Tuesday, June 19, 2012 -
Tempers flared Tuesday between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan over a disputed oil-rich section of the Caspian Sea.
Turkmenistan said its vessel carrying out “research” in the contested zone was confronted by Azeri border guards who took “illegal measures” against it.
The Turkmen foreign ministry said in the statement it was officially protesting over what it called were “provocations” by the Azeri government.
The trans-boundary oil and gas field is known as Kapaz by Azerbaijan and Serdar by Turkmenistan.
A day earlier, Azeri authorities summed the Turkmen ambassador to Baku to lodge their own protest against what they said were Turkmenistan’s “illegal attempts” to begin seismic work in the disputed area.
Azerbaijan called the actions “unacceptable” and said Azerbaijan “reserves the right to take measures to protect its sovereign rights in the Caspian Sea,” the Azeri ABC news agency reported.
Turkmenistan had earlier rejected Baku’s offer to jointly develop the field, saying the structure solely belongs to Turkmenistan, according to ABC.az.
In 2008, the presidents of both countries agreed that neither side should explore or produce the area until they had resolved their delimitation disputes.
The Caspian Sea is surrounded by three states other than Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan: Kazakhstan, Russia, and Iran. The five have been locked in arguments over the maritime boundaries of the inland sea since the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago.