5 November 2003


NEW YORK, 4 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is a statement issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The adoption today, in Tehran, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, is a significant step forward for the region.  The countries that share responsibility for the largest inland body of water on Earth -- Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan -- are sending a message to their people and to the world that multilateral cooperation for sustainable development is not only essential, but possible.

Today’s signing ceremony marks the culmination of a process that began nearly a decade ago, and has been supported throughout by the United Nations. The Caspian Environment Programme, established by the five countries in 1998, has given us a clearer idea of the threats faced by the region’s ecosystems. The Framework Convention now provides a mechanism to address those challenges.

The Secretary-General commends the governments of the Caspian Sea States for their bold initiative and their commitment to sustainable development.  Once it has been ratified, this landmark treaty -- which is the first legally binding agreement between all five nations that share the Caspian Sea -- will benefit the health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.

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