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Source: Russian Federation Government

Dmitry Medvedev takes part in the International Conference “Caspian Sea: Benefits of Developing International Economic Cooperation.”

The decision to organise the first Caspian Economic Forum was made at the fifth Caspian Summit held on 12 August 2018 in Aktau, Republic of Kazakhstan. Following the summit, the presidents of the Caspian states adopted a statement reflecting their initiative to organise the first Caspian Economic Forum in 2019 in Turkmenistan. This event is designed to become an important link in the implementation of agreements and further promotion of cooperation in the Caspian region. The forum participants will focus on such issues as expanding trade, economic and transport cooperation, creating conditions for large projects, the role of the Caspian regional economy in the global context and attracting investment in various economic sectors of the Caspian states.

Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks at the International Conference “Caspian Sea: Benefits of Developing International Economic Cooperation”:

Good afternoon, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I would like to offer words of appreciation and gratitude to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and all our Turkmenistani colleagues for the invitation to speak at the First Caspian Economic Forum, and for the warmth and hospitality with which we were greeted in Turkmenistan.

It is no coincidence that we have gathered at the Avaza tourist area today, on Caspian Sea Day, to discuss all the concerns of the littoral states and our neighbours in the region. There are plenty of problems. My colleagues just mentioned them. We also need to talk about new opportunities for investing in the oil and gas industry, electric energy, transport, tourism and agriculture, in energy and transport projects, and, of course, environmental problems.

This forum has a special objective, which is to supplement the multi-level system of cooperation within the Caspian Five with an efficient and up-to-date mechanism of coordination in business, trade and the economy. We must reinforce important political decisions with specific mutually beneficial projects, including projects that involve third countries. This is why heads of government representing non-Caspian states are also attending the forum. The Caspian region must be as open to economic cooperation as possible.

As one of the speakers said just now, a balanced and internationally recognised legal framework for developing this cooperation is already in place. Exactly one year ago, on 12 August 2018, we signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. It is a foundational document. Russia is committed to ratifying the Convention in the near future. Signing the Convention was, without an exaggeration, a historic event. Behind this document are years of work. I remember working with my colleagues on the Convention. It is our shared success and confirmation of the fact that we can arrive at mutually rewarding decisions. And we can do it in a peaceful manner, without externally imposed formulas, while respecting each other’s interests and, most importantly, equally sharing both the rights to the natural wealth of the Caspian region and the responsibility for its future.

Today’s agenda focuses on economic and environmental issues, but they are inseparable from the threats our countries face in one way or another. These include terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime, uncontrolled migration, and many other threats. Hotbeds of tension can be found in the direct vicinity of the Caspian Sea region. It is for this reason that we have to be aware of the responsibility that rests with Caspian states.

The Caspian Sea region has always been at the crossroads of geopolitical and economic interests of a number of major powers, political forces and businesses, as well as various ethnic groups and religions. It has recently emerged as one of the focal points in global politics, for obvious reasons. Primarily, this status is due to the region’s natural resources. Together with the Persian Gulf countries, the Caspian Sea region forms the so-called energy ellipse that accounts for about 70 percent of global oil reserves and 40 percent of natural gas reserves. This is a major geostrategic advantage for Caspian states, and a key area of cooperation.

However, in today’s world economics cannot be reduced to oil and gas extraction. Digital technology, clean energy and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as free movement of goods and services are the factors that make countries strong and competitive.

As countries of the Caspian Sea region, we must not stand aside from these trends. The economic profile of our countries should not be reduced to raw materials and has to be much broader. What the Caspian Sea region needs in the 21st century are streamlined transport infrastructure, high-technology and safe manufacturing, incentives to attract investors and unrivalled tourism products. These are the sectors we must prioritise in the years to come. I can tell you right away that Russia is ready to move in this direction.

More to be posted soon…

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