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Caspian equation
Russian "Vek" (Century) daily - about the results of Ashkhabad summit

The Caspian Summit in Ashkhabad was an outstanding event. First of all because it was the first time such a meeting was organized and carried out from the time of collapse of USSR. As a matter of fact, the Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has been hesitating about the necessity to convoke a summit because of a dedlock situation formed around the process of the Caspian Sea division and determination of its status. His forebodings were partially justified for during the summit the Azeri President Heydar Aliyev announced that Baku is not going to stop the exploration of disputed territories on the Caspian Sea. The second aspect of the summit is that the sides received real chances to start settling legal status of the Sea based on the consensus reached by all the littoral states. Another factor is that Tehran is accepted as a full member of the "game". In fact, Iran is also hunger to getting the best it could get from division of the Caspian energy resources. The fourth aspect is that the Caspian problem, which in case of unfavorable geo-political development can turn into another conflict on the post Soviet area, is being solved without participation of the Western world. At last the fifth aspects is that the heads of the Caspian littoral state were not only focused on disputable issues but have been discussed a wide range of questions using this opportunity. These are issues on the further development of bilateral relations, as well as the ones within the coalition of the Caspian states being formed. According to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, within this coalition The states could come to an accord.

The most honorable place, on the right of the host of the summit in Ashkhabad, was taken by the Russian President Vladimir Putin. (By the way, the most news agencies report that Niyazov greeted only the Russian President on the palace front steps). Therefore, Vladimir Putin was granted the main initiative to "undo the Caspian knot". He confirmed the Russian position regarding the future legal status of the state based on the "Dividing bottom, with common water" principle. In this regard the Russian President stated that a "gradual, step-by-step" principle should be applied to the current situation for being prevented from "sharing the Caspian into five seas". Moreover, Moscow initiated creation of the intergovernmental center for permanent monitoring of the costal environment of the Sea.

Another very important geo-political breakthrough was the statement by Russia, which does not oppose the concept of multi-version export of energy resources even after September 11 events and the geo-political changes took place in Afghanistan. The urgent task for today is to provide priority of economic and ecological principles, instead of geo-political one, while laying the new routs for energy pipelines.

Thus, according to most of experts, the Russian policy in the Caspian region has entered a new level, allowing all the states - participants of the summit - to act in accord, regardless the fact that the heads of delegations failed to sign a final document. Russian, for example hopes for the future cooperation with Iran in solving various international issues, even the ones on fighting international terrorism. If taking into consideration the state of Iran, which is included into the list of "axis of evil", it may be stated that thanks to the Caspian littoral states it could force its way through the international isolation, At least, this is the very way, most of observers qualified proposal by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to hold the next summit of the Caspian states in Tehran. Otherwise, the Agreement on friendship and cooperation signed between Russia and Turkmenistan and the results of the summit pave the way of the regional states to the big policy.

Vek daily,

March 24, 2002

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Stanislav TARASOV

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