Regional, global agenda priorities to prevail in Azerbaijani-Uzbek relations - experts
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev arrived on a state visit to Uzbekistan on June 21, Trend reports.
During the visit, bilateral meetings were held, and a number of important documents determining the further development of relations between the two countries were signed.
Head of the International Relations Department at the Uzbek University of World Economy and Diplomacy Ulugbek Khasanov commenting on the visit said that rather complex and extremely turbulent modern international relations set the issues of creating sustainable and resistant models of national economies as vital ones, which was confirmed by the current Azerbaijani-Uzbek summit in Tashkent city.
"The meeting of the presidents of two countries has shown a high level of integration of regional economies in the South Caucasus, where Azerbaijan plays the key role, and in Central Asia with a similar position of Uzbekistan in the world economy, which also confirms their strategic involvement in global logistics, and this, of course, has become one of the central themes of the bilateral dialogue," Khasanov noted.
Besides, the expert said that, this geo-economic advantage of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan determines alternative possibilities for maintaining the stable regional and global supply chains.
Khasanov noted that the logistics potential of the two countries in the South Caucasus and Central and South Asia allows connecting the North-South and East-West corridors with European countries.
The above potential also enables to connect the north-west of Russia through the ports of Astrakhan and Olya with the ports of Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and transiting goods from the Pacific ports of China to Europe, the states of the Persian Gulf, as well as Pakistan and India.
"In the current difficult international political conditions, the routes of mainland international transport flows provide direct communication between Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe and the countries of the Caucasus, Transcaucasia, the Black Sea and Caspian regions, the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of the Asia-Pacific region, including the Northeast Asia region,” Khasanov noted.
“Both Europe and China are strategically interested in the participation of the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia in development of the pan-Eurasian transport network in general and in the program for the revival of the Great Silk Road, especially due to the connection of the latter with the factors of trade and energy supply,” he noted.
He also said that many Turkish companies, being extremely interested in joining the Eurasian transport cargo flows, carried out reconstruction of the 44-kilometer section of Azerbaijan’s Alat-Gazimammad highway (80 kilometers south of Baku), as well as several sections of the Azerbaijani railways being part of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.
"Azerbaijan took real steps back in the 1990s to implement a transport project together with Georgia and Türkiye to create the shortest railway route on the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku line. In the new conditions, Azerbaijan is working out a transport corridor which will link the Lesser Caucasus in the northeast with the Anatolian Highlands in the southwest," Khasanov said.
"This is about the Zangazur corridor which will connect Azerbaijan with Türkiye through Armenia. The workout of the corridor testifies to the business potential of similar projects offered by Azerbaijani diplomats," the expert explained.
He said Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China are actively working on the implementation of a joint project to build a road connecting the Ferghana Valley with the western provinces of China.
The above transport route, passing through the cities of Tashkent-Andijan-Osh-Irkeshtam-Kashgar along four alternative branches, will not only connect the transport railway routes of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China, but will also become the main segment of the Great Silk Road project.
"This railway route is the shortest route from China to Europe and the Middle East. With the commissioning of this railway, the distance will be reduced by 900 kilometers compared to existing routes, and the delivery time of goods will be reduced by seven to eight days,” he said.
“China is actively involved in implementation of this project, which launched a Xi'an-Bishkek direct freight rail route on July 17, 2019. The opening of regional hubs in Uzbekistan has already made serious changes in the development of new models of international transportation, where the Trans-Afghan corridor is of great importance."
Summing up, Khasanov noted that namely the above priorities of the regional and global agenda will prevail in the bilateral relations between Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan for long years.
In turn, director of the Uzbek Development Strategy Center Eldor Tulyakov noted that bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan has been developing dynamically for more than 30 years.
"A high strategic level of cooperation has been achieved thanks to close dialogue and mutual understanding between the presidents of the two countries. Over the past five years, trade between Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan has grown almost by seven times: from $17.1 million in 2016 to $118.9 million in 2021,” Tulyakov said.
“According to the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan, in 2021, the volume of bilateral trade with Azerbaijan amounted to $118.9 million, an increase of 42 percent compared to 2020," he noted. "At the same time, from January through May 2022, the volume of trade between the countries amounted to $66.4 million and increased by 49.1 percent compared to the same period in 2021.”
“Azerbaijan is one of the few countries with which Uzbekistan has a positive trade balance. In 2021, this figure amounted to $33 million," Tulyakov emphasized.
Moreover, according to him, Azerbaijan is an important country through which the main transport routes to Türkiye and other European countries (railway and road) pass, which should be further expanded.
"For example, already a railway corridor has been launched - the foreign trade route of Uzbekistan in the western direction, which connects its Tashkent and Kungrad cities with Beyneu and Aktau (Kazakhstan), Azerbaijan's Baku, Georgian Tbilisi and Poti, and European countries," Tulyakov said. "Besides, there's the AH5 (International Asian Network) road corridor connecting China with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan-Georgia-Türkiye-Bulgaria."
He also spoke about the launch of E60 (European direction) road corridor connecting France with Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Georgia-Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China.
“At the same time, Uzbekistan and its western partners - Türkiye, Azerbaijan, Georgia and others are interested in promoting the multimodal transport corridor of Asia-Pacific region-China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Türkiye-Europe, passing through the territory of China, the countries of Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus, Türkiye and the countries of Europe," he said.
Tulyakov pointed out that implementation of the multimodal transport corridor will reduce the time of movement of goods from the Central Asian countries by three times.
"Moreover, the implementation of this multimodal transport corridor through Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan will allow our countries significantly increase their foreign trade turnover, and can also significantly increase the volume of transit cargo through their territory. In Uzbekistan, the volume of transit cargo transportation can increase from the current nearly 10 million tons to 23 million tons in 2030," the expert said.
According to him, in the current crisis conditions and against the backdrop of challenges in the field of food security, it becomes necessary to diversify transport routes connecting Central Asia with the East and West through the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus and further - to Europe.
"In this regard, both railway and road transport corridors, the development of transport infrastructure, implementation of common transport projects are becoming important areas of cooperation for many countries, including Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan," Tulyakov said.
According to the expert, the current visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Uzbekistan will give a new impetus to the development of bilateral and multilateral relations between the two countries, and expand opportunities for promoting close dialogue.
At the same time, he said that further deepening of trade and economic cooperation, the development of transport and communication links and infrastructure, as well as the expansion of industrial and transit cooperation, become the most relevant issues.
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