All Caspian Sea littoral states (Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) have the right to take part in the environmental reviews of cross-border projects, which can affect the Caspian Sea environment, First Deputy Head of the Russian Government Office Sergei Prikhodko said.
"We assume that major Caspian Sea projects should undergo an impartial environmental review," he said when asked about Russia’s attitude towards a potential project of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan.
He stressed that the protocol on environmental impact assessment signed earlier by the five Caspian Sea littoral states "ensures the right of each of the countries located on the Caspian Sea coast to take part in a comprehensive environmental assessment of cross-border maritime activities, which could potentially affect" the Caspian Sea environment, TASS reports.
"This participation is provided starting from the project concept stage," Prikhodko said, adding that the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea signed in August 2018 refers to these obligations, when speaking about the right to build pipelines.
"Therefore, the five Caspian nations jointly confirmed that the absolute priority of the interests of preserving the unique ecosystem of the Caspian Sea over any hypothetical economic projects," he stressed.
Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline
Ashgabat and Baku have long explored the possibility of laying the the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline on the bottom of the Caspian Sea from Turkmenistan’s shore to Azerbaijan and further to Europe through Turkey. The Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea signed on August 12, 2018, stipulates that such projects should be coordinated between the states through whose territorial waters the pipeline will be laid.
However, later on, the Russian Foreign Ministry explained that the construction of the pipeline would require coordination with all five Caspian states (Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) in accordance with the protocol to the 2003 Tehran Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context.
Transit pipelines through the territory of Kazakhstan and Russia are currently the only routes for supplying Turkmen energy resources to the West.