How will Azerbaijan benefit from Trans-Caspian International Transport Route? - Former adviser to first president of Kazakhstan

  19 March 2022    Read: 657
  How will Azerbaijan benefit from Trans-Caspian International Transport Route? - Former adviser to first president of Kazakhstan

On March 9, 2022, a meeting of the Kazakh delegation led by the chairman of the board of Samruk-Kazyna JSC Almasadam Satkaliyev with a number of senior Azerbaijani officials was held in Baku. The main topic of discussion was the project about the creation of a joint venture to develop the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route. What issues will the joint venture settle in bilateral relations? What opportunities will the operation of this route bring to our countries?

Former minister and adviser to the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev Yermukhamet Yertysbayev answered these questions in his interview to 

- It was a historic meeting as we raised this issue long ago. A joint venture is being established to develop the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route. It was also called the South Caucasus Transport Corridor. In April 2013, I arrived in Georgia as an ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to this country. I have been an ambassador to this country for five years and, as an ambassador my main duty was the activation of the South Caucasus Transport Corridor. Transportation of goods and the activation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which was launched 15 years ago.

For several reasons, he has never worked at full capacity for all these years. There are experts, who say that one of the reasons is the Russian-Georgian war. The major oil power is not excited about alternative projects that are launched to bypass it. Although I don't really agree with this version, it is very widespread. On March 9, it was specifically determined in Baku that the new Kazakh-Azerbaijani joint venture would finally solve the issues through tariff formation, cargo declaration, etc. Over the past five years, Kazakh PM and the heads of the Kazakh railways have visited Georgia, holding numerous meetings with Georgians. There were Azerbaijani participants sometimes. 

All the time there were negotiations on the need for a single tariff, a single policy - we promoted this agenda, as we wanted to intensify the transportation of goods. I would like to draw your attention to the meeting held in Baku. It was stated that the application of a single tariff will reduce the time for transporting goods from China to Europe to 12 days. Transportation of goods from China to Europe by sea takes a month or even more. It is the issue that we have been talking about constantly for 15 years. I have frequently attended international conferences on the South Caucasus Transport Corridor and we have always raised the issue of the need to apply a single tariff. So, to turn words into deeds, a war in Ukraine was needed. Why is Russia in total isolation now, much to our regret? The skies are closed and land borders are likely to be closed. A huge amount of cargo went along the Northern route - from China through the territory of Kazakhstan to Europe since China is the industrial manufactory of the world. Europe needs a very large amount of production daily and hourly. China, on the other hand, whose population increased to 1 billion 412.6 million last year, is highly dependent on food security and nutrition.

Everything is so interconnected in the global world. From this point of view, I believe that great prospects are emerging for Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan now. I am very glad that this meeting was held in Baku on March 9. I do hope that it is not formal and we will put all these plans into practice as soon as possible. By the way, SOCAR Georgia Petroleum actively operates in Georgia. The competitor of the Azerbaijani company is the Kazakh company RomPetrol. There are about 60-70 gas stations of our company in Georgia. I have told and wrote notes to the leadership of Kazakhstan many times before that it is necessary to "pour” big money into the economy of Georgia in order to compete with Azerbaijan not only in Georgia, but also expand business in Turkey, and, if necessary, in the EU. My sixth sense told me that a serious fuel problem would emerge in Europe sooner or later. You see what is happening in Europe now. No matter how cynical it may sound, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan can earn very big money right now. A crisis is always a big opportunity.

- What economic risks will the new anti-Russian sanctions imply for the Caspian countries?

We already see these risks. It is obvious that anti-Russian sanctions will hit Russia's allies and partners. Anti-Russian sanctions hit Kazakhstan. Recently, 1 American dollar cost 425 tenge, today it costs 520 tenge. I am a patriot of Kazakhstan, I have worked as an adviser to Nazarbayev for 12 years and the state system for 25 years, but I am so oppositional because I have lost money for the fourth time. I have relied on my national currency for the fourth time. Recently, the British Ambassador to Kazakhstan noted that anti-Russian sanctions would not affect Kazakhstan in any way. In general, the US and the UK assured that no sanctions would be applied to Kazakhstan. Maybe it is significant for them to seclude real and potential allies from Russia. However, many experts say that the third world war has begun. No one will be able to “sit out” on the sidelines, in my view. We will have to make a choice, and what choice can Kazakhstan have? The length of the Russian-Kazakh border is about seven thousand kilometres, which makes it the longest land border in the world. 

- How should the oil countries - Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan act under the large-scale sanctions against Russia?

The Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) has been the main source of replenishing the state budget for many years in Kazakhstan. All oil drilled in the western part of Kazakhstan goes through this pipeline to Novorossiysk. We escort 80 million tons of oil per year. It is a very big amount of money, and Russia has never put a stick in the wheels of Kazakhstan for 30 years. There have never been any problems. Do you know the reason? Russia's revenue for pumping oil through the Tengiz-Novorossiysk pipeline is 52%. While the revenue of Kazakhstan is 19%, this proportion was 31-33 "% for western partners / Why does Russia get the greatest benefit? Because it is the territory of Russia, and its pipeline. Within the context of a ban on the supply of Russian oil, although the West suffers a lot, - the Caspian Pipeline Consortium can even earn more. I believe that the multi-vector foreign policy that first President Nursultan Nazarbayev laid down in his time is now bearing fruit and opening up new opportunities. I am deeply convinced that Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan must now act quickly in terms of energy supplies to the west.



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