Baku, March 5, 2015: the 39th meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the legal status of the Caspian Sea attended by deputy foreign ministers from Azerbaijan (C), Iran (L) and Kazakhstan (R) (source: dpa)

Caspian states jockey for position over its status as sea or lake

The region around the Caspian Sea plays a role in many of the world’s most daunting challenges. From the rise of Islamic extremism to Russia’s resurgence to Iran’s renewed assertiveness, the largest enclosed body of water on earth figures in the problems’ address book. It is rich in natural resources and sandwiched between two of the globe’s most energy hungry markets – Europe and Asia. The tug of war for control of those resources may come down to whether the Caspian is officially designated a sea or a lake, with huge geopolitical implications for the five nations that border it – and for the whole of Europe and the broader region.

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 Luke Coffey
The significance of the resources in the Caspian is difficult to overstate. The region boasts an estimated 48 billion barrels of oil and 8.3 trillion cubic metres of natural gas in proven and probable reserves
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