KAZAKHSTAN DIPLOMACY IN DEFINING THE LEGAL STATUS OF THE CASPIAN SEA: 1991-2017
Yerkinay ONGAROVA, Aidarbek AMIRBEK, Azhar SERIKKALIYEVA, Makpal ANLAMASSOVA
Yerkinay Ongarova, D.Sc. (International Relations), Lecturer, Türksoy Department, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
Aidarbek Amirbek, D.Sc. (International Relations), Acting Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Khoja Akhmet Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University (Turkestan, Kazakhstan)
Azhar Serikkaliyeva, D.Sc. (Oriental Studies), Acting Associate Professor, Department of Chinese Stidies, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
Makpal Anlamassova, D.Sc. (Political Science and International Relations), senior lecturer, Department of International Relations, Khoja Akhmet Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University (Turkestan, Kazakhstan)
This article considers the issue of the legal status of the Caspian Sea, its historical background, the key documents that currently regulate various aspects of this status, and the specifics of Kazakhstan’s policy on this issue in a broad international context. The need to determine the legal status of the Caspian Sea arose after the breakup of the U.S.S.R., when the emergence of new entities of international law—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan—made it necessary to divide the waters and seabed of the Caspian between five countries. The efforts to determine the status of the Caspian are seriously hindered, in particular, by the unresolved issue of whether it should be classified as a lake or a sea: the delimitation of lakes and seas between littoral countries is governed by different rules of international law. Kazakhstan owns a large part of the Caspian seabed and Caspian oil and gas reserves, which is why it is highly interested in defining the status of the Caspian Sea. Owing to its multilateral cooperation diplomacy, Kazakhstan has earned the reputation of the main initiator of many undertakings in this area. The fifth Caspian Summit to be held in Kazakhstan will provide new opportunities for Kazakhstan diplomacy to take an active part in resolving the existing problems and enhancing the country’s prestige in the international arena.
The purpose of this study is to analyze the strategic diplomacy of Kazakhstan in matters of defining the status of the Caspian Sea in the period from 1991 to 2017.
The countries of the Caspian region demonstrate different approaches to the problem of the legal status of the Caspian, determined by both historical and political contexts. That is why it is important to identify the general and specific in regional political processes and the opportunities to resolve this issue and overcome the existing contradictions. The study is factually based on primary sources. In addition, the authors have analyzed a large body of regional and extra-regional research literature and data collected from the publications and websites of official institutions. The research method used is that of general qualitative analysis.
The study is divided into the following sections: the main characteristics of Kazakhstan’s position on the status of the Caspian Sea; Kazakhstan’s agreements with Russia and Azerbaijan on the delimitation of the Caspian Sea in the period from 1998 to 2003; the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Tehran Convention) of November 2003; an analysis of the first four Caspian summits; and Kazakhstan’s “diplomatic maneuvers” strategy in the period from 1998 to 2017.