appreciate the efforts made by the five littoral states’ negotiators and their heavy work on one of the most important and complex issues.
Fortunately, since the recent meeting of foreign ministers and presidents in Astrakhan, effective and intensive talks have been held and new agreements have been made; however, I should admit that a full understanding has yet to be reached on certain problems.
Caspian Sea’s legal regime convention is a comprehensive document that will explain the rights and obligations of littoral states and the principles for their cooperation and activities. Therefore, the negotiations need a considerable amount of deliberation. The mutual understanding witnessed in the talks has made us more optimistic towards the results of agreements.
Within the past years, negotiations have been underway based on the principle of consensus to develop the legal regime of the Caspian Sea as per the principles and rules of international law. Given the unique and special situation of the Sea, a lasting legal regime should guarantee that the interests of all littoral states are met given the geopolitical changes.
To that end, the legal regime needs to take into account three main topics of concern, including peace and security, sustainable development, and fair demarcation of the sea boundaries:
1– Peace and Security: Sustainable peace and stability in the Caspian Sea is of fundamental importance to regional nations and governments. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the grounds for establishment of peace and security in the region can be prepared through transparency, peaceful use of the Sea, refraining from arms race, guarantees of excluding of military forces in relations among the countries, promotion of deterrent diplomacy, joint action against threats, settlement of conflicts only through peaceful means, and prohibition of the military presence of third parties in the Sea to prevent the crises and incidents, as previously agreed and declared in Astrakhan Summit’s communiqué. Such security and stability will be pave the way for economic development and the welfare of nations.
2- Sustainable Development: Observing long-term collective interests and responding to the needs of current and future generations requires that Caspian Sea littoral states take serious measures to conserve the environment and protect the biological resources of the sea. They should also control the shipment of toxic pollutants to the international markets through the Caspian Sea.
3– Fair Demarcation of the Sea Boundaries: The demarcation of the maritime borders in this Sea is one of the most important topics discussed by the littoral states. In this case, consideration should be given to the geographical position of each country and that it should involve “fairness”, an internationally-recognized principle for reaching a consensus.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In recent years, thanks to the political will shown by the heads of states, we have been witnessing the all-out expansion of relations at all levels, which provides a basis for the opening of new horizons. To achieve these goals, the Islamic Republic of Iran supports the establishment of a permanent regional association, whose activities and list of duties would be defined after consultation among the Caspian littoral countries. Founding such an association would reflect a macro and comprehensive outlook on the Caspian issues and its different aspects.
To sum up, I hope we would achieve important outcomes in this meeting and pave the way for the fifth summit of the leaders of Caspian Sea littoral states in Kazakhstan.
Offering my congratulations on Kazakhstan’s membership in the United Nations Security Council, I once again thank Mr. Erlan Idrissov, the government and nation of the Republic of Kazakhstan for their hospitality and good organization of the meeting, and I hope we would witness the opening of the fifth Leaders’ Summit in the beautiful country of Kazakhstan in the near future.
Thank you for your attention.