Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 149

Yesterday’s Nezavisimaya gazeta reports that Russia’s Foreign Ministry has rejected a US proposal to call an international conference on the Caspian Sea problem under the auspices of the International Energy Agency. The US proposal had been submitted in late October and reflected Washington’s position that Caspian littoral countries have a legal title to the mineral resources in their offshore waters. The proposal was in line with the US support for sectoral division of the Caspian Sea among the sovereign coastal states, as expressed in president Bill Clinton’s May 1995 letter to Azerbaijan’s president Heydar Aliyev. (17)

Lacking oil and gas deposits in its own waters, Russia wants a new legal status of the Caspian to stipulate that the Caspian is indivisible and that each coastal country’s offshore minerals are common property. It maintains moreover that such a status is a matter solely for the coastal states to decide. Russia professes to base its position on its 1921 and 1940 treaties with Iran, which regarded the Caspian as indivisible in terms of fishing and navigation rights. But the two treaties say nothing about mineral rights, which is why Moscow seeks a new treaty that would also commit the three newly independent countries. Negotiations among the five coastal countries at deputy foreign ministers’ level have frustrated Moscow’s goal. The Foreign Ministry is blaming the resistance on Western interference.

1. Reuter, December 7

2. Interfax, December 6

3. Interfax- Eurasia, December 6

4. Reuter, December 7

5. AP, Itar-Tass, December 5

6. Itar-Tass, December 5

7. Reuter, December 7

8. Interfax, December 6

9. Interfax, December 6

10. Interfax, December 6

11. Russian TV, Interfax, December 5

12. Interfax, December 4 through 6; Russian TV, December 5; UPI, December 6

13. UPI, December 6

14. UPI, December 6

15. Interfax, December 6

16. Interfax-Ukraine and Reuter, December 6

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