Role of Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan relations in process of integration of Turkic Council
BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 19
By Elmar Yusifli – Trend:
Although after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, there were disagreements in relations between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan over some issues. these relations have reached the level of strategic partnership over the past five years.
The main spheres of bilateral cooperation are the transport, transit and logistics sectors, as well as the transportation of energy resources.
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are significant participants in such transcontinental transport corridors as TRACECA, Lapis Lazuli, Caspian Sea - Black Sea, East – West as the shortest route connecting the Caucasus and Central Asia passes through the Caspian Sea coast of these countries.
The contracts concluded by Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over the past five years, as well as the Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat and the Turkmenbashi International Sea Port opened in 2018, contributed to a great increase in trade turnover between the two countries, as well as transportation time has greatly decreased.
Azerbaijan’s favorable geographical location has made the country a ‘window to Europe’ for Turkmenistan. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway has gained significant importance for the transportation of goods from Turkmenistan to Turkey and Europe, as well as in the opposite direction.
This, in particular, created the conditions for the cargo transportation of such member-states of the Turkic Council as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, which are mainly exporters of energy resources and raw materials, which in turn serves to expand the prospects for the development of the Turkic Council.
Thus, BTK has reduced the delivery time of goods from one part of Eurasia to other part up to 15 days thanks to which water is transported by twofold faster and more profitably than by air.
The Lapis Lazuli international route, passing through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia and launched in 2018, allows cargo transportation from Afghanistan to Turkey and vice versa. Despite Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan do not have access to the World Ocean, this route increases the strategic importance of the geographical location of these countries.
The connection of the Lapis Lazuli route to the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, by increasing the export potential of the countries through which the route passes, reduces the transport costs to a minimum.
The Convention, in connection with the legal status of the Caspian Sea, adopted in 2018, increased the international interest in the Caspian region, rich in oil and gas resources, and created new prospects for its integration into the interregional economic space.
Another important issue is transportation of the Turkmen gas to the European markets through the Southern Gas Corridor. For this purpose, it is planned to implement the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project, within which a 300-kilometer gas pipeline will be laid along the bottom of the Caspian Sea.
This project is extremely attractive from the point of view of diversification of export of big energy resources of Turkmenistan. Azerbaijan’s infrastructure in this regard is a key one. Thanks to this, Turkmenistan, which mainly depends on the Chinese market (approximately 80 percent), may open for other potential energy consumers.
In case of the implementation of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan will be able to meet about 7-10 percent (450-500 billion cubic meters of gas) of Europe's annual demand for natural gas, which will further strengthen the relations between the two countries.
Another pressing issue is the joint laying of a fiber-optic communication line along the bottom of the Caspian Sea between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, as well as joint activity on its use and management. Thus, the project being implemented within the Azerbaijan Digital Hub program serves to optimize internet communication between Europe and Asia (Digital Silk Road).
Having implemented the project, Azerbaijan intends to become not only a transport and energy hub in Europe and Asia, but also a digital one.
The project has great potential from an economic point of view, and if Azerbaijan is able to attract investments for its implementation, it will be also beneficial for the ICT industry of other countries of the Turkic Council.
All the mentioned transport projects will increase the dividends that Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan may receive from the non-oil sector and will also create the images of reliable partners in the region for our countries.
The joint participation in the abovementioned projects, as well as the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran and Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman railways, creates the new transit opportunities for Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
This, in turn, increasing the transit capabilities of the member-states of the Turkic Council, which are located between East and West, promises new dividends in the economic, political, transport and transit and digital sectors.
Thus, the possible development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in various fields strengthens the role of the Turkic Council in the international arena.