The 5th session of the Intergovernmental Turkmen-Azerbaijani Commission on economic cooperation will be held in Ashgabat on September 13. Before the talks, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a resolution appointing the Intergovernmental Commission on the Turkmen part.
During the meeting, the IAC will draw up the guidance for economic cooperation between the neighboring states in the Caspian Sea.
It should be noted that at present Ashgabat and Baku have placed primary emphasis of economic partnership upon the transport and transit region. The basis of Turkmen-Azerbaijani transport cooperation was laid during the talks between President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Ashgabat last November.
Most of the bilateral documents, signed at that time, were devoted to the expansion of bilateral partnership in the field of sea transportation, road transport, railway communication, customs agencies, ports of Turkmenbashi and Baku, etc.
In parallel, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have executed great work on creating a modern land and sea transport infrastructure. It is no coincidence that even the opening of new international sea trade ports in Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan occurred almost simultaneously – in May 2018. Today we can talk about a high-scale integration of trading ports of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
And of course, despite the breakthrough of the Turkmen-Azerbaijani partnership in the transport sector, the potential for cooperation between Ashgabat and Baku is still high in the oil and gas sector.
Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have considerable reserves of hydrocarbon resources. At the same time, each country has its own specifics in this area. Turkmenistan is rich in natural gas; Azerbaijan – in oil. This specificity determines the main project in the sphere of gas trade, to which both Baku and Ashgabat show their interest – the natural gas supply to Europe.
Azerbaijan already supplies gas to Turkey, and next year will begin gas exports to Southern Europe. At the same time, Baku always officially states that it is ready to consider the issue of Turkmenistan’s involvement in this project. But to do this, it is necessary to build a Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline on the seabed connecting the Azerbaijani and Turkmen shores of the Caspian Sea. And, by the way, it was allowed by the Convention on legal status, adopted in Kazakhstan, in August of last year.
At present, some Caspian neighbors express their concerns that the construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline may damage the Caspian ecology. The fear of neighbors cannot be just dismissed; it is necessary to analyze them seriously. And that takes time. After all, the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea has been discussed for more than 20 years.
It is entirely possible that we’ll have to explain for years to neighbors in the Caspian Sea that the construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline will be carried out consistent with the most stringent environmental requirements.
Ultimately, there is a full understanding on this issue between Baku and Ashgabat. In the meantime, at the meetings of the Intergovernmental Commission, it is necessary to discuss and prepare economic projects in other areas for the implementation. Fortunately, there are a lot of them too.