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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Says It Will Compromise on Caspian

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Russia is prepared to compromise on defining the status of the Caspian Sea, an issue crucial for determining rights over oil and other resources, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov said Monday.

"Russia has decided to take a serious step toward 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 Baku, the Azeri capital, with President Heidar Aliyev.

Pastukhov said the Russian side proposed dividing the seabed of the Caspian, while leaving the surface and the body of water itself available for shared use, thus ensuring freedom for navigation and preservation of bioresources.

"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 seabed, using median lines on the principle of equal distance from the shore.

These pragmatic dividing lines would be confirmed by bilateral agreements 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 bioresources, 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 while taking into account its preservation for future generations.

"We are now for the first time in history attempting to define its status and we must try and do it in a way which is acceptable to all," he said, adding that the sea bed should be divided on the basis of international norms.

Aliyev made Russia an official proposal to include in the talks the issue of the demilitarization of the Caspian.