Division of the Caspian Sea water basin and bottom, and adjustment of the Arctic Sea route status are to be high on the agenda at the current Moscow international conference timed to the 20th Convention on Marine Law.
The status of the Caspian Sea basin is the pivotal question for the five coastal states. As to the division of the Northern Caspian bottom, Russia and Kazakhstan have already signed corresponding bilateral agreements. This region is now swept by intensive geological prospecting with plans to start hydrocarbons extraction in 2004-2005.
The Caspian issue remains outstanding with such states as Azerbaijan, Turkmenia and Iran, said Izmailov. He welcomed serious efforts being taken by the Russian foreign ministry and Viktor Kalyuzhny, the Russian president's special representative on the Caspian sea.
The deputy transport minister emphasized positive shifts in the development of the transport infrastructure in the region after opening the international North-South transport corridor (the Indian coast of the Arabian sea-a land strip across the territory of Iran-further-on by Caspian sea to the Russian port of Olya close to Astrakhan in the mouth of the Volga-then along the Volga-Baltic canal to St.Petersburg on the Baltic sea).
Chinghiz Izmailov singled out another important legal question for Russia, that of defining the status of the Arctic sea route. In experts' view, hesitations in this sphere hamper investment in this branch of navigation.
Under review will be navigation in the Black sea straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles which let through, according to Izmailov, up to 90 million tons of hydrocarbon materials a year.
The deputy minister expressed the hope that the results of the work of the forum would help resolve disputes between Russia and Ukraine concerning state borders in the Black Sea's strait of Kerch.
The conference is attended by Russian naval officers, diplomats, lawyers, experts, regional representatives from St.Petersburg, Murmansk, Novorossiisk and a number of international organisations.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969