Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedow and his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev have discussed plans to expand transport and transit corridors.
Addressing the meeting in Ashgabat, President Berdimuhamedow reaffirmed Turkmenistan's willingness to jointly develop the transport route connecting Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to Europe through the Caspian Sea and Black Sea ports.
"I believe that our countries' efforts can and should be aimed at achieving the main goal - the creation of a powerful and modern infrastructure that would ensure the unification of the transport systems of Central Asia, Europe, and the Middle East," the Turkmen TDH news agency quoted Berdimuhamedow as saying on October 21.
He added that "another unconditional priority of cooperation between the two countries is to ensure lasting peace, security and progress in Central Asia, as well as to prevent attempts to destabilize the situation by various terrorist, extremist and radical groups."
President Mirziyoyev, in turn, said that his visit to Turkmenistan would give a new impetus to the relations in the field of transport. He further thanked the Turkmen side for the constant support of the foreign policy of Uzbekistan and its international initiatives.
The two presidents also discussed the development of the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway project, and also noted the importance of stepping up efforts to speed up the implementation of the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman-Qatar transport corridor.
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have achieved significant breakthroughs in transit and transportation in past years. Bakhtiyor Ergashev, who heads the Uzbek "Ma'no" Center for Research Initiatives, noted that the two presidents most likely discussed the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway project.
"In the context of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway project with access to Chabahar port in the Arabian Sea has got a second wind. The road connecting Turkmenistan with the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas has existed since the mid-1990s. But today its throughput capacity is insufficient," Ergashev said.
The port of Chabahar is of huge interest to Uzbekistan because of its great potential. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are trying to increase cargo turnover through the Tejen-Serakhs railway crossing on the border between Turkmenistan and Iran. So, the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway project will enable Uzbekistan to have access to Iranian railway lines through Turkmenistan.
On September 28, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said "the network of roads, railways, and sea routes of our country, in particular the ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar, can be used by Uzbek entrepreneurs to transport goods from Uzbekistan and other countries." He also expressed Iran’s readiness to include Uzbekistan in the Chabahar Agreement and provide a North-South corridor, saying that his country is interested in using Uzbekistan's railways and highways, which are convenient for Iranian businessmen.
The integration of the communication systems of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan makes it possible to split-second access to the markets of third countries and regions. In particular, the parties are working together to maximize the potential of the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Caspian Sea-Caucasus transport route. This corridor has been designed to provide access to Georgia and Türkiye’s Black Sea ports as well as the European Union (EU) markets.
In 2021, international freight shipments between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan stood at 1.7 million tons by rail and 0.3 million tons by road showing an 18 percent increase as compared to 2020.