Final decision on status of Caspian Sea region has not been taken

At the Ashkhabad summit the heads of the five states have not come to a final decision on the status of the Caspian sea, said President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan at a press conference, held in Turkmenistan's capital on Wednesday morning. "The legal status of the Caspian sea region has not been determined yet," Niyazov said, but pointed out that it was natural because "it was the first summit" of the heads of Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Azerbaijan. Meanwhile Niyazov stressed that the presidents would have to work two hours more and try to come to a decision. Turkmenistan's president also said that in the morning he had read through the final document of the summit, prepared by experts and discovered that "everything the heads of the five countries agreed on the day before" had disappeared from the resolution. This document "is unspecific, uncontrollable and meaningless" and only contains recommendations, Niyazov stated. However he hopes that during the next two hours the five presidents will manage to improve the draft of the Ashkhabad declaration. "Without determining the status of the Caspian sea poaching and ecological problems seem impossible to solve," said Niyazov at the press conference. He also repeated that the countries, extracting resources from the sea bottom, worked illegally until the Caspian region status was determined. Turkmenistan's president also hopes that the final decision will satisfy the Caspian five. Otherwise they will have to turn to international organisations such as UN. Russia did not have a clear standpoint, concerning the Caspian problem, announced Niyazov. This statement was quite unexpected because opening the summit on April 23 Vladimir Putin confirmed Russia's standpoint: "We are dividing the bottom, the water belongs to all". Despite Niyazov's statement, Iraq's president Mohammad Khatami believes the first Caspian five summit in Ashkhabad to be a very positive factor. He mentioned it during his bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin. "The idea of holding a summit demonstrates the presidents' firm will to settle all disagreements peacefully," said Khatami

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