The Congress Centre of Avaza National tourist zone hosted International Conference of the Ministers of Transport of the country members of the Agreement on Transit and Transport Cooperation (Lapis Lazuli Agreement) between Turkmenistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Georgia, the Republic of Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The document has been signed on November 15, 2017 at the ministerial session of the VII Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII) in Ashgabat. Its adoption became special contribution of the Ashgabat Forum to the intensification of productive international partnership for improvement of economic integration of the region and significant growth of trade volumes.
Current conference, which was held under five-side Agreement, has become another step toward the implementation of the project of international Lazuli transport and transit corridor, which would support the consolidation of productive cooperation on wide geo-economic space including the regions of Central and South Asia, Caspian and Black Sea basins as well as Mediterranean.
The participants of representative forum in Avaza noted that advantages of geographical location of Turkmenistan at the intersection of the main routes of the continent allow the country implementing its national transport potential for provision of Eurasian connections.
Large-scale work expanded in our country for improvement of transport sphere serves as another evidence that care of people and improvement of wealth of the nation are important priority of socially oriented policy of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
These priorities are visually highlighted in logistic strategy of the Head of the State. Recently, Turkmenistan has implemented such grandiose projects as the construction of new International airport in the capital, first part of Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan railroad, Kerky – Ymamnazar – Akina line, opening of Turkmenbashy International Seaport as well as the start of construction of Ashgabat – Turkmenbashy highway and other projects.
The country makes comfortable and safe international corridors with involvement of railway, motor, air and water transport, which provides stable development in the region, improvement of neighbouring relations between people, consolidation of the cooperation and growth of trade volume.
The year of 2018, which is held under slogan “Turkmenistan – the Heart of the Great Silk Road”, has been marked with big projects in transport sphere. For example, Serhetabat – Turgundy railroad, which is the part of Lazuli transport and transit corridor, has been put into operation in February. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov as well as the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the State Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of India, who arrived in our country, took part in the opening ceremony.
The construction of Turkmen – Afghan route was undertaken by our country, which render comprehensive support and assistance to fraternal neighbouring nation. Due to the modernization of the railway, which was actually completely re-built by the Ministry of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan, throughput capacity of Turgundy railway station has been increased, its significance in Afghanistan trade turnover has been improved and supply of Afghan production to international markets as well as delivery of import goods by short and optimal way back to the country have become possible.
Involving Afghanistan to the projects of formation of ramified transport infrastructure in the region, the state will receive unique opportunity to use its geographic benefit as transport and transit hub in Eurasia.
Opening of Serhetabat (Turkmenistan) – Turgundy (Afghanistan) railroad takes forward the idea of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on inclusion of Afghanistan to transport and logistic system of Turkmenistan and via our country to international transport communication network. Railways and highways connect Turgundy with Ashgabat and with Turkmenbashy International Port in Caspian Sea. The corridor is continued across the sea to Baku and farther to Ankara and Istanbul via Tbilisi.
Just for ten months of 2018 the volumes of cargo traffic by Kerky – Ymamnazar – Akina and Serhetabat – Turgundy has grown two times comparing with the same period of 2017. Therefore, the requirements in these railroads is obvious and their importance will grow with inclusion of new territories, projects and logistic schemes.
The delegates of the forum had an opportunity to see key stage of the establishment of Lazuli Route and transport infrastructure of the countries participating in the project at the exhibition organized in the hall of the Congress Centre in Avaza national tourist zone.
High-rank officials of the ministries and departments, experts, investors, representatives of competent organizations, banking structures, logistic and freight forwarding companies, mass media took part in the opening ceremony of International Conference.
The participants have listened the greeting message of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov with great attention. The guests of the forum made the presentation thereafter. First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan Yagub Eiyubov noted that current conference is very important as the transport sphere is considered as the most important factor of economic growth, which improves international trade relations, enhances the efficiency of use of natural resources and develops the entrepreneurship in the conditions of transit to innovative way.
First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Achilbay Ramatov highlighted that due to activation of transport cooperation between our countries, the region is involved deeper to the processes of the world trade, which allows using transport and transit potential of our countries for diversification of existing transport corridors and creation of new routes providing the entry to international markets.
Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Turkey Mehmet Cahit Turhan noted great importance of multimodal Lapis Lazuli transport and transit corridor for economic growth of all countries taking part in this project. Expressing the gratitude to President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for the opportunity to take part in the implementation of the project of Turkmenbashy International Port, the guest noted that the infrastructure of the port is key link for development of transport communication in the region.
Subject of successful integration of Afghanistan to the world economic space due to the measures taken by the participants of the Agreement on Lapis Lazuli transit and transport cooperation has been noted the speech of Minister of Transport of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Hamid Tahmasi who highlighted huge input of Turkmenistan to stabilization of the situation in his country.
Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia Akakiy Sagirishvili noted in his speech that Lapis Lazuli corridor would allow implementing huge transit and transport potential of our countries, which develop their own transport infrastructure at the same time.
Special attention has been paid to the development of air transport, maritime shipping, railway and motor transport system in Turkmenistan in the context of the contribution of all modes of transport to the implementation of international transport and transit corridors especially to multimodal Lapis Lazuli transport corridor.
Being committed to active position in cooperation in transport sphere including in the UN and other competent organizations’ format, our country and its foreign partners implement big infrastructural projects initiated by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, thus making significant contribution to the consolidation and expansion of efficient international cooperation.
Construction of super modern Ashgabat International Airport can be brought as example. Being the main airport of Turkmenistan, it has capabilities to receive any types of aircrafts providing international service standards. Throughput capacity of cargo terminal is 200 thousand tons per year. 188 units of specialized equipment operate in the airport for uninterrupted ground service of the aircrafts.
It was noted at the session that establishment of modern system of airports is an important precondition for further economic development of Turkmenistan and its integration to the world economy, expansion and activation of international trade relations.
It was highlighted that creation of modern commercial fleet is one priority directions of transport infrastructure of Turkmenistan. Orders for construction of vessels for Turkmen fleet, especially tankers for transportation of oil and oil products as well as ferryboats, have been placed at the biggest shipyards abroad.
The fleet of super modern tankers has been considerably increased for the last few years, which is important taking into account the volumes of production and processing of oil and own chemical industry, stable growth of production volumes of required in the country and abroad.
Modern development of maritime shipping is impossible without modernization of port infrastructure. On August 15, 2013, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Recep Tayip Erdogan, who was the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey at that moment, have launched the construction of new Turkmenbashy International Seaport, which is the part of TRACECA transport corridor.
This big investment project has included the construction of automobile and passenger ferry terminal with total area of 230 thousand square meters and container terminal with total area of 249 thousand square meters. The complex also includes general cargo, bulk cargo and polypropylene terminals as well as Balkan shipyard, which occupies the territory of 166 thousand square meters.
Big volume of work for deepening of the port territory has been conducted, in particular millions cubic meters of soil have been extracted during dredging works for the ships’ navigation to the berth. Numerous port infrastructure facilities, which include transport provision like roads and railways, have been built in addition to berth facilities.
Regarding technical provision of new seaport, it equipped with modern programme complexes, which are necessary for provision of the safety and efficiency of navigation as well as for environmental protection.
Therefore, special role in practical implementation of the plans of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for development of transit and transport potential of Turkmenistan is given to Caspian region where big opportunities for efficient use of all modes of transport are opened, the participants of the conference noted. Due to this, the main logistic centre, which would be able to coordinate cargo traffic using maritime, road, railway and air transport, is under development in the country.
The delegates of the forum made special mention that transport strategy of Turkmenistan is based on the idea of restoration of the Silk Road, which run across Central Asia throughout the ages, initiated by the Head of Turkmen State. On modern conditions, this transcontinental route is to support the implementation of considerable economic potential of our country and other states of the region via the integration to the world transport system.
Putting into operation of Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Iran railroad, which longest 700 kilometre section runs across our country, is visual indication in this case. Turkmen railway constructors have built 444 kilometres of the railway from Bereket railway station via Gyzylgaya settlement to the state border with Kazakhstan, where Serhetyaka settlement has also been built, for short period in complex natural and climate conditions. Huge work has been carried out for development of new railroad, along which dozens of engineering facilities, railway stations, depots, passing track and other facilities have been built.
From economic point of view, entire road gives the shortest way of cargo delivery including the transit and in future for passenger traffic as well. Time is an important factor in modern conditions. In this regard, reduction of cargo delivery time gives serious advantage. In its turn, it is reflected in business activity and as the result in the growth of the wealth of people.
After completion of construction of the railway in Iran, the opportunity to increase the export to the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia directions was opened, owing to which comfortable and economically beneficial route for dozens of countries in both north and south directions has been created. The countries participating in the project receive the advantages as transit states and in the formation of logistic centres on their territories. New road will also give strong impulse to development of Caspian region including the expansion of its transport, production and social infrastructure.
Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Iran railway is not only economically and commercially grounded projects, the participants of the forum noted. This is serious factor of geopolitics, which is able to make positive impact on general situation in the region and outside its borders and to become serious factor of stability and security in Asia, to give additional stability to entire system of continental political relations.
Speaking of the development of transport sector of Turkmenistan, the participants of the conference noted that construction of new roads, which would expand operational zone of international transport corridors including Lazuli route, is planned in the country. Such grandiose projects of construction of roads, which are implemented these days by the initiative of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, have never been done in the country.
The network of the main roads would be completely reconstructed, high-speed roads with all necessary infrastructure would be built. Their total length will be 1,700 kilometres. The world standard will be main feature of the highways built across entire country.
Construction of Turkmenbashy – Farab and Ashgabat – Dashoguz roads, which are to support the improvement of quality of road traffic, is carried out at present time. construction of Turkmenbashy – Kazakhstan border, Turkmenabat – Dashoguz and Mary – Serhetabat roads are among the main projects.
Along with road construction, which connect different regions, the 3-phase construction of high speed roads meeting international standards is planned. In particular, the first stage includes the construction of Ashgabat – Turkmenbashy road, the second – Ashgabat – Farab and the third – Ashgabat – Dashoguz roads.
Summing up the outcomes of the conference, the participants noted that international transport corridors became key mechanisms of the globalization of the world economy. Having initiated all these projects, Turkmenistan forms up one of the most important transport centre of the continent based on stable economic and social development of the country and improvement of the competiveness of local goods and services in the world markets, which allow taking deserving place in post-industrial structure of the world.
Final document reflecting key vectors of further development of transport cooperation of the states of Lazuli Route has been signed in the end of the forum.
After, the tour around Turkmenbashy International Port has been organized for the participants of the conference.
Presentation of International Seaport, opportunities for investments to ship building industry has been made in the Great Silk Road Hotel under the tour. The investors of new industry, which is new for our country, can expect significant benefits.
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