Baku and Beijing to be engaged in creation of Silk Road
Azerbaijan has significant potential for becoming a major transit corridor between China and Europe, especially since the Silk Road route could be much shorter through the republic, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, said during his visit to China.
The first steps in this direction have already been made yesterday, when three bilateral agreements between the governments of Azerbaijan and China were signed: the Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Encouragement of the Establishment of 'Silk Way Economic Belt', a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Transport between the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China and the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Railway Transport between Azerbaijan Railways CJSC and the National Railway Administration of the People’s Republic of China.
Experts positively evaluate the possibility of Azerbaijan's participation in the Chinese economic projects as a transit country. "In recent years, there is such a position that Azerbaijan will be a transit country in the near future, because the transport infrastructure of the republic allows shorter routes to be run through it," the ex-deputy minister for the economy of Azerbaijan, economic expert Oktay Akhverdiyev, noted.
"Transportation projects such as the Silk Road or the North-South corridor are not a matter of one year or even five years. Gradually, modern Azerbaijan's infrastructure will allow the country to become a central hub both from the North to the South and from the East to the West," he expects.
The head of the Center for Research on Sustainable Development, Nariman Agayev, in his turn, drew attention to the positive development of economic and political relations between Azerbaijan and China. "I think that in the future we will have a good positive balance between Europe, Central Asia, Kazakhstan and China, and possibly with Korea. In any case, cooperation with China will give us huge profits both as a transit country and in the political sense. This country has always supported Azerbaijan in many areas," he recalled.
The Economist noted that the current difficult economic situation in the world should not be an obstacle for strategic infrastructure projects. "Although there is decline in the world, it is a temporary factor, and the world economy, in any case, will be restored. After that, Azerbaijan will be able to become a part of one of the Silk Road branches. Of course, China has other transit routes to deliver its goods to the European zone, but Azerbaijan will become an important alternative transit line for it," Nariman Agayev stressed.
The political scientist Rovshan Ibragimov in an interview with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza also noted Azerbaijan's focus on the development of the North-South and West-East transport corridors. "The Republic provides the necessary infrastructure for it. At the beginning of next year the Baku-Tbilisi–Kars railway will come into operation. And in this case it coincides with the interests of China, which is very active in developing infrastructure in the Central Asian region in accordance with its Eurasian project 'One Belt, One Road'. Accordingly, it is creating different transport infrastructures: pipelines, highways, railways and roads,' he said.
"The South Caucasus is a logical extension to the Chinese infrastructure zone and Azerbaijan can offer the necessary infrastructure. China is also interested in the use of the transport routes through Azerbaijan, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway to transport Chinese goods. At the initial stage it can reach from 5 to 15 million tons," Ibragimov added.