All hands on deck: the Caspian sails towards Eurasia integration, by Pepe Escobar

Step by step Russian and China are leading the Eurasian countries towards cooperation and consolidation, whether the US likes it or not. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

The five states surrounding the sea – Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan – have reached difficult compromises on sovereign and exclusive rights as well as freedom of navigation

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev walk along a  Caspian Sea embankment while participating in the Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan. Photo: Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev walk along a Caspian Sea embankment while participating in the Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan. Photo: Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi
The long-awaited deal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea signed on Sunday in the Kazakh port of Aktau is a defining moment in the ongoing, massive drive towards Eurasia integration.

Up to the early 19th century, the quintessentially Eurasian body of water – a connectivity corridor between Asia and Europe over a wealth of oil and gas – was exclusive Persian property. Imperial Russia then took over the northern margin. After the break up of the USSR, the Caspian ended up being shared by five states; Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

The long-awaited deal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea signed on Sunday in the Kazakh port of Aktau is a defining moment in the ongoing, massive drive towards Eurasia integration.

Up to the early 19th century, the quintessentially Eurasian body of water – a connectivity corridor between Asia and Europe over a wealth of oil and gas – was exclusive Persian property. Imperial Russia then took over the northern margin. After the break up of the USSR, the Caspian ended up being shared by five states; Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

CaspianSeaAI

Very complex negotiations went on for almost two decades. Was the Caspian a sea or a lake? Should it be divided between the five states into separate, sovereign tracts or developed as a sort of condominium?

Slowly but surely, the five states reached difficult compromises on sovereign and exclusive rights; freedom of navigation; “freedom of access of all the vessels from the Caspian Sea to the world’s oceans and back” – in the words of a Kazakh diplomat; pipeline installation; and crucially, on a military level, the certitude that only armed forces from the five littoral states should be allowed in Caspian waters.

No wonder then that President Putin, in Aktau, described the deal in no uncertain terms as having “epoch-making significance.”

To continue reading: All hands on deck: the Caspian sails towards Eurasia integration

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