Caspian Brief: July 3, 2017
Iran to complete part of North-South Corridor by September
The part of the North-South Corridor that extends from southern Iran to the northern city of Rasht will be completed by September as a small length of railway near the port city is going to be finished by then, according to Gilan Province Governor General Mohammad Ali Najafi.
On the other hand, the 196-kilometer part that extends from Rasht further north to the border city of Astara will take four years, he told ILNA news agency July 2.
The International North-South Transport Corridor is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia. It will serve as a link connecting the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.
Najafi noted that Azerbaijan has provided for 500 million euros of the Rasht-Astara section. The section is said to need a total of 1 billion euros to be completed.
He further said that a 2-kilometer-long part of the railroad connecting Iran’s Astara to Azerbaijan is being built and will take cargo heading from Europe and loaded to trucks to continue thier way southward.
Two North — South Transport Corridor-related projects in Iran would be inaugurated by September 2017, the General Director of Iranian Railways Saeed Mohammadzadeh told Trend June 19.
He added that Qazvin-Rasht (162 kilometers) section as well as Astara-Astara section (8 km in Azerbaijan’s territory and 2 km in Iranas well as an 82.5-meter railway bridge over Astara River) as part of the International North-South Transport Corridor is projected to be completed by September.
Lapis Lazuli Corridor Agreement Set to be Signed By 5 Countries
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) on Saturday said during the finance minister’s recent trip to Georgia, he spoke to officials from five countries along the Lapis Lazuli Corridor and they all agreed to sign an agreement based on transporting goods to European markets.
The agreement is set to be signed between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey in the near future.
“The Lapis Lazuli Corridor is very important for Afghanistan and for four other countries, because it has a direct effect on the economy of the countries. All the necessary documents are ready. We have spoken with Georgia and officials from the other countries and we want the agreement to be signed in the near future,” finance ministry spokesman Ajmal Hamid said.
According to Hamid, Georgia has also agreed to help Afghanistan transport its products to European markets.
Afghanistan and Georgia in addition to expanding economic cooperation, agreed to establish a joint chamber of commerce.
Meanwhile, Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said Afghanistan should be fully prepared to use the Lapis Lazuli Corridor for exports and imports.
According to ACCI, the lack of transit and trade agreements and also visa problems for Afghan traders are the most challenging problems in the way of using the corridor.
“First we should resolve the problems regarding Afghan traders’ visas. Government should resolve the problem through the foreign ministry and through diplomatic channels,” ACCI deputy head, Atiqullah Nusrat said.
Currently Afghanistan only imports non-alcoholic beverages from Georgia. Nothing is exported there.
However, ACCI officials said Georgia as a transit country can play a significant role in helping Afghanistan to take its goods to Europe.
Xi’s Russia visit to inject new impetus into bilateral ties, Eurasian integration: Chinese ambassador
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Russia will inject fresh impetus into the high-level development of bilateral relations and the economic integration of the Eurasian region, said Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui.
At the invitation of President Vladimir Putin, Xi will pay a state visit to Russia in early July, which Li said marks “the most important event for bilateral ties this year.”
The two presidents will meet for the third time this year, following meetings on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing and the Astana summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Xi and Putin, Li said in a recent interview, will make strategic plans for further improving China-Russia relations, strengthening practical cooperation and advancing the connection of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
They will also exchange views on enhancing global governance as well as international and regional hotspot issues, added the ambassador.
“The comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia has been developing stably, sustainably and at a high level,” said Li.
In dealing with international affairs, China and Russia have strengthened strategic coordination and played their due role as big countries, said Li, noting that they have been jointly pushing for a political settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Syrian issue.
The two countries, he pointed out, serve as the ballast for regional and global peace and stability.
It is a strategic choice for China and Russia to strengthen their relations since it is in line with the core interests of both countries and their peoples, said Li.
“No matter how the international environment changes, we should make all-out efforts to maintain and improve bilateral relations,” said the ambassador.
Uzbekistan to build new airport complex
A state-of-the-art airport complex will be built for civil aviation in the Qibray District, Tashkent Region under a decree of Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
The decree was published on the Uzbek president’s website June 30.
The new airport complex will be built instead of the Tashkent 4 International Passenger Terminal of the Tashkent International Airport, the construction of which has been temporarily suspended.
The project cost and construction period are not specified.
Tashkent International Airport is a part of the Uzbekistan Airways. Uzbekistan Airways is a monopoly carrier in Uzbekistan and is wholly owned by the state. It carries out flights to 22 cities in the US, Europe, Middle East, Asia, 24 cities of the CIS member countries, as well as 11 local destinations.
Russian Company to Build Airport in Qom
Russian company Regiontransneft has taken over the project to construct an airfield complex in the Iranian city of Qom worth €2.8 billion. According to RIA Novosti, the Russian company has begun the construction process of the complex project which belonged to a local private Iranian holding. The company also plans to build the railway station for freights and passengers and the bus terminal.
Moreover, Regiontransneft plans to create flight training centers, centers for maintenance of aircraft in Qom.
Development in the field of pilgrim tourism will become one of the important factors that will involve the construction of hotels and the accompanying infrastructure.
In June, Reuters reported that Iran is in talks with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to forge a free trade pact.
In turning to the EEU, Iran would be building on increasing trade, economic and military ties with Russia.
Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi and EEU Trade Minister Veronika Nikishina met in St. Petersburg in June to discuss a free trade pact.
Iran has compiled a list of 200 items to trade with the EEU, according to Press TV. If a free trade pact were signed, Iran would grant EEU members preferential tariffs for three years before launching free trade, Vaezi said.
Free trade would bring the Islamic Republic closer to joining the EEU — a Russia-led trade bloc formed in 2015 that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
OSCE to monitor Azerbaijani, Armenian troops’ contact line
The OSCE is expected to monitor the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops on July 4, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said July 3.
The monitoring will be held under the mandate of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative along the line of contact near the Ashagi Veysalli village of Azerbaijan’s Fuzuli district, said the ministry.
On the Azerbaijani side, the monitoring will be held by Ghenadie Petrica and Simon Tiller, who are field assistants of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative.
On the Azerbaijani territories occupied and controlled by Armenian armed forces, the monitoring will be held by Mikhail Olaru and Ognjen Jovic, who are field assistants of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative.