Azerbaijan cements its diplomatic proficiency and global trust - run-up to SPECA summit in Baku

Politics Materials 24 November 2023 10:05 (UTC +04:00)
Azerbaijan cements its diplomatic proficiency and global trust - run-up to SPECA summit in Baku
Maryana Ahmadova
Maryana Ahmadova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, November 24. Azerbaijan has solidified its standing as a reliable partner in various fields. These statements go beyond mere rhetoric, finding support among global leaders and reputable international organizations that have complete confidence in Azerbaijan.

One of these organizations is the UN and its Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA). In this context, it is unsurprising that Azerbaijan is chairing the Program and organizing the SPECA Week in Baku on November 20-24, 2023.

Currently, the participating states in SPECA are Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Established on March 26, 1998, SPECA serves as a special UN program to assist these countries in economic development, cooperation, and integration into the economies of Europe and Asia. SPECA offers a platform for subregional cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that can be best attained through regional collaboration.

The theme of the current forum is “Transforming the SPECA region into a connectivity hub with global outreach”. The nations involved in the program are actively working to enhance their trade and economic ties with both Europe and Asia. Additionally, most of these countries face the challenge of being landlocked, which adds complexity to their global market participation.

The decision to have Azerbaijan host the event under this theme is not unexpected. Azerbaijan, serving as a transit hub in a broad region, is well-equipped to share its experience with partners. The country has generated fresh opportunities for countries in the wider region through significant investments in transport infrastructure over the last three decades. Given that a major global transportation project, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, or the so-called Middle Corridor, traverses a substantial portion of the participating countries in the program, it is evident that this topic will not be overlooked.

The sides will undoubtedly address the assurance of functional compatibility of data across supply chain sectors and relevant modes of transportation along the TITR to improve data exchange efficiency and cross-border goods movement. Azerbaijan is actively engaged in these efforts, specifically focusing on enhancing efficiency, expanding capacity, and streamlining customs procedures within the Middle Corridor.

Initiatives are in progress to increase the Middle Corridor's throughput capacity to 10 million tons by 2025, as outlined in the roadmaps signed between Azerbaijan, Türkiye, and Georgia. An estimated 2 million tons of cargo are anticipated to be transported along the Middle Corridor in 2023.

Furthermore, energy systems in the SPECA region hold significant untapped potential. Collaborating with regional partners, SPECA participating states are actively involved in diversifying energy sources and routes to supply energy resources to global markets. At the same time, these states are building infrastructure to integrate into major projects aimed at boosting renewable energy capacities. They are also expanding regional energy connections and engaging in energy resource trade through cooperative efforts to improve the sustainability and security of the energy system.

In this regard, Azerbaijan's expertise holds exceptional value. Azerbaijan's successful long-term energy strategy has proven its effectiveness in securing access to the European energy market, particularly during challenging periods of diversification obstacles. The country has consistently garnered significant respect from its partners due to its exemplary implementation of projects in the oil and gas industry. An increasing number of countries are seeking access to Azerbaijani gas resources. Moreover, the country also strives to export green energy resources, and potentially even green hydrogen.

Central Asia is a region abundant in resources for the development of renewable energy. Additionally, countries like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan boast substantial hydrocarbon resources. To harness and export these potentials on the global market, Azerbaijan's modern energy infrastructure comes in hand.

Common priorities establish a robust foundation for fostering enduring and sustainable cooperation in strategic areas. At the end of the SPECA Week in Baku, agreements on further collaboration across various directions for the next 25 years are also expected to be reached. The current hosting of this event in Baku is a clear demonstration of the international trust placed in Azerbaijan, underscored by the personal influence of President Ilham Aliyev. The head of state's steadfast commitment to collaboration with each of the SPECA economies has played a crucial role in strengthening vital connections between these countries on the global stage.