Astana – The Majilis, the lower house of parliament of Kazakhstan, recently ratified the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, which took more than 20 years in the making. The parliament of Turkmenistan has already nodded yes to the agreement.

Earlier on August 12, 2018, the leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan, meeting in the Kazakh port city of Aqtau, signed a new convention on the legal status of the resource-rich Caspian Sea — a matter disputed between the five neighbors for more than two decades.

“As a direct participant in the negotiation process, I can confidently say that the delegations of the five coastal states have done a lot of hard work on the basic document, taking into account the interests of all parties,” Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov was cited as saying during a plenary session of the Majilis on December 26, 2018. “All parties highly appreciated the merits of Kazakhstan in this document, the personal contribution of the head of our state, the success of the summit, his constructive position throughout the entire negotiation process,” he added.

While a report from RFE/RL quoted that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, hailed the agreement between the littoral states, it said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev noted that the nations also agreed to set up a “special mechanism of regular five-party consultations under the auspices of the Foreign Ministries” to implement the provisions of the convention.

The summit was also attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan. With the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union, the Caspian Sea shoreline opened to five countries instead of earlier two — the Soviet Union and Iran. Reports suggest at stake are tremendous amounts of resources including trillions of dollars’ worth of hydrocarbons in the seabed, which holds about 50 billion barrels of oil and nearly 9 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in proven or probable reserves.

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