CASPIAN CLUB: AUTHORIZED ENTRY ONLY
It was with a difference of nearly twenty calendar years that Ashgabat hosted another Caspian summit, thus becoming the first two-time host city of the summit of the heads of the Caspian states.
Running oneís mind over this considerable historical period of two decades, it is easy to trace the dynamics of changing trends in approaches to the title topic on the part of the participating countries. A difficult path was travelled from the first (Ashgabat) summit to the fifth meeting of the leaders of the countries (in Aktau), from disagreements and even confrontation to the development of a common position, crowned by the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea.
The current summit discussed topical issues relating to cooperation in the Caspian Sea in various fields and implementation of decisions taken at previous meetings. A joint communiqu'e was adopted confirming the principles of the activities of the littoral states of the region, including ensuring security and stability in the region; ensuring a stable balance of armaments of littoral states; military development within reasonable sufficiency, taking into account the interests and undiminished security of all littoral states; observance of the agreed confidence-building measures in the sphere of military activities in a spirit of predictability and transparency; ban on the presence in the Caspian Sea of armed forces that do not belong to the five littoral states; non-provision by a littoral state of its territory to third countries for military operations against another littoral state.
It is notable that the newly adopted final document emphatically prohibits any attempts whatsoever of possible involvement of the third countries in solving the Caspian Sea problems. The Caspian Sea has finally acquired the status of a closed club that no outsider can enter without approval of all five founders.
The summit was the first serious test for the young head of the Turkmen state, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, in terms of holding a major international forum. One should note that he brilliantly handled the burden of responsibility, not growing timid in the company of political heavyweights. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin arrived in Ashgabat to participate in the summit.
The President of Turkmenistan held bilateral meetings with the heads of the Caspian states before the start of the summit.
Then, during the five-sided talks of the leaders of the countries of the Caspian region in the narrow and enlarged formats, the sides discussed issues relating to the implementation of the potential of the Caspian Sea and strengthening its status as a sea of peace, friendship and harmony.
The sides noted that in the current conditions the primary task is to maintain lasting peace, security and stability in the Caspian Sea region, provide political and legal guarantees for development of this region. Other urgent tasks in the field of security include joint counteraction to terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime and any other illegal activities.
The heads of the Caspian states paid special attention to development of economic partnership in the region and the transport-transit sector in particular. In this regard, it was noted that the littoral states should work seriously on the construction and modernization of port infrastructure, building effective logistics schemes to turn the Caspian region into a comfortable and modern space for international flows of goods and services, free from political competition.
In particular, speaking of the transport importance of the Caspian Sea, the President of Turkmenistan stressed that in this area it is possible to set an ambitious but realistic goal of making it an integral part of the revived the Great Silk Road.
During the talks, the sides discussed cooperation in the field of science, nature protection, culture and tourism in the Caspian region.
Concluding the summit, the President of Turkmenistan thanked his foreign colleagues and all delegations for the constructive work, focus on achieving practical results, as well as for valuable ideas and proposals. The sixth Caspian summit finished with the adoption of a relevant communiqu'e.
The outcomes of the five-sided Ashgabat summit were summed up in a statement for press by Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov.
On the sidelines of the summit, the head of the upper house of the Turkmen Parliament, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, held bilateral meetings with the Presidents of the Caspian states who arrived in Ashgabat to participate in the sixth Caspian summit. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin congratulated the ex-president of Turkmenistan on his 65th birthday. The sides also discussed issues relating to development of cooperation between the states of the Caspian region in various fields.
A day earlier, the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (CMFA) of the Caspian states held a meeting in Ashgabat ahead of the sixth Caspian summit. The Foreign Ministers of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation discussed issues to be included in the agenda of the summit, as well as certain aspects of cooperation in the Caspian region and the implementation of the agreements reached earlier.
It was noted that the Caspian states currently work on the drafts of important agreements and protocols on a wide range of areas of cooperation in the Caspian Sea. It was also emphasized that despite the volatility of regional and global processes and emergence of new realities, the priorities of Caspian cooperation remain unchanged. Ensuring lasting peace and stability in the Caspian region, as well as comprehensive and indivisible security remains one of the main tasks of cooperation in the five-sided format.
At the Ministerial Council meeting, the Turkmen side noted the importance of preservation of the Caspian Sea as a space free from political disagreements, potential conflicts, misunderstanding and mistrust. Ashgabat called on the Caspian states to reliably protect the Caspian region from external threats and challenges, in particular, terrorism, organized transnational crime, drug trafficking and any other illegal activities.