Baku, Azerbaijan, June 14
By Matanat Nasibova – Trend:
Implementation of the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project will increase economic and political bonuses for Moscow, Baku and Tehran, Russian political expert Ramin Gasimov told Trend while commenting on the significance of this large-scale transport project and the benefits of its implementation for Azerbaijan and the countries of the region.
According to the expert, the creation of the INSTC with the participation of Azerbaijan and Russia will significantly strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the fields of economy and transport, as well as further strengthen the partnership ties between Moscow and Baku.
"The implementation of the project will allow to intensify trade relations of the Caspian littoral states with their counterparts on the coast of the Black Sea, ensuring access to the Persian Gulf and India for Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus, which in turn will increase rail traffic between Europe, South Asia and the Middle East," he said.
"Thanks to a well-thought-out foreign policy pursued under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, today Azerbaijan plays a key role in this international project. It is crystal clear that the role of Azerbaijan is increasing from year to year as a regional player and a leading country in the South Caucasus. For Russia, this project is beneficial in terms of diversifying markets, and strengthening its position in the south,” he said.
The expert pointed out that Russia is interested in this project for several reasons.
“First, North-South provides Russia and other oil-producing countries in the region with the opportunity to diversify trade, which is important in the conditions of a weak market environment in the global oil market. At the same time, the transport corridor shortens the transport distance, which contributes to the intensification of trade. Secondly, the INSTC reduces transportation costs, so the carriage of goods by rail is potentially cheaper than using the Suez Canal in Egypt," he said.
According to the expert, Russia's participation in the project shows that Azerbaijan and Russia are actively increasing bilateral cooperation in the transport sector.
"It was also significant in a sense that, after launching the large-scale Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, the government of Azerbaijan offered Russia to transport Russian cargo via this railway. This proposal by the Azerbaijani side confirmed trustful and friendly relations with Russia," Gasimov said.
Further, the Russian expert drew attention to the contracts and agreements concluded between Russian and Azerbaijani oil and gas companies, particularly on the joint development of the Goshadash block by Russia’s Rosneft and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR.
According to him, the fact that the Rosneft company will work together with SOCAR in several fields confirms that Russia and Azerbaijan do not consider themselves to be competitors, but as friendly partners who work in many areas.
"The same can be said about the North-South project. When they first started talking about this project, some experts stated that it might not be economically profitable. There were various negative thoughts on this project, few people believed in its implementation. Nevertheless, the project did not lose his relevance, and its implementation remains a high priority for the participating countries," he noted.
The Russian expert noted that Baku is confidently pursuing a balanced regional policy in light of the very difficult geopolitical situation in the region and the world, and this position of Azerbaijan is fully supported by Russia.
He said that Russia supports Azerbaijan as a moderator and mediator between Europe, Russia and the countries of the Middle East via the implementation of important projects of regional and international significance, and underlined that Azerbaijan’s mediating role for Russia holds a special place.
"We remember how Azerbaijan, along with Kazakhstan, played a significant mediating role in restoring relations between Russia and Turkey [after the incident with the downed Russian aircraft]. This factor confirmed the high authority of Azerbaijan in world politics and in the system of international relations," he said.
"I would also like to highlight the personal friendly relations between the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, which undoubtedly contribute to further strengthening bilateral cooperation and building a trustful political dialogue between Moscow and Baku,” he said.