President Erdogan’s initiative for a 3 + 3 regional co-operation format in the South Caucasus offers the possibility of opening up the region through an extensive network of land corridors. Not everyone has welcomed the initiative, but the prospect of turning a fragile region into a beacon of stability after a long period of instability and violence is a worthy aspiration, argues Fuad Shahbazov in this op-ed for KarabakhSpace.eu.
The second Karabakh war has shifted the geopolitical and geo-economic realities in the South Caucasus region, particularly heightening the possibility of competition over the region’s transport corridors. The Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement signed on 10 November brings with it the possibility of opening a number of transit routes, which have been closed for almost 30 years. In the aftermath of the Armenian forces’ devastating defeat in the 44-day war, the idea of regional co-operation becomes increasingly important. Continue reading
On February 6, the Azerbaijan-China Business forum held in Beijing gathered together a number of state officials including Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev, the Chairman of the Export and Investment Promotion Fund of Azerbaijan (AZPROMO), as well as officials from the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Chinese Council of Propaganda of International Trade. The business forum was reportedly devoted to the Trans-Caspian Transit Corridor as part of China-led ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, a corridor of 6,500 km links Asia with Europe and passes through countries including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. A flagship project of the corridor, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) Railway, was inaugurated in October in 2017. The railway connects Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, establishing a freight and passenger link between Europe and China. During the inauguration ceremony President Ilham Aliyev stated that “Baku-Tbilisi-Kars will connect not only countries, but continents as well.” Thus, the BTK project is undoubtedly has enormous importance to the competitiveness of the Trans-Caspian corridor. Continue reading
Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency
In May 2017, China hosted an international summit in Beijing gathering 28 heads of state from four continents and representatives of various international organizations. The summit was devoted to the Belt and Road Initiative, referring to overland and maritime routes across the Eurasian landmass. One of the most significant moments of the summit was the meeting between China’s and Pakistan’s leaders and the signing of a new agreement (MoU), adding to the US$ 46 billion already pledged for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a network of rail, road and energy infrastructure. During the event, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, requesting their investment in CPEC.
BACKGROUND: CPEC is the flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative and has been seen as a “game changer” in the regional geopolitical discourse since it was formally unveiled in April 2015. It has become the foremost bilateral initiative between China and Pakistan and has a budget of over US$ 46 billion. As part of this initiative, an opening ceremony was held on May 6, 2016 in the city of Sukkur in Pakistan’s Sindh Province, marking the beginning of construction of a section of highway between Sukkur and the city of Multan, which will be part of a network of highways connecting the cities of Peshawar and Karachi. Continue reading
This past January, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended a session on “The Silk Road Effect” at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, alongside Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili (President.az, January 19). Presumably, the intention of both leaders was to promote the importance of the new China-led “Silk Road Economic Belt” project and its role in the future development of the economy and infrastructure in the South Caucasus. As a source of and as a transit corridor for strategic global resources such as oil and natural gas, as well as the intersection of important transportation routes between the East and West as well as the North and South, the South Caucasus holds great geostrategic importance. While a relatively low priority for China during the early 2000s, more recently the South Caucasus has become an area of great interest as an extension of the highly ambitious Chinese Silk Road project, which aims to connect Europe and East Asia via new roads and railways across the Eurasian landmass. But China’s real connection with the region will likely come when the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars (BTK) railway is finally completed. The railroad and its connection to Chinese Silk Road transit corridors further east will facilitate China’s ability to ship goods westward across the South Caucasus isthmus and, more generally, boost trade opportunities in the region. The agreement for the railway connection was signed in 2005, during President Aliyev’s first visit to Beijing. Continue reading
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Tajikistan section of Line-D of the Central Asia-China gas pipelines in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, on September 13 (HUANG JINGWEN)
China’s gradually increasing economic role in Central Asia since the early 2000s is unsurprising considering the region’s geographic proximity to China’s dynamic economy. In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September 2016, Beijing offered to finance and build several outposts and other military facilities (in addition to the Gulhan post, which was opened in 2012) to beef up Tajikistan’s defense capabilities along its border with Afghanistan, whereas China’s and Tajikistan’s militaries performed a large counter-terrorism exercise in October 2016. These unexpected actions have raised concerns in Russia over rising Chinese influence in Tajikistan.
China’s gradually increasing economic role in Central Asia since the early 2000s is unsurprising considering the region’s geographic proximity to China’s dynamic economy. In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September 2016, Beijing offered to finance and build several outposts and other military facilities (in addition to the Gulhan post, which was opened in 2012) to beef up Tajikistan’s defense capabilities along its border with Afghanistan, whereas China’s and Tajikistan’s militaries performed a large counter-terrorism exercise in October 2016. These unexpected actions have raised concerns in Russia over rising Chinese influence in Tajikistan. Continue reading