Staunton, August 25 – The result of the recent Caspian Economic Forum in Turkmenistan of the five littoral states show that the Caspian, long of place of competition, is “quietly becoming Russian,” thus returning that inland sea to a position very much like in Soviet times, Aleksandr Zapolskis says.
The Regnum commentator says that only a few years ago, many in the West thought that they could dominate the Caspian region, but “in fact, the basic conception of the Caspian convention and the results of the form have been completely based not on a pro-Western but a Russian-Iranian approach” (iarex.ru/articles/69131.html).
Moscow has thus won a signal victory, Zapolskis says; and “the absence of hysteria in Western media means the de facto recognition of the obvious from our geopolitical competitors.” Typically, he says, they become “hysterical” only when they think they have a chance to achieve something; when they don’t, they are quiet.
But if the West did not win out, that does not mean that Russia and with it Iran got everything they wanted. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan pushed for the development of energy projects above all else, while Moscow and Tehran called for balanced development rather than a focus on oil and gas alone.
That division, of course, is the latest form of the difference between those who seek to promote east-west trade (between Central Asia and Europe) and those who want north-south development (between Russia and Iran and the greater Middle East and south Asia), Zapolskis continues.
At this first Caspian summit, he says, “the Russian-Iranian approach won out. In the first instance, participants decided to develop Caspian ports, too improve high infrastructure, and to create the conditions for easing the transportation of goods and services. The Caspian is quietly becoming Russian. And this is a good thing.”