BAKU: Russia adds Azerbaijan to North-South project


October 20 – 26, 2004


Russia adds Azerbaijan to North-South project

Azerbaijan has officially joined the agreement on the North-South
transport corridor. The issue was discussed on Friday during Russian
Minister of Transport Igor Levitin’s visit to Baku. He said that Russian
Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has already signed a relevant document
on the entry of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Syria into the project.
The North-South transport corridor project envisions transportation of
cargo between Europe and South Asia through the Persian Gulf, Caspian
Sea ports, Russia’s water channels and railways.

Levitin emphasized that the entry of the new countries into the project
will allow to expand the geographic area for cargo transportation.
However, he failed to explain how Armenia’s joining the project is
possible while this country occupies the territories of Azerbaijan,
through which the route lays.

Along with Russia, Iran and India, also participating in the agreement
are Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Oman. The route will allow to
reduce the time needed for cargo transit by 10-12 days, as compared to
the delivery of goods through the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal,
which takes 35 days, and to cut transportation costs by some 20%.
Analysts say that the volume of cargo transported annually along the
North-South corridor may reach 12-15 million tons in the next five years
and 40 million tons in 10 years.

Russia, Azerbaijan boost transport co-op

On Friday, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a protocol on cooperation in the
area of transport upon conclusion of Levitin’s visit to Baku.

Transport Ministers of Russia Igor Levitin and of Azerbaijan Ziya
Mammadov voiced their satisfaction with the outcome of the talks. “The
parties worked fruitfully and prepared a protocol on negotiations as
framework for further relations”, the Russian minister said. Mammadov
said A zerbaijan expects the meeting to contribute greatly to improving
cooperation in the area of transport.

In the document signed the two countries gave a positive assessment to
the existing ties in the area of transport, stressed the need to hold
regular meetings to solve the outstanding problems, and collaborate in
upgrading transport infrastructure.

The parties also pointed out the importance of setting up a working
group to prepare a draft agreement on cooperation between the two
countries’ transport ministries and said they would like to step up
efforts to develop international transport communications, such as
West-East and North-South. Russia informed the Azeri party of the
procedures needed inside the government in light of Azerbaijan’s joining
the North-South project. Azerbaijan and Russia also agreed to cooperate
in international combined cargo transportation.

Also discussed were preparations for signing an inter-governmental
agreement on commercial navigation in the Caspian Sea. Russia proposed
to continue work on the agreement covering the five Caspian littoral
states – Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan.
The parties also agreed to establish a joint working group to address
problems and outline activities at improving the efficiency in using the
Caspian Sea and Russia’s internal waters to ensure commercial navigation
between Russia and Azerbaijan.