Russia Says Willing to Compromise on Caspian

BAKU (Reuters)–Russia is prepared to compromise on defining the status of the Caspian Sea–an issue crucial for determining rights over oil and other resources–Russia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov said on Monday.

"Russia has decided to take a serious step towards a compromise on the delineation of the Caspian Sea–as the drawn-out uncertainty over the status of this body of water is holding up strategic investment plans," Pastukhov said at a meeting in the Azeri capital Baku with President Haydar Aliyev.

Pastukhov said the Russian side proposed dividing the sea bed of the Caspian–while leaving the surface and the body of water itself available for shared use–so ensuring freedom for navigation and preservation of bio-resources.

"We recognize the rights of littoral states to their zones of activity–but from the point of view of shipping and the ecology there must be a single system," he said.

The Russian side also proposed dividing the sea bed using median lines on the principle of equal distance from the shore.

These pragmatic dividing lines would be confirmed by bilateral agreemen’s between Caspian littoral states.

"This principle will be laid down in the conception of a legal status for the Caspian in a package in which it will be possible to sign an agreement covering bio-resources–the ecology and free navigation," Pastukhov said.

Aliyev said in reply that Azerbaijan’s interests were that littoral states should have the right to carry out their activities in the Caspian.

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