Multidimensional outlook of the Caspian Sea:
Unilateralism and Isolationism are unknown to the highly interconnected Caspian system which is largely dependent on territorial integrity and the concept of sovereignty. The Caspian Sea has grabbed the attention of the international community with the fast-growing energy trends in the modern globalized market economy. The world’s largest inland body of water, the Caspian Sea is surrounded by TARIK (Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan). It holds an established 50 billion barrels of oil and nearly 8.4 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves with the largest source of 80-90% of the world’s caviar.
Progress in energy sector is taking place with the collaboration of foreign actors and also the amended initiative being taken at the national level on both eastern and western coasts of the Caspian Sea this is the multidimensional outlook. The Multidimensional outlook of the Caspian Sea is described in a good and understandable way for our readers.
The Trans-Caspian component can be a win-win for all if the concept of integration becomes the only priority of the Caspian states, otherwise the decade long conflict will only remain the source of ultimate tension within the region. The region in one way or another connects Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Europe and is bearing with the political agendas and states’ policies of world’s giant and emerging economies due to the strategic importance. There is a need for a multidimensional international outlook and savvy diplomacy to give direction to the Caspian Sea economy in order to observe peace, stability, and integration.
“Multidimensional outlook of the Caspian Sea”. The region should extend the cooperation into the EU’s strategic pool as a partner in security, energy, and economy. This is the high time to formulate diversified market principles to give a boost to the Caspian economy. Sustained political dialogue is needed to address the differences and to enlarge the economy based on mutual cooperation but with balanced political and economic reforms. The Caspian region is in dire need of integration into the Euro-Atlantic space. The conventional and multinational risks do threaten the region which is demanding regional cooperation.
The prolonged conflict:
Territorial clarity is required in order to instill the modern structures of peace, integration, and cooperation. The unresolved border conflicts have only resulted in chaos which not only brings about the political disorders but narrows down the economic paradigms and stimulates the never-ending concept of ethnocentrism and nationalism, a fact which contradicts the logic of modern globalized integrated economy and society. Under such circumstances, the protracted conflicts impede the development of the states on all grounds and slow down the process of prosperity.
Following the Soviet disintegration, the Caspian region has crippled by the issues of division, inequality, and directionless leadership which brought about the failure of the state. Since then, the legal status of the Caspian Sea has been the center of a dispute among the shoreline states for decades. Classifying the division of the Caspian Sea as a lake or a sea has remained the center of negotiations among the stakeholders for years.
Defining it as a lake would mean the equal division to all five states while defining it as a sea would eventually require splitting it in a proportion to each nation’s share of coastline according to International Maritime Law.
The five nations signed the “Convention on the Legal Status of Caspian Sea” in August 2018 to settle several disputes. The pact takes both approaches in a compromise, treating the surface as international water and dividing the seabed into the territorial zones. It forbids any power without a Caspian shoreline to set up a military presence.
The convention might open up a path for security and economic cooperation among countries such as the underwater pipeline project to bring Central Asia’s energy to the European market, but the reality is quite opposite despite the several attempts to bring peace and develop the region economically, socially, scientifically, politically and so forth.
The Gilded Caspian Energy Resources; Risks and Opportunities:
Caspian, a landlocked sea, is situated between two major energy consumers, China and Europe, and energy producers namely, Russia and the Middle East. For assuring and reviving the security of the Caspian economy, the energy sector serves the interests to the maximum extent. The worth of the Caspian’s natural resources is being known not only to the surrounding states but also to Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
There are two dimensions which must be considered, production and transport. The region is in the dire need to establish its roots in the external markets by gaining the direct access to the foreign economy and to formulate the open energy resource allocation policy to produce the desired outcome from the valuable natural resources. States are focusing on enhancing the technology to maximize the production yield.
Azerbaijan, a rich state in oil and natural gas, is considered one of the most important spots in the world for oil exploration, is designing open-door investment policy which can serve the national and regional interests along with assuring stability in the Caspian region. These friendly policies are helping to develop competitive energy companies with assets in the third markets. States are aware of the significance of Caspian energy and therefore the international actors on the stage do not surprise Europe and China too.
The engagement of European states and the world’s economic giant, China should be ensured on both ends of the Caspian Sea, otherwise, the result would be the dissection of the Caspian market, which is intimidating as it would undermine the logic behind the diversity in energy exports and strategic depth to the notion of regional partnership.
The multidimensional outlook of the Caspian Sea and The importance of Russian role in the region and in the regional energy sector cannot be denied. The friendly designed policies by Azerbaijan need to be entertained by Russia for the sake of security, equal partnership, greater net income, and economic development within the region. Caspian Energy is a conduit to enhance Europe’s supply reliability and reduces the economic market risks, which will ultimately result in cultivating regional cooperation and flourishing the regional economy.
The mismanagement in the energy sector can bring about chaos within the region which will further threaten the survival of the states. The high risk is attached to the reliance on the single market which further makes the GDP growth static. The infrastructure based on the multidimensional approaches is required to resolve the issues of Caspian energy sector in order to avoid the further destabilization, risks and shocks to the maximum possible level and to ensure the peace in the region by developing a sound economy.
A Trans-Caspian Vibe:
The resourceful Caspian Sea, enriched in natural reserves, holds not only strategic significance but also is being considered an epicenter for the meeting point of the Eurasian states. Its relevancy as an important geo-political zone demands to development of the region into a global economy.
The chances of economic growth accelerate as the region is buffered by massive economies like the EU, Turkey, Russia, and China. The world’s modern globalized economy is based on the well-knitted infrastructure of technology, which eases the flow of goods across the globe.
The export of raw material in the Caspian region, is maintaining the current regional economic outlook while the import is largely based on the processed and refined material. The disequilibrium present between the imports and exports is widening the globalization gaps within the region which further impedes the development of the Caspian economy.
States are investing in IT, education, and modern modes of trade. The collective focus should be made on shaping a region based on an innovative structure with a knowledge-based economy.
The Trans-Caspian dimension withholds not only political but also social integration which paves the ways for mutual co-operation without any discrimination beyond and across the regional boundaries. The region should extend the integration into the EU’s strategic pool as a collaborative partner in security, energy, and economy.
The sustained political dialogue is needed to address the differences and to revive the economy based on mutual co-operation but with the balanced political and economic reform and also to mitigate the risks present in the region.
Way Forward to restore the peace and revive the economy:
- There is a need to module the energy sector of the Caspian region on modern technological grounds in order to gain the maximum economic benefits. Energy efficiencies could increase from 51% to 67% in 2030 with economic benefits. Investment of USD 100 billion in infrastructures, new plants, and technologies is needed.
- Cooperation is a key to explore the maximum outputs which the region offers by unveiling the concealed reserves of gas and oil. There is a need to explore new directions with the texture of openness in the terms of values and norms.
- The Caspian Sea is suffering from an acute ecological crisis due to the drilling of natural reserves. There is a need for environmental-friendly policies with the new directions in order to protect the region from chaos.
- Caviar is reducing at a faster pace which is considered as an asset of the Caspian Sea. Immediate policies should be designed to protect the underwater natural lives and to formulate the strategies to gain the maximum economic benefits from the caviar.
- The initiative of peaceful settlement of the conflicts by Azerbaijan with Iran is constructive. Savvy diplomacy with genuine cooperation is the only option for maintaining peace in the region.
- Iran is emphasizing making additional agreements to divide the seabed mineral wealth. Cooperation is needed to demilitarize the region. The Caspian states should focus on the objective of functional economic order. Only then, the productive development of the economy will hold the fortune of the Caspian region.
- The region is on the rebound. Maximum energy outflow and income inflow should be prioritized, to develop a strong economic base, in order to turn the Caspian region into the global economic forum and also to ensure the sustainable economic growth.
- There is an emergency of income inequality which must be realized on urgent basis otherwise the region will suffer from another menace of destabilization. The provision of equal rights to locals and opportunity to the domestic market within the region would help in gaining economic benefits.
- Plans should be introduced by focusing on the development of the non-oil sector of the economy with the revival of the advanced infrastructure of IT, Tourism, agriculture, etc.
- There should be an acknowledgment of the knowledge-based economy. Therefore, much focus should be made on education and the modern scientific innovations that can ultimately bring integration to the Caspian region. The focus should be made on the European-based strategies in order to restore peace in the region.
- For an advanced economy, the Caspian region’s priority should be on the modern and well equipped technology for shaping the home markets. Along with this, external relations need to be secured.
- This is the high time to pay attention to the break chains of a conventional export system based on raw material exchange. Introducing a modern economic platform for the Caspian region is a necessity that must ensure the development of the regional and global market economy beyond the energy sector.
- The implementation of IPAP with NATO, and ENP Action Plan with EU by Azerbaijan to deal with the threats of the Caspian Sea is quite active at present. These initiatives need to be appraised and must be considered by the policy makers of the other states in order to deal with the ongoing security and political risks within the region.
- Connecting Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan with Azerbaijan, direct access to Europe can be observed in the East Caspian markets while China can make a huge market in Azerbaijan’s economic arena. It will eventually result in a win-win situation for all involved states.
- The infrastructure should be renovated on the following grounds which must include:-
- The roads and railway network for the rapid outflow of cargo with cost effective policies, the expansion of airports needs to be added across the region to connect the world’s global economies.
- Building the logistic parks to facilitate the transit and trade making it a major hub of trade, such modern parks would attract foreign direct investment.
- The control system on the borders will further ensure security and accountability along with the speedy delivery of goods.
- The commerce industry needs to be flourished in its connection with the economy.
- The exchange of modern information needs to be insured in the region by upgrading the Wi-Fi lines. An economy based on modernized information and technology ensures peace, prosperity, and stability.
European perspective in the regional context provides a stable and multidimensional outlook for the Caspian Sea. The need of the hour is to bring regional integration at both internal and external levels. The region needs efficient policies with optimistic brains to rebuild the economic infrastructure.
Along with flattening the regional curve, there is a need to enhance the connectivity between Europe and Asia and also Russia with the Middle East. The effective utilization of resources with mutual cooperation will not only ease the regional tensions but will also make the Caspian Sea a paradise on earth.
The multidimensional outlook of the Caspian Sea is discussed in this article.
The current situation presents a dismaying picture and is opposite to reality. While the states are already under the stress of global pandemic, the border tensions, political disputes, regional stress can further exacerbate the façade if the international actors will continue the zero sum game policy.
The unstable relations of the Caspian states are hindering the development of the naturally enriched region. The political agendas need to be in line with the economic priorities. Not only the revival of the economy is a matter of concern but it holds detailed chapters on security, politics, culture, trade, and social norms.
The frozen conflict needs to be resolved on the immediate basis in order to establish a hub of trade among China, Russia, and Europe. The connectivity of Iran, China, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan would eventually create a pool of resources which will not only benefit on the economic grounds but will secure the interests of the states against the rival countries.
The states should strive to achieve harmony, peace, and cooperation as the conflicts will only result in disaster.
The stability within the regional states will predict and comprehend the terms of Caspian states with the outer world. The connection between the Caspian region and Europe cannot be determined through the zero-sum game strategy. It is not only the Caspian states which would be benefitted by the enhanced economic co-operation but the world’s emerging economies have also associated their interests with the region. In the end, the results are based on the quality of cooperation and integration among the Caspian states.
This Article is written by Ms. Zunaira Khan, who studied Masters’ in Diplomacy and Strategic Studies. She is a Research Associate, Analyst Creative Writer, and Public Relations, diplomat. She is the former Social Media head of “Read Pakistan”. Moreover, She is a board member of Read Pakistan and is Interested in Geopolitics, Geo-economics, the Eurasian region, the global economic and Political system, the European region, and Diplomacy.