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#11 - JRL 7256
Russia Insists on Dividing Caspian Sea Floor along Central Line

MOSCOW, July 18. Russia is to insist on dividing the Caspian Sea floor along a modified central line as 'the optimal way of resolving the problem of the Caspian's status.' This was announced at a press conference today by Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny. Russia believes that only the sea floor should be divided and the waters should remain free for all Caspian states to use.

Iran is proposing an 'arithmetic solution' that would divide the sea floor into five equal portions. Kalyuzhny said that this was unacceptable for Russia. 'We see dividing the sea floor along a central line as the fairest solution,' he added. 'This would mean that Russia receives 19% of the sea floor and Kazakhstan 29%. However, unlike Iran, we don't see this as damaging to our interests.'

Kalyuzhny said that the situation in the Caspian was generally working out well, especially collaboration between Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in the energy sector. In June a number of highly important documents were ratified by all three countries. 'The Caspian is completely open to business and investment,' said the deputy minister. He stressed that Russia would make sure that Caspian oil and gas were transported through its territory, adding 'our infrastructure is ready for this.'

A draft convention on the Caspian's legal status will be discussed in Moscow on July 22-24 at a meeting of the working group on settling the Caspian's status. Kalyuzhny said that almost one third of the convention has already been agreed. Related shipping, meteorological and environmental protection agreements will also be discussed at the meeting.

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