Baku, Ankara, Ashgabat focus on transportation, energy projects
By Sara Rajabova
Azerbaijani, Turkish, and Turkmen officials convened in the Turkish city of Antalya on August 28 to further boost joint regional projects.
Foreign Ministers Elmar Mammadyarov, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Rashid Meredov discussed projects carried out by the three countries in various areas including energy, transport, tourism and sports, regional cooperation, bilateral relations, and other issues of mutual interest.
One of the main issues of discussion between the three countries was the cooperation in the fields of transport and energy, which currently stands at the center of economic projects carried out in the region.
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are eyeing a bid to diversify exports and supply their gas to an energy-starved Europe in search of new sources to ensure its energy security.
Turkey, with its favorable geographical position, acts as a reliable transportation corridor between the energy-rich Caspian littoral states and Europe.
Azerbaijan and Turkey are already taking part in the Southern Gas Corridor, a project designed for the delivery of natural gas from the Caspian region.
Turkmenistan, fourth in the world for its proven reserves of natural gas, is seeking to deliver its energy resources to Europe as part of country’s plans to diversify its energy exports. In this regard, Ashgabat is in search of new routes for its natural gas.
One of these routes is the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which would be connected to the Southern Gas Corridor. The pipeline will allow Turkmenistan to freely transport its gas via Azerbaijan and Turkey to Europe.
Discussing cooperation in the energy sector, which would also contribute to peace and stability at the regional and global levels, the Azerbaijani, Turkish, and Turkmen foreign ministers stressed the importance of Turkmen and Azerbaijani gas in that it will be transported through Turkey to Europe and international markets.
Azerbaijan, which is located along the regional energy and transport corridors of global importance, will act as a supplier and transit corridor.
“This is what opens wide opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. Azerbaijan successfully implements regional projects whose foundation was laid by the commissioning of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. Azerbaijan, as the initiator of a number of vital projects in the region, connects the most important regions of Eurasia via implementation of the projects of the Southern Gas Corridor, the main lines of which are the TANAP and TAP, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project and new Baku International Trade Port,” Mammadyarov said at a trilateral meeting of the Azerbaijani, Turkish and Turkmen foreign ministers, as reported by AzerTac state news agency.
Hailing trilateral relations, Turkey’s Cavushoglu, for his part, said rapid growth of the trilateral format contributes to regional development.
Meredov, in turn, drew attention to the tasks set by Baku and Ashgabat declarations adopted by Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan in May 2014 and in January 2015, saying they accelerated the development of trilateral relations between the countries.
The ministers further stated that in taking responsibility for ensuring peace and stability in the region, efforts toward deepening cooperation would continue.
Condemning the terrorist attacks in Turkey in recent months, Mammadyarov highlighted Azerbaijan's assistance to Turkey in combating terrorism.
He also touched on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which emerged in 1988 after Armenia made unfounded territorial claims against Azerbaijan.
Mammadyarov described the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as the greatest threat to peace in the region and a serious barrier to the development of regional cooperation.
Twenty percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories have been under Armenian occupation for many years. More than one million Azerbaijanis have become refugees and internally displaced persons.
The foreign ministers, with the aim of developing cooperation and utilizing transit potential, also spoke about the creation of an Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey transport corridor. This project will also be open to countries that do not have direct access to the sea or access to major international markets.
In addition, the ministers discussed preparations for the summit of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan, which will be held in October 2015 in Ashgabat.
Following the meeting, the Antalya Declaration was signed, which stated that the next trilateral meeting of Azerbaijani, Turkish, and Turkmen foreign ministers will be held in Baku.
The first meeting in trilateral format was held in Baku in 2014. The Baku Declaration was adopted following this meeting. The Azerbaijani, Turkish and Turkmen foreign ministers also convened in the Turkmen capital last January to further boost joint projects in transportation and communication.
The cooperation of the countries covers a wide range of issues, including energy, tourism, humanitarian assistance, and politics.
The three countries decided to establish the Turkey-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan tripartite format in late 2013. Azerbaijan is also member of other two other tripartite formats: Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia and Azerbaijan-Turkey-Iran.