Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said that as a Country located between Asia and Europe, Azerbaijan makes a significant contribution to the transport and logistics sector in Eurasia.

President Aliyev made the remarks in a meeting via video conference with Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani & Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on July 2.

“Azerbaijan has established itself as a reliable transit country in the world arena. Our country has become one of the most important new transport and logistics centres in Eurasia,” President Aliyev said.

Commenting on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway that was put into operation in 2017, President Aliyev said that this railway is called the “Iron Silk Road” and connects Continents. “The volume of cargo transported by the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in the first six months of 2020 is 3.7 times higher than the same period in 2019,” Aliyev said.

The President emphasised that a modern transport and logistics infrastructure has been created as a result of large investments in Azerbaijan’s transport sector.

In this regard, President Aliyev reminded that in 2018, the Alat International Sea Trade Port with a capacity of 15 million tons of cargo and 100,000 containers was put into operation. “In the future, the capacity of this port can be increased to 25 million tons of cargo and 1 million containers,” he noted.

The President underlined that Azerbaijan has the largest fleet of 260 ships in the Caspian Sea, noting some facts: 10 ships have been built and 140 ships and platforms have been repaired at the modern shipyard operating in Azerbaijan since 2013.

President Aliyev said that 2 Ropaks Ferries and 3 Oil Tankers are currently under construction at the Plant. “It is planned to build additional ships in 2021. These ships will serve to increase cargo transportation through the Caspian Sea.”

Aliyev also emphasised that at the same time, Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the development of roads.

“Over the past 16 years, 16,000 kilometres of roads have been built in Azerbaijan. According to the latest report of the Davos World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan ranks 27th in the world in terms of road quality. Six international airports have been built in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan ranks 12th in the world in terms of air transport efficiency”.

Speaking about the upgrading of railway infrastructure in Azerbaijan, President Aliyev referred another report of the Davos Economic Forum about Transport.

“According to the latest report of the Davos Economic Forum, Azerbaijan ranks 11th in the world in terms of railway efficiency. In general, according to the report of the Davos Forum, Azerbaijan ranks 34th in the world in terms of the level of transport infrastructure,” said he.

The president also touched upon the East-West transport corridor, saying that it is already fully operational. Regarding that, Aliyev highlighted some important facts:

“In 2019, 8.7 million tons of cargo was transported through this corridor. In the first four months of this year, this figure has already reached 3 million tons. Azerbaijan is also an active participant in the North-South Transport Corridor.

All work has been completed on the Azerbaijani segment of the corridor. 2.1 million tons of cargo was transported through this corridor last year, and 800,000 tons in the first four months of this year.

Within the framework of the East-West transport corridor, Azerbaijan has achieved positive results in cooperation with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Noting his official visit to Turkmenistan in November 2018, Aliyev reminded that during the visit, out of 21 documents signed, 9 documents are related to the transport sector.

“In the first half of 2020, more than 1.5 million tons of cargo was transported to and from Turkmenistan at the Alat International Sea Trade Port. This is 28 per cent more than in the same period last year.

The volume of dry cargo increased by 7.7 times and exceeded 370,000 tons. The Turkmen side has been invited to participate in a consortium to manage the fertiliser terminal to be built in the Port.”

Furthermore, President Aliyev touched upon the Lapis-Lazuli Transport Corridor.

“After the connection of the Lapis Lazuli route with the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in 2018, cargo from Afghanistan has already started to be transported from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, and then to the West. In December 2018, the first test shipment from Afghanistan was delivered to the port of Baku within 12 days.”

He underlined that during January-May of this year, 55,500 tons of cargo was transported through Azerbaijan to and from Afghanistan. Aliyev reminded that at that time, Azerbaijan delivered about 12,000 tons of cargo belonging to Azerbaijan and other countries, to Afghanistan by Cargo Planes.

Aliyev also noted that Azerbaijan also cooperates effectively with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan in a multilateral format. “Our countries always support each other’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders within international organisations.

He stressed that during the pandemic, solidarity and cooperation between countries and within international organisations is important.

“Despite the negative effects of the pandemic, Azerbaijan has taken additional measures to transport transit cargo. International cargo transportation through the East-West transport corridor is carried out without interruption”.

“We must continue our efforts to further increase the capacity of the East-West transport corridor. It is important to unify tariffs to optimise freight”.

“Despite the negative effects of the pandemic, Azerbaijan has taken additional measures to transport transit cargo. International cargo transportation through the East-West transport corridor is carried out without interruption”.

Aliyev noted that the European Union’s interest in the East-West transport corridor is growing. “Donald Tusk, President of the Council of the European Union, who visited Azerbaijan in July 2019, visited the Alat International Sea Trade Port and got acquainted with the port’s capabilities.

Several European Countries have already joined the corridor. Other partner countries are also showing great interest in cargo transportation through the corridor,” said he.

“European & Asian Countries are participants in the East-West Transport Corridor. I think that the topic of today’s meeting, transport and logistics, can be the first step towards practical cooperation between the European Union and the Non-Aligned Movement”.

“I think we can instruct the relevant government members to set up a working group on all sides and cover all the issues we discussed – energy security, oil, oil products and gas supply, the unification of tariffs, customs regulations, new ideas on investment opportunities,” said the president.

“So, we are ready. Issues related to the fibre-optic cable line between Turkmenbashi and Siyazan, this can then be extended to Europe and through Afghanistan to your neighbours. I think we can look at the proposals and approve them, give all the necessary instructions and move this process forward,” President Aliyev concluded.

President Aliyev thanked Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani for his initiative to hold a trilateral meeting. “This meeting is useful in terms of discussing the current state and future development of our cooperation,” said Aliyev.

Furthermore, Aliyev touched upon Azerbaijan’s peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. He highlighted the fact that Azerbaijan has been participating in NATO peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan since 2002.

“We have contributed to peace and stability in Afghanistan by providing military force, multimodal transit, training and financial assistance. The number of peacekeepers in Azerbaijan’s Resolute Support mission has increased by 30 percent in 2018 to 120 people”.

Author: Akbar Mammadov