Chronicles of Turkmenistan: Does the Caspian deal change anything for Turkmenistan?

Article published on Chronicles of Turkmenistan on 8 October 2018

The Deal reached on August 12th by the five Caspian States is certainly historic but could turn out to be little more than a mere endorsement of the existing situation. It is unlikely that Turkmen gas will be soon exported  through the Caspian “Sea”

According to several of our sources, Turkmen high officials are not showing much enthusiasm following the Caspian deal signed by the leaders of the five coastal states on August 12 in the Kazakh city of Aktau. The signing of the 18-page convention may certainly appear  historic – “epochal” according to Mr. Putin – after twenty-two years of negotiations. However, a miracle is unlikely, given that, for one, the reasons why the deal was impossible for more than two decades haven’t disappeared. Finally, the deal offers little more than a framework. “The first article of the Aktau Convention reads that the Caspian is neither a lake, nor a sea but a “body of water“. “This wording circumvents the debates that made a consensus impossible since almost a quarter of a  century”, explains Igor Delanoe, vice director of the French-Russian observatory in Moscow.

The 24 articles of the agreement on the legal status of the Caspian Sea leave open many questions, especially those related to the division of the seabed among the coastal states. “In many respect, the Deal endorses the existing situation. It’s a kind of approval of the bilateral agreements that Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan had previously signed with each other”, notes Rovshan Ibrahimov, lecturer at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, in Seoul (South Korea). “It was planned that the document should enshrine the intention to search for compromises and mutually acceptable solutions towards a settlement of disputes, including delimitation issues. However, since the parties could not reach a consensus over the most disputable challenges especially concerning the division of the Caspian seabed among the national sectors, it was decided “to take these issues out of the draft text of the Convention”, confirms Lidiya Parkhomchik, Senior research fellow at Eurasian Research Institute, in Almaty (Kazakhstan).

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