a press release on the 25th of June, the National Secretary of TRACECA Azerbaijan (Transport Corridor Europe – Caucasus – Asia), Akif Mustafayev, announced that Iran is considering transporting up to 3 million tons of cargo annually to Europe via Azerbaijan and Georgia, instead of using the traditionally employed Turkish route:
“Recent events in Turkey on the border – area with Iran and the frequent terror attacks in the region threaten the transportation of goods in the area. Recent agreements between the governments of Azerbaijan and Iran in the field of transport — such as the unification of the two countries’ railroads, the construction of a railway bridge over the Astarachay river, the creation of cargo terminals on both sides of the border and the lifting of taxes on cargo – shippers — make transportation through Azerbaijan a viable alternative for Iranian carriers and producers wishing to transport goods to Europe…In addition, a gradual thaw in historically – terse relations between the two countries in recent years has also provided a good foundation for future cooperation.”
Mustafayev added that:
“One should also bear in mind that Iran is a part of the TRACECA transport corridor. Recently, representatives of the Iranian Ministry of Transport took part in a meeting of the same organization in Odessa, which points to Iran’s eagerness to create a base for shipping and transport in Azerbaijan as a connection from Iran to Europe. The intentions of Iran seem very real indeed. In today’s world, we are witnessing a growing trend in diversification of transportation and shipping networks – no one wants to be dependent upon one route alone.”
Should such a shipping route coalesce, Iran would be able to ship around 3 million tons of goods per year into Europe. The route would pass through Georgia, and from there via the ports of the Black Sea to Europe. The scheduled launch of the Baku – Tbilisi – Kars railway would also provide a viable route apart from shipping directly from Iran into Turkey. Though this route would increase the expenses of Iranian carriers, the security of transported goods is, of course, a priority:
“Both countries are actively modernizing their railways, which means that the loss of time will be compensated b the increased speed of freight trains.” Mustafayev commented.
TRACECA is a transport program of international cooperation between the EU and partner countries in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Its permanent secretariat is located in Baku. Participating countries in the TRACECA program include: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Moldova and Ukraine.