Coordination Platform For Middle Corridor To Launch Soon - EU Ambassador (Exclusive Interview)

(MENAFN- Trend News Agency) BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 13. Kestutis Jankauskas,the EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan, informed Trend in an exclusiveinterview that the coordination platform for the Trans-CaspianInternational Transport Route (TITR, or Middle Corridor) willlaunch soon.

"Trans-Caspian International Transport Route allows freight topass sanctions-free countries between Europe, Central Asia, the EU,and China. Its infrastructure will increase, making deliveriesfaster than the sea route. Last year, the European Bank forReconstruction and Development introduced an EU-funded study onMiddle Corridor hard and soft bottlenecks. The EU convened aCorridor investment forum in Brussels in January 2024 for allcountries and potential funders. Infrastructure improvements werepromised 10 billion euros. A TITR coordination platform will soonunite all route players," he said.

According to the ambassador, for the Middle Corridor to functionproperly and offer a viable alternative transportation route, allcountries along it should work together, enabling smooth shipmentprocedures. That involves not only countries in Central Asia, butalso Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, and Türkiye.

Jankauskas also noted that Kazakhstan is at the crossroadsbetween Europe, Asia, the European Union, and China.

"Kazakhstan is nestled between Europe, Asia, and China. MostChina-EU land cargo passes through Kazakhstan. Much of this trademoved through Russia via the Northern Route for decades. AfterRussia invaded Ukraine and the EU imposed sanctions, somecorporations have moved their logistic activities out of sanctionedcountries. Trans-Caspian International Transport Route developmentaccelerated. This approach allows EU-Central Asia trade andspeedier cargo transit between China and Europe than via water,"Jankauskas said.

As the ambassador pointed out, according to several studies,there is a huge potential to at least triple the traffic throughthis corridor by 2030.

"This would help to better connect Kazakhstan to the globaleconomy and contribute to economic growth in the region. Kazakhstanis working on several projects simultaneously to provide betterservices along the Middle Corridor," he noted.

Speaking about energy cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU,the ambassador noted that Kazakhstan has been an energy partner ofthe EU for decades, currently supplying over 8 percent of the EU'soil consumption.

"This became even more important after Russian oil stoppedcoming to the EU market. The majority of that oil flows via CPCpipeline, and the EU exempted oil not originating from Russia fromits sanctions. Kazakhstan is trying to diversify its oil suppliesto Europe and world markets. One of the ways is to ship it via theCaspian Sea and Azerbaijan. The amount of Trans-Caspian oil transithas been growing during the last two years, but its amount islimited due to the lack of port and shipping infrastructure and having alternative export routes is alwaysimportant," the ambassador said.

Jankauskas noted that the EU is interested in expandingcooperation with Kazakhstan in the field of renewable energysources.

"As the EU moves away from fossil fuels, we want to work withKazakhstan on renewable energy and green technologies. Kazakhstanis abundant in solar and wind power. So far, it has implementedcertain renewable power producing facilities with Europeaninvestors," he said.

According to the ambassador, one of the largest is theGerman-Swedish SVEVIND project to produce green hydrogen in theWestern Mangystau region of Kazakhstan.

"Within two years, it will supply Kazakhstan with green hydrogento boost its global competitiveness and send green energy toEurope. So, project success depends on the Trans-Caspian corridor,"Jankauskas noted.

He pointed out that European companies are also successfullydeveloping renewable wind or solar projects in Kazakhstan.

"The Team Europe Initiative on Water, Energy and Climate, whichbundles activities from Member States and the EU in Central Asia,will start its implementation with a first 20 million euro programand support regional energy cooperation and grid development. Ourexperience in Europe shows that such cooperation will stimulate thegreen transition and the reduction of emissions," he added.

Speaking in general about current and possible areas ofcooperation, the ambassador noted that the EU-Kazakh EnhancedPartnership and Cooperation Agreement provides a legal base forcooperation in 29 areas.

"Over the last several years, trade cooperation between the EUand Kazakhstan has been growing. While energy, includingrenewables, remains the largest area of cooperation, there is agrowing potential for cooperation in the area of critical rawmaterials, as provided by the bilateral memorandum signed inNovember 2022," he said.

According to the ambassador, agriculture and water managementoffer good investment opportunities.

"Development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Routeis expected to attract cargo flows from all the countries ofCentral Asia and to provide not only for transit but also fortransport and logistic hub development. The advancement of aviationwill enable better people-to-people contacts in business,education, and tourism. Our Digital Satellite Connectivity Projectwill provide alternative connectivity and better internet to remotevillages," he noted.

Jankauskas pointed out that the EU and Kazakhstan establisheddiplomatic relations 31 years ago, and since then, the sides havebeen developing mutually beneficial partnerships. Over the years,the EU has become Kazakhstan's largest trading partner and thebiggest investor in the country.

"In 2007, the European Union adopted its first strategy onCentral Asia, which was updated in 2019. Both the EU and CentralAsia share strong common interests in prosperity, connectivity,energy, and security. Kazakhstan was the first country in CentralAsia to sign a new generation Enhanced Partnership and CooperationAgreement (EPCA) with the European Union in 2015. It has been fullyin force since 2020 and provides a legal base for deepening andwidening cooperation in 29 areas of political, social, and economiclife," he said.

Jankauskas noted that during the past three decades, the EU hasimplemented a variety of projects to advance our mutual relationsas well as the security and stability of the countries in CentralAsia: border management, rule of law, fight against smuggling,water management, green transformation, energy efficiency,promotion of interregional trade and trade with the EU, SMEs,education, strengthening resilience, and human capitaldevelopment.


Trend News Agency

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