The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, ratified at its plenary meeting on Thursday the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, the Duma said in a press release.
The corresponding bill was submitted to the Duma by the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Convention was signed in Aktau, Kazakhstan, on August 12, 2018. The Parties to this Convention are the Caspian littoral States – the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan.
The Convention defines and regulates the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to the use of the Caspian Sea, including its waters, bottom, subsoil, natural resources and airspace over the sea.
The Convention states that the delimitation of the Caspian Sea seabed and subsoil into sectors shall be effected by agreement between States with adjacent and opposite coasts, with due regard to the generally recognized principles and norms of international law.
The Convention further regulates navigation of warships, submarines and other underwater vessels. Importantly, it prohibits the presence of armed forces not belonging to any of the five coastal States.
The Convention also regulates passage to and from the Caspian Sea. It recognizes the rights of all the Parties to access other seas and the ocean freely from the Caspian Sea, and to access for the Parties from other seas and the ocean to the Caspian Sea.
Before the signing of the Convention, Caspian littoral states held negotiations on the legal status of Caspian sea for more than 20 years. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have so far finished the ratification process of the Convention. Iran is expected to begin the ratification process of the document in the near future.
The Convention will enter into force once all signatories have ratified it and deposited the all five instruments of ratification.