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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

24.09.2014

Interview by Igor Bratchikov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry, ahead of the Fourth Caspian Summit in Astrakhan published in September edition of the “Caspian Energy”

Question: What agreements are being prepared for signing at the 4-th Caspian Summit in Astrakhan? What are Russia’s expectations from this summit?

Answer: Every summit considers the results of what has been already done and an opportunity to give an incentive to the development of relations. The Caspian Summit is of no exception in this regard. The last Summit of the Heads of state of the Caspian Sea region was hosted by Baku in 2010. Since then a big job has been done to coordinate principles of a five-sided cooperation in the sea, which shall underlie a future convention on legal status of the Caspian Sea. In Astrakhan we are to examine and fix the results of this job, and also set up priorities of a five-sided cooperation for a period until the next summit.

As far as the first part of your question is concerned, a number of intergovernmental agreements are ready, targeting promotion of the cooperation between the Caspian countries in certain areas, including preservation and rational use of bioresources of the sea, prevention and elimination of emergency situations in the Caspian Sea, hydrometeorology.

Question: After the Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Caspian littoral states you said the ground for a progress in the talks had been prepared. What kind of progress do you expect?

Answer: The conference of ministers is one of the key links of the Caspian dialogue. Progress at such meetings is possible when the issues discussed by experts require political decisions. In that context, the April Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Caspian littoral states in Moscow was very fruitful. The decisions taken at the conference have been helpful in reaching agreements to be submitted for consideration and, hopefully, approval of our heads of state at the Summit in Astrakhan. I believe the 18-year long process of working on a new legal status of the Caspian Sea would get a required acceleration after Astrakhan.

Question: Which is the key aspect for Russia in the ongoing negotiation process on the legal status of the Caspian Sea: legislative, economic or environmental? Could you please speak about each of them in details?

Answer: All the mentioned aspects are interrelated. A convention on legal status of the Caspian Sea is to be a core document for a five-sided cooperation. Nothing but a convention should create a reliable mechanism for protecting of sovereign rights of the littoral states in the Caspian Sea. Simultaneously, without compromising the talks on a legal status, we are working on international legal treaties that cover specific areas of cooperation, including economy, ecology and other areas of common interest. I would like to mention the 2007 Tehran Convention on Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea and the three Protocols to it signed in recent years, the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea signed in Baku in 2010 that opens up good opportunities to jointly address challenges and threats actual for all five states.

Let me suggest that environmental problems, joint economic projects, cooperation between the five states in the field of politics will be included in the agenda of talks between the presidents in Astrakhan as well as still unsettled legal issues on the Caspian Sea.

Question: Will Russia stand for demilitarization of the Caspian Sea?

Answer: Let’s be candid, all littoral states are upgrading their Caspian fleets guided by the interests of own security, which is not limited to the Caspian Sea only. They apply a complex approach, taking into consideration threats coming mainly from non-regional sources, ongoing explosive situations occurring not far from the Caspian region. That is the reason why it would be more appropriate to speak about military construction that does not do any damage to security of neighbouring states, about transparency and predictability of any endeavours in the military sphere.

Question: Is there any success gained in bringing positions of all Caspian states closer to one another and accelerating the process of reaching the consensus by the forthcoming Summit?

Answer: All the parties of the negotiation process have a firm intention to reach mutually acceptable solutions considering the interests of all Caspian states, which would be a long-term basis for close cooperation of the Caspian «5» in future. Discussions are held in constructive atmosphere, in the spirit of trust and understanding of responsibility for the fate of this unique water body. I think such mood predetermines reaching of agreements we need.

Question: Prime Minister of the Russian Federation D.A.Medvedev has recently ordered to stimulate development of the Caspian shelf of Russia. Will the neighbouring Caspian states be involved in new projects?

Answer: The plan of complex promotion of development of crude hydrocarbon fields in the continental shelf of the Russian Federation and in the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea bed, approved by the government early in June 2014, provides administrative and legislative support for corresponding activity, including development of the single approach enabling to more efficiently develop resources of the Caspian seabed sector belonging to Russia. Since it is not the states that deal with development of fields but producing companies, the issue of attracting foreign partners will be solved within the framework of consultations between the responsible Russian bodies and interested economic operators.

Question: Is Russia ready to compromise on the issue of gas pipelining along the Caspian seabed?

Answer: We have a consecutive approach toward this issue which fully complies with existing agreements. The 5 Caspian states assumed a political obligation that all major issues concerning the activity in the Caspian sea will be addressed on the basis of consensus of the littoral states. We think that construction of the main TransCaspian pipelines refers to such types of issues. The consequences of construction and operation of a «pipeline» in the water body that has a high seismic activity and tectonics of its bed are unpredictable, in case of any accident it can impact all coastal states and not only those the shores of which are connected by the pipeline. It can jeopardize vital interests of millions of citizens of the Caspian states either the residents of the Russian Dagestan or densely populated Iranian coast. I’d like the TransCaspian gas pipeline project lobbyists living thousands kilometers away from the Caspian would be conscious of this reality reflected in the Russian position.

Question: Under which investment principles will the «Tsentralnoye» field, owned by the two countries, be developed? Are there any plans to attract foreign investments?

Answer: The oil company “LLC Tsentralnaya Oil and Gas Company” (its co-owners are the Russian Companies LUKoil and Gazprom (25% per each) and Kazakh Company KazMunayGas with 50%), is an operator of the project development of the “Tsentralnoye” field. The preparing and determination of parameters for the production sharing agreement are currently underway. Based on this PSA, it is planned to carry out production of hydrocarbons in compliance with the conditions of the Agreement on delimitation of the bed in the north part of the Caspian Sea reached between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1998. Issues concerning funding of the project, including feasibility study and investments are expected to be solved following the outcomes of the analysis of the results of geological survey operations.




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