Caspian Sea or Lake?

Caspian Sea or Lake? between, states, Caspian, Caspian, resources, Caspian, Russia, Caspian, coastal states, Russia, states, only, Azerbaijan, became, right, considered, Iran, sea, Kazakhstan

Is it true to call the Caspian Sea?

It is known that the sea is part of the oceans. From this geographically correct point of view, the Caspian can not be considered the sea, because it is separated from the ocean by huge tracts of land. The shortest distance from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, the closest of the seas included in the system of the World Ocean, is 500 kilometers. Therefore, it would be more correct to speak of the Caspian as a lake. This largest lake in the world is often called simply the Caspian Sea or the lake-sea.

The Caspian has a number of signs of the sea: its water is salty (however there are other salt lakes), the area is not much inferior to the area of ​​such seas as the Black, Baltic, Red, Northern and even exceeds the area of ​​Azov and some others , as in the three Azov seas). Fierce storm winds and huge waves are frequent in the Caspian (and this is not uncommon on Baikal).

So all the same, the Caspian Sea is a lake? So it is written in Wikipedia. And the Great Soviet Encyclopedia answers that no one has yet been able to give a precise definition of this issue - “There is no generally accepted classification.”

Do you know why this is very important and important? But why ...

The lake belongs to the internal waters - the sovereign territories of coastal states to which the international regime does not apply (the principle of non-intervention of the UN in the internal affairs of states). But the water area of ​​the sea is divided differently, and the rights of coastal states are completely different here.


Caspian Sea or Lake? between, states, Caspian, Caspian, resources, Caspian, Russia, Caspian, coastal states, Russia, states, only, Azerbaijan, became, right, considered, Iran, sea, Kazakhstan


In terms of its geographical position, the Caspian itself, unlike the land areas surrounding it, for many centuries has not been the object of any focused attention from the coastal states. Only at the beginning of the XIX century. between Russia and Persia, the first treaties were concluded: Gulustan (1813) 4 and Turkmanchay (1828), summing up the Russian-Persian war, as a result of which Russia annexed a number of Transcaucasian territories and received the exclusive right to keep the navy on the Caspian sea. Russian and Persian merchants were allowed to trade freely in the territory of both states and use the Caspian to transport goods. The Turkmanchai Treaty confirmed all these provisions and became the basis for maintaining international relations between the parties until 1917.

After the October Revolution of 1917, in a note of the new Russian government that came to power on January 14, 1918, it abandoned its exceptional military presence in the Caspian Sea. The agreement between the RSFSR and Persia of February 26, 1921 declared invalid all agreements concluded before it by the tsarist government. The Caspian Sea became a common-use water body: both states were granted equal rights of free navigation, unless there were citizens of third countries who used the service for unfriendly purposes (art. 7). The contract of 1921 did not provide for a sea border between the parties.

In August 1935, the following treaty was signed, the parties to which were new subjects of international law - the Soviet Union and speaking under the new name of Iran. The parties confirmed the provisions of the treaty of 1921, but introduced a new concept for the Caspian to the agreement - a 10-mile fishing zone that restricted the participants to the spatial limits of this fishery. This was done in order to control and preserve the living resources of the reservoir.

In the conditions of the outbreak of the Second World War, unleashed by Germany, suddenly there was an urgent need for the conclusion between the USSR and Iran of a new treaty on trade and navigation on the Caspian Sea. The reason for this was the concern of the Soviet side, caused by the interest of Germany to enhance its trade relations with Iran and the danger of using the Caspian waters as one of the stages of the transit route. The treaty of the USSR with Iran signed in 194010 protected the Caspian Sea from such a perspective: it reiterated the main provisions of the previous agreements, which provided for the stay in its waters of vessels of only these two Caspian states. He also included a rule about his indefinite action.

The collapse of the Soviet Union radically changed the regional situation in the former Soviet space, in particular in the Caspian region. Among the large number of new problems arose the problem of the Caspian. Instead of two states - the USSR and Iran, which previously bilaterally resolved all the emerging issues of maritime navigation, fishing and the use of its other living and non-living resources, now there are five of them.Only Iran remained from the past, the place of the USSR on the rights of succession was taken by Russia, the other three are new states: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan. They had an outlet to the Caspian before, but only as republics of the USSR, and not as independent states. Now, having become independent and sovereign, they had the opportunity, on an equal footing with Russia and Iran, to participate in the discussion and decision-making in the consideration of all the above issues. This was reflected in the attitude of these states towards the Caspian, since all five states that had access to it showed equal interest in using its living and non-living resources. And this is logical, and most importantly, justified: the Caspian Sea is rich in natural resources, both fish stocks and black gold — oil and blue fuel — gas. The exploration and production of the last two resources became the subject of the hottest and most protracted negotiations for a long time. But not only they.

In addition to the presence of rich mineral resources, about 120 species and subspecies of fish inhabit the waters of the Caspian Sea, here lies the world sturgeon gene pool, the catch of which until recently was 90% of their total world catch.


Caspian Sea or Lake? between, states, Caspian, Caspian, resources, Caspian, Russia, Caspian, coastal states, Russia, states, only, Azerbaijan, became, right, considered, Iran, sea, Kazakhstan


Due to its location, the Caspian has traditionally and for a long time been widely used for shipping, acting as a kind of transport artery between the peoples of the coastal states. On its shores are such major seaports as Russian Astrakhan, the capital of Azerbaijan Baku, Turkmen Turkmenbashy, Iranian Enzeli and Kazakhstani Aktau, between which routes of trade, freight and passenger sea transport have been laid.

Nevertheless, the main focus of attention of the Caspian littoral states is its mineral resources - oil and natural gas, for which each of them can claim within the limits to be determined by them collectively on the basis of international law. And for this they will have to divide the Caspian waters, and its bottom, in the depths of which its oil and gas are hidden, and work out the rules for their production with minimal damage to the very fragile environment, primarily the marine environment and its living inhabitants.

The main obstacle in resolving the issue of the start of wide-scale extraction of mineral resources of the Caspian for the Caspian states remains its international legal status:consider it sea or lake? The complexity of the issue lies in the fact that these states themselves must solve it, and there is not yet any agreement among their ranks. But at the same time, each of them seeks to quickly start production of Caspian oil and natural gas and make their sale abroad a permanent source of funds for the formation of its budget.

Therefore, the oil companies of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, not waiting for the end of the settlement of existing differences on the territorial division of the Caspian Sea, have already begun active extraction of its oil, hoping to stop being dependent on Russia, turn their countries into oil producing countries and in this capacity start building their own long-term trading relationship with neighbors.

However, the issue of the status of the Caspian Sea remains unresolved. Regardless of whether the Caspian states agree to consider it a “sea” or a “lake,” they will have to apply the principles appropriate to the choice made to the territorial division of its water area and bottom, or develop their own in this case.

For recognition of the Caspian Sea was Kazakhstan.Such recognition will allow the provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on inland waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf to apply to the division of the Caspian Sea. This would allow coastal states to gain sovereignty over the bowels of the territorial sea (art. 2) and exclusive rights to explore and develop the resources of the continental shelf (art. 77). But the Caspian cannot be called the sea from the point of view of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of ​​1982, since this body of water is closed and has no natural connection with the world's oceans.

In this case, the option of sharing its water area and bottom resources is also excluded.

In the treaties of the USSR with Iran, the Caspian Sea was considered as a border lake. With the legal status of the Caspian Sea, the “lake” is supposed to be divided into sectors, as is done for border lakes. But in international law there is no norm obliging states to do this: division into sectors is established practice.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly made statements that the Caspian is a lake, and its waters and subsoil are the common property of the coastal states.Iran also, from the position enshrined in the treaties with the USSR, views the Caspian Sea by a lake. The government of the country believes that this status implies the creation of a consortium for the unified management of the extraction and use of its resources by the Caspian littoral states. Some authors also speak with this opinion, for example, R. Mamedov believes that with this status, the extraction of hydrocarbon resources in the Caspian Sea by these states should be carried out jointly.

In the literature, a proposal was made to give the Caspian Sea the status of a lake “sui generis”, and in this case we are talking about the special international legal status of such a lake and its special regime. Under the regime, states are supposed to jointly develop their own rules for using its resources.

Thus, recognition of the Caspian by the lake does not require its mandatory division into sectors — each coastal state has its part. Moreover, in international law there are generally no rules on the division of lakes between states: it is their good will, which may hide certain internal interests.

Currently, all Caspian states recognizethat the modern legal regime was established by the established practice of its use, but now the Caspian is in the actual general use of not two, but five states. Even at a meeting of foreign ministers held on November 12, 1996 in Ashgabat, the Caspian states confirmed that the status of the Caspian Sea can be changed only with the consent of all five coastal states. Later, this was also confirmed by Russia and Azerbaijan in a joint statement of January 9, 2001 on the principles of cooperation, as well as in the Declaration on Cooperation in the Caspian Sea of ​​October 9, 2000 signed between Kazakhstan and Russia.

But in the course of numerous Caspian talks, conferences and four summits of the Caspian states (Ashgabat Summit April 23-24, 2002, Tehran Summit October 16, 2007, Baku Summit November 18, 2010 and Astrakhan September 29, 2014) consent to the Caspian countries failed to achieve.

Cooperation at bilateral and trilateral levels is more productive so far. As early as May 2003, Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan concluded an agreement on the junction point of the demarcation lines of adjacent sections of the bottom of the Caspian Sea, which was based on previous bilateral agreements.In the current situation, Russia, by its participation in these agreements, seemed to confirm that the agreements between the USSR and Iran are outdated and do not correspond to the existing realities.

In the Agreement of July 6, 1998 between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan on the delimitation of the bottom of the northern part of the Caspian Sea in order to exercise sovereign rights to subsoil use, it was announced that the seabed between the adjacent and opposite parties is divided along the modified median line based on the principles of equity and agreement of the parties. At the bottom of the site of the state have sovereign rights, but at the same time their common use of the water surface is maintained.

Iran took this agreement as separate and violating the previous treaties with the USSR in 1921 and 1940. However, it should be noted that in the preamble of the 1998 agreement, of which Russia and Kazakhstan were parties, the agreement was considered as a temporary measure pending the signing of a convention by all Caspian littoral states.

Later, on July 19 of the same year, Iran and Russia made a joint statement in which they proposed three possible scenarios for the delimitation of the Caspian. First, the sea should be shared on the basis of the principle of the condominium.The second scenario is to divide the water area, water, bottom and subsoil into national sectors. The third scenario, which is a compromise between the first and second options, is to divide only the bottom between coastal states, and the water surface to be considered common and open to all coastal countries.

The existing variants of delimitation of the Caspian, including those mentioned above, are possible only if there is good political will of the parties. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have clearly expressed their position from the very beginning of the multilateral consultation process. Azerbaijan considers the Caspian Sea to be a lake and, therefore, it should be divided. Kazakhstan proposes to consider the Caspian as a closed sea, referring to the 1982 UN Convention (articles 122, 123), and, accordingly, advocates its division in the spirit of the Convention. Turkmenistan has long supported the joint management and use of the Caspian, but foreign companies already developing resources off the coast of Turkmenistan influenced the policies of its president, who began to object to the establishment of a condominium regime, supporting the division of the sea.

Azerbaijan was the first of the Caspian states that began to use the hydrocarbon riches of the Caspian in the new conditions. After the conclusion in September 1994 of the “Bargain of the Century”, Baku expressed the desire of the sector adjacent to it to declare an integral part of its territory. This provision was also enshrined in the Constitution of Azerbaijan, adopted in order to exercise sovereign rights to use subsoil, Moscow, July 6, 1998 in a referendum on November 12, 1995 (Article 11). But such a radical position from the very beginning did not meet the interests of all other coastal states, especially Russia, which expressed concerns that this would open up access to the Caspian Sea to countries of other regions. Azerbaijan agreed to a compromise. In the Agreement between the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan on the delimitation of the adjacent parts of the Caspian Sea in 2002, a provision was established in which the bottom section was carried out using the median line, and the water area of ​​the reservoir remained in joint use.

Unlike Azerbaijan, which expressed a desire to completely divide the Caspian, Iran proposes to keep its bowels and water in common use, but does not object to the option of dividing the Caspian into 5 equal parts.Accordingly, each member of the Caspian Five would be allocated 20 percent of the total area of ​​the reservoir.

Russia's point of view has changed. Moscow for a long time insisted on establishing a condominium, but wanting to build a long-term policy with its neighbors, who were not interested in seeing the Caspian Sea as a property of the five coastal states, changed its position. It was then that pushed the states to begin a new stage of negotiations, at the end of which in 1998, the above-mentioned Agreement was signed, where Russia declared that it was “ripe” for dividing the Caspian Sea. Its main principle was the provision of "water is common - divide the bottom."

Taking into account the fact that some Caspian states, namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia, reached agreement on the conditional delimitation of spaces in the Caspian Sea, it can be concluded that they are actually satisfied with the already established regime with the section of its bottom along the modified median line and the sharing of the surface reservoir for shipping and fishing.

However, the lack of complete clarity and unity in the positions of all coastal countries prevents the Caspian states themselves from developing oil production. And oil is key to them.With regard to their reserves in the Caspian Sea, unambiguous data are not available. According to the US Energy Information Agency 2003, the Caspian was ranked second in oil reserves and third in gas reserves. The data of the Russian side are different: they speak about the artificial overestimate by Western experts of the energy resources of the Caspian Sea. Differences in estimates are due to the political and economic interests of regional and external players. The factor of data distortion has become the geopolitical significance of the region with which the US and EU foreign policy plans are associated. Back in 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski expressed the opinion that this region is the “Eurasian Balkans”.


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And in fact, not everyone probably knows How many oceans in the world? Let's remember the killer waves. Here I will remind you also that there is a Sea without coasts and recently the Long-lost continent was discovered on the ocean floor. See also what happens at the bottom of the world

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