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Aliyev Emphasizes North-South Corridor in Moscow Talks with Putin

By Nargiz Mammadli April 23, 2024

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President Vladimir Putin hosted President Ilham Aliyev in a meeting dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Baikal-Amur Mainline, Moscow, Russia, April 22, 2024 / President.Az

President Aliyev emphasized the critical role of the North-South Transport Corridor in fostering transport cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia during a joint meeting held on April 22 in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin, along with railway veterans and workers on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM).

President Aliyev highlighted the active involvement of both countries in developing the multimodal corridor to boost Eurasian connectivity. 

“Appropriate instructions have been given to members of the Government. I am confident that all the issues will be agreed upon in the near future and we will start the implementation of yet another magnificent project,” he said. 

The President of Azerbaijan further noted that the Azerbaijan-Russia railway, which extends to the Iran border across Azerbaijan, will be able to handle increased cargo with the construction of new segments, thereby creating a unique transportation route from the North to the Indian Ocean.

The North-South Corridor, spanning 7,200 kilometers from Russia to India, comprises a multimodal mix of rail, road, and sea transport routes, optimizing intercontinental trade among participating states and other stakeholders. This corridor connects Europe, the countries of the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean. Both the Western and Eastern routes of the corridor pass through Iran, with the Western route also traversing Azerbaijan, while the Eastern route extends through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Furthermore, it is expected to facilitate direct sea transportation from Russia via the Caspian Sea to Iran.

Meanwhile, while addressing the meeting, President Putin said the ultimate goal of the stakeholders in the North-South corridor is to ensure a seamless connection between the Northern Sea Route and the Persian Gulf.

“[…] the North-South transport corridor should become an example of broad international cooperation. I mean the creation of new logistics routes for the accelerated socioeconomic development of the countries in Eurasia and the Global South,” he said.

Azerbaijan has been actively involved in the creation and operation of the North-South Transport Corridor in accordance with the “Strategic Roadmap for the Development of Logistics and Trade in the Republic of Azerbaijan.” As the only country in the world that shares land borders with both Russia and Iran, Azerbaijan plays an unprecedented role in significant regional transportation mega-projects. The ultimate goal is to transform the country into a key transport and logistics hub at the crossroads of two transcontinental corridors, including the East-West Middle Corridor, in the heart of Eurasia.

In October 2023, Azerbaijan launched a brand-new toll road that stretches across the country and connects it to Russia along the North-South Transport Corridor. This high-quality four-lane highway offers a 13-kilometer shorter route than the older road.

Azerbaijan will also integrate an all-new cargo terminal into the North-South Corridor. The Astara terminal is currently under construction in the territory of Iran. The terminal’s territory spans 35 hectares and is situated approximately 1.4 km from the Azerbaijan-Iran border. The construction is managed by Azerbaijan Railways Company, and the terminal has been leased to Azerbaijan for a period of 25 years. Cargo handling operations at the Astara terminal commenced in 2018. In 2023, more than 700,000 tons of cargo were transferred through this terminal.

The Baku International Sea Trade Port, also known as the Port of Baku, in Azerbaijan, stands out as a significant maritime hub on the north-south connectivity. Despite being under construction, the port is operational during its first phase of development. This Caspian Sea port is the largest in the region, with a throughput capacity of up to 15 million tons of cargo, including 10,000 twenty-equivalent units (TEU). After the completion of the second phase, the port will be capable of handling 25 million tons of cargo, including 500,000 TEU.

Azerbaijan also supports the construction of a railway segment of the North-South Transport Corridor, specifically the Astara-Rasht-Qazvin railroad. In May 2023, Russia announced its cooperation with Iran to build the Astara-Rasht-Qazvin railroad. Moscow has issued a $1.3 billion interstate loan to finance the project, which will require a total investment of $1.6 billion.

“In line with our agreement, the construction should take four years. Designing and geological prospecting are already underway. We plan that all work should be completed in Q3 2027 or by the end of 2027,” Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov said in May 2023.

According to him, the North-South transportation capacity will increase threefold, from the current 15 million tons to 41-45 million tons of cargo per year by 2030.