Latvia, Azerbaijan can get new transit opportunities via Belt and Road Initiative

Latvia and Azerbaijan can get new transit opportunities via the Belt and Road Initiative, Minister of Economics of the Republic of Latvia Ralfs Nemiro said in an interview with Trend.

Talking in general about Azerbaijan’s contribution to strengthening connectivity in Europe, Nemiro mentioned the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway.

“The railway line Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is a very important element in the East-West transit corridor for Azerbaijan. In the future this railway line will serve for the development of new transit routes from China and Central Asia to Southern Europe via Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Black Sea,” he said.

The minister noted that for Latvia East-West transit corridor development does also play a very important role, but it is serving a gateway to Northern part of Europe via the Baltic Sea.

“Latvia is actively promoting cooperation with China in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. We have organized several container test trains between China and Europe via Latvia which showed very good results. Latvia is also responsible for logistics cooperation in the framework of China and 17 Central and Eastern European Countries (17+1 Format). In this context, we believe that the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as other logistics chain routes in Eurasia may create new opportunities for transit corridors between Azerbaijan and Latvia. We see that the existing East-West routes from Caspian and the Black Sea region may be supplemented with the North-South route between the Black Sea and Latvian ports via Ukraine and Belarus in order to provide an access to Northern Europe,” added Nemiro.

As for Azerbaijan’s contribution to Europe’s energy security, Nemiro highlighted the Southern Gas Corridor project.

“Since the Southern Gas Corridor is a European Commission initiative with a goal to reduce Europe’s natural gas dependency on Russian natural gas and to improve energy diversification, Latvia sees this project as highly valuable step towards Europe’s energy security. Latvia welcomes this project and sees it as beneficial for the whole Europe’s natural gas market. New natural gas sources and routes will benefit for the whole energy market and consumers. Despite ambitious EU climate goals, natural gas will still have an important role in energy market during transition period to renewables, and we are looking forward to successful cooperation in the future,” said the minister.

The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority projects for the EU and envisages the transportation of 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian region through Georgia and Turkey to Europe.

The launching ceremony of the first stage of the Southern Gas Corridor was held in Baku on May 29, 2018, while opening ceremony of TANAP was held on June 12, 2018 in the Turkish city of Eskisehir.

The gas from the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field has already gone through the first segment of the Southern Gas Corridor – from the Sangachal terminal to the expanded South Caucasus Pipeline.

Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) were connected on the Turkish-Greek border.

The official opening ceremony of the BTK railway was held in Baku Oct. 30, 2017. The BTK railway was constructed on the basis a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement.

The railway’s peak capacity will be 17 million tons of cargo per year. At an initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo.