Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan crafting visionary future - run-up to President Tokayev’s visit to Baku

Politics Materials 11 March 2024 09:00 (UTC +04:00)
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan crafting visionary future - run-up to President Tokayev’s visit to Baku
Maryana Ahmadova
Maryana Ahmadova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 11. Amid the global chaos, wars, and conflicts, having genuine strategic partners takes center stage. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan stand out as a prime example, demonstrating a truly friendly bond between the two nations.

The leaders of both countries reinforce their close ties through consistent contacts and visits. The upcoming visit of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to Azerbaijan on March 11 is poised to be another pivotal move in advancing collaborative efforts across various domains.

Kazakhstan, standing by Azerbaijan in its endeavors to restore territories freed from Armenian occupation, has already pitched in with a pivotal project. President Tokayev's upcoming visit will mark the grand opening of this initiative - the Kurmangazy creativity center for children in the city of Fuzuli. Fostering cultural connections between the peoples of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan has consistently been a cornerstone of the multifaceted cooperation. This particular project is set to forge stronger bonds between two nations tied together by a shared Turkic legacy.

Over the past few years, Baku and Astana have taken their economic partnership to a whole new level. In 2023, the trade between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan reached a total of $529.4 million, marking a significant 14.2-percent increase compared to the same period in 2022, which stood at $463.3 million. Since 2020, the trade between the two countries has seen an almost fivefold increase, skyrocketing from $109 million. The Kazakh side emphasizes that Azerbaijan's market is a major focal point for exporting processed goods from the country. Astana is all set to deliver over 100 non-raw commodity items to Azerbaijan, totaling around $300 million.

A major aspect of this collaboration revolves around the shipment of Kazakh oil through Azerbaijan, destined for further transport to Europe. In 2023, Kazakhstan moved a substantial 1.39 million tons of oil through Baku, with all this oil coursing through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline.

Furthermore, back in 2022, Azerbaijan proposed the idea to Kazakhstan of tapping into the Baku-Supsa pipeline, reserving a stake of up to 1.5 million tons in the pipeline. Presently, Kazakhstan is weighing the option of making use of the Baku-Supsa pipeline. Both Baku and Astana stay in the loop on this matter, and both sides are keen on exploring avenues to boost the transit of Kazakh oil through Azerbaijan.

Additionally, Azerbaijan serves as a crucial transit hub for Kazakhstan's uranium exports to Europe. Given that Central Asia boasts some of the world's largest uranium deposits and is keen on expanding its production and processing capabilities for this resource, coupled with the renewed interest in nuclear power development by several European countries, Azerbaijan plays a pivotal role in facilitating supply routes, ensuring mutual benefits for both sides.

Azerbaijan is now in the league of the top 15 significant investors in the Kazakh economy. In the latest business mission of Kazakh entrepreneurs to Azerbaijan, 8 contracts totaling $55 million were inked. In addition to the thriving Turkic Investment Fund, which has been operating successfully since May 2023 with an initial capital of $500 million and includes both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan as members, there are also discussions about ramping up investment in a bilateral format. Currently, talks are ongoing about the potential formation of a Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan Investment Fund between Samruk-Kazyna, the National Welfare Fund, and the Azerbaijani Investment Holding. One key goal for the future fund is to foster the development of port infrastructure on the both sides of the Caspian.

Here, it is important to highlight one of the most crucial projects, a cornerstone in the collaboration not just between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan but also bridging the East and the West – the Middle Corridor. In this context, both Baku and Astana play pivotal roles, serving as the primary architects on opposite sides of the Caspian Sea.

To enhance cargo transportation volumes via the route, the railway organizations of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and also Georgia established a joint venture called Middle Corridor Multimodal Ltd., streamlining services in a single-window format. The route is set to leverage state-of-the-art digital technologies, and in pursuit of this, the Kazakh side has partnered with the transnational Singaporean company PSA, which developed the blueprint for a seamless digital corridor. It is worth noting that our European partners are just as keen on growing this transportation route. In fact, they have recently backed it up with 10 billion euros for infrastructure development along the Middle Corridor.

Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan kicked off a solid friendship ages ago, laying the groundwork for a long-lasting system that is still going strong. Despite facing hurdles, both countries stuck together, and their partnership has only leveled up. All of this would not have been possible without the dedication and focus that President Ilham Aliyev and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev personally poured into developing these relations. The significant strides taken by the leaders of both nations in recent years have not only shaped the bilateral landscape but also propelled key initiatives throughout the broader region. Sure, considerable untappedpotential is still waiting to be uncovered in the future. Looking back at the history of the both nations, it is pretty clear – Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are on track to keep the cooperation alive, with the stage set for even bigger things ahead.