Baku, March 5, 2015: the 39th meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the legal status of the Caspian Sea attended by deputy foreign ministers from Azerbaijan (C), Iran (L) and Kazakhstan (R) (source: dpa)

Caspian states jockey for position over its status as sea or lake

The region around the Caspian Sea plays a role in many of the world’s most daunting challenges. From the rise of Islamic extremism to Russia’s resurgence to Iran’s renewed assertiveness, the largest enclosed body of water on earth figures in the problems’ address book. It is rich in natural resources and sandwiched between two of the globe’s most energy hungry markets – Europe and Asia. The tug of war for control of those resources may come down to whether the Caspian is officially designated a sea or a lake, with huge geopolitical implications for the five nations that border it – and for the whole of Europe and the broader region.

To unlock the Caspian’s oil and gas potential, Azerb...

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 Luke Coffey
Moscow finally settled for a two-prong ‘common waters, divided bottom’ approach. Under this policy, Russia aims to maintain surface navigational rights – and therefore naval supremacy – in the Caspian while taking a more pragmatic approach to oil and gas exploration and extraction
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