The development of comprehensive cooperation between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, which have rich hydrocarbon resources, is of great importance not only for these countries but also for entire Central Asia, the Caspian and the Caucasus regions, Ambassador of Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan Mekan Ishanguliyev told Trend.
He said that this will lead to new major changes in the energy map of the region, the influx of large investments, the development of the economic situation in regional countries, the creation of new jobs, and, as a result, an increase in living standards.
The ambassador stressed that Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are located in favorable places for trade between East and West, shipping routes through the Caspian Sea are currently expanding, and the parties have gained great opportunities as transit countries for goods traveling between China and Europe.
In terms of countries’ cooperation, the ambassador said that the joint Azerbaijani-Turkmen development of the Dostlug field on the basis of bilateral cooperation increases the interest in the field both commercially and technically.
"Thus, the modern infrastructure created in the Caspian Sea for the transportation of hydrocarbons will create favorable conditions for bringing the energy resources produced at the Dostlug field to the world markets," the ambassador added.
He also noted that the development of the field's hydrocarbon resources in the future may give an impetus to the construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline to ensure access of Central Asian energy resources to the European market.
"Working on a joint project, such as Dostlug, represents a new pillar of cooperation that can be expanded to other areas," Ishankuliyev said.
"The new volumes of natural gas and oil from the field will allow expanding the petrochemical industry of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. This is a very important agreement that opens the way for broad cooperation," the ambassador said, adding that currently, within the framework of the signed memorandum, working groups have been established between the relevant structures of the parties to implement this project and expand cooperation in the energy sector.
The work of the contact groups will lead to a new level of mutual cooperation, finding acceptable conditions for the further development of this area.
Besides oil and gas sector, the ambassador also praised the cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in other sectors. Thus, he said the project for the construction, ownership, and operation of a fiber-optic communication line along the bottom of the Caspian Sea on the route Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan by Turkmenistan’s Turkmentelecom and Azerbaijan’s AzerTelecom LLC is at the starting point of its implementation.
The ambassador added that within the framework of this agreement, contact groups have been established, which currently hold regular working meetings, and a roadmap for the project has been approved.
"In the future, the Trans-Caspian Fiber Optic cable line will turn our countries into a digital center for both the South Caucasus and Central Asia," the ambassador stressed.
Speaking about the planned joint projects between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan in the near future, the ambassador added that the creation of the Caspian Sea–Black Sea International Transport Corridor, initiated by Turkmenistan, has now become global, with Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Romania as participants.
"As of today, the draft agreement between Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Romania on the creation and implementation of Caspian Sea–Black Sea International Transport Corridor is at the final stage of consideration by the parties."
The report also notes that the connection of the Caspian and the Black Sea regions in a single transport corridor opens up broad prospects for the development of the economic partnership, industrial and energy cooperation, trade, and investment.
"The creation of a format of assistance in the Caspian Sea will contribute to the further rapprochement of our countries. Azerbaijan has the necessary infrastructure to export its hydrocarbon resources to Europe."
In the field of international energy cooperation, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan advocate the creation of a balanced, multi-variant system of energy supplies to European markets, based on the diversification of routes, transparent schemes of their functioning, guarantees of reliability and security, and consideration of multilateral interests, he said.
"Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, is one of the world's largest producers of hydrocarbons, support each other on international platforms and take the same position in terms of diversification of energy supplies as one of the crucial conditions for ensuring global energy security. Work in this direction will continue both in the bilateral format and with international partners," added the ambassador.
In terms of the transport sector, Ishanguliyev said that the possibility of joining the Lapis-Lazuli Transit, Trade & Transport Route to the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is being considered.
The ambassador noted that the connection of the Lapis Lazuli Corridor with the Baku-Kars railway will ensure the transportation of goods through Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to 50-60 countries, including the whole of Europe and most of the countries of North Africa.
During the trilateral meeting between the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, and Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, held on July 2, 2020, the president of Turkmenistan proposed to create a Single Logistics Center based on the agreement on the Lapis Lazuli Transport Corridor, signed in Ashgabat on November 15, 2017, added the ambassador.
"As a first step for the practical implementation of this initiative, it was proposed to create structures that coordinate logistics activities in the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan trilateral format," the ambassador said.
The report noted that in general, the Lapis Lazuli transport corridor will allow the participating countries to diversify their access to regional and continental trade markets, which will directly contribute to the strengthening of national economies, the expansion of trade and economic ties, and the increase in trade turnover between the states of Central and South Asia and Europe.
The ambassador added that one of the key elements of the "Lapis Lazuli" corridor was Azerbaijan's Alat seaport and Turkmenistan’s Turkmenbashi International Seaport.
"The project is intended to contribute to the economic development of Afghanistan by including Afghanistan in the network of international transport corridors connecting Kabul with the countries of the Caspian Sea and Europe, which will significantly increase the economic integration of the region and increase trade volumes.»
Lapis Lazuli is one of the strategically significant infrastructure projects implemented by Turkmenistan together with its nearest neighbors, said the ambassador.
Furthermore, the ambassador said that Turkmenistan is ready to consider specific forms of partnership with Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, including the issues of long-term leasing of warehouses, terminals for storing petroleum products, and the allocation of special places for cargo handling operations at the Turkmenbashi International Seaport.
The ambassador noted that President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov also proposed to conduct a single price policy for the transportation of goods on the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan route and in the opposite direction in order to create optimal economic and financial conditions equal for all participants.
Further, the head of the state offered to consider the possibilities of simplifying customs operations through the introduction of a control system based on the "Single Window" principle.
"The president of Turkmenistan also proposed to prepare an atlas of the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan route in a digital format with detailed information about the existing transport and communication infrastructure. This will increase the investment and commercial attractiveness of this corridor, " the ambassador said.
Within the framework of this project, a trilateral videoconference of the heads of the interdepartmental group of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan was held on January 16, 2021, during which the parties signed a roadmap for expanding and deepening cooperation between Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan in the field of trade and investment, energy, transport and logistics, telecommunications and information technologies, customs, and border issues.
During the meeting, the sides also exchanged views on the current state and prospects for the development of cooperation between the three countries in the fields of transport, logistics, and other areas.
"I would like to express my opinion that today's professional dialogue on the role of transport and transit corridors in the context of modern global changes is designed to promote better mutual understanding between states, the convergence of positions, and the development of advanced schemes and models of partnership in this segment of the world economy," the ambassador said.
The message also says that the key link in the transport system of Turkmenistan is the Turkmenbashi International Sea Port, which includes oil loading, ferry, passenger, and cargo terminals.
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