Ambassador: Hungary interested in joining BTK
Hungary is interested in connecting to Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, Hungarian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Viktor Szederkenyi told Trend.
For Hungary every infrastructural project is important, which connects Europe and Asia, said the envoy, adding that in this regard, the country attaches great importance to Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.
"We consider that the BTK is a global, open project, and of course Hungarian side is interested in participating and connecting to it, because this railway line will shorten the transportation distance and time to and from Asia. This issue is regularly on the agenda of our political meetings," said Szederkenyi.
Further, the diplomat pointed out that the Alat Sea Trade Port project is examined by the Hungarian side, as well as the operating conditions of the free trade zone established in the port.
As the Alat harbor is operating at the intersection of the North-South and East-West transport corridors, Hungary sees that it is becoming the multimodal hub of the Caspian region, noted Szederkenyi.
"In general, we want Hungary to become Azerbaijan’s gateway to the EU markets, we also believe that Azerbaijan – through its multi-vectoral infrastructure projects – may become our gateway to the larger region," said the ambassador.
On October 30, a solemn ceremony on the occasion of the opening of the BTK railway was held at the Baku International Sea Trade Port. Two trains from Kazakhstan to Turkish Mersin have already been sent via this route. The first train, consisting of 30 containers, on November 4, delivered 600 tons of wheat to the Turkish city of Mersin. The second freight train left Kazakhstan on November 27. The train has already reached Georgia.
The BTK railway is constructed on the basis of the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey intergovernmental agreement. The main purpose of the project is to improve economic relations between the three countries and attract foreign direct investment by connecting Europe and Asia.
In fact, the BTK railway route is the shortest way to deliver cargo from the Russian regions located in the Volga, Ural and Siberian Federal Districts to the Mediterranean ports of Turkey, and further to the countries of Africa and the Middle East.
The project implementation began in 2007 and construction began in 2008. The line is intended to transport one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight at the first stage. This capacity will then reach 3 million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo.
The Port in Alat, which will become the biggest port on the Caspian Sea, is an important part of Azerbaijan's transport infrastructure.
The Baku International Sea Trade Port is located on an area of 400 hectares of land, of which about 100-115 ha cover the area for the development of the international Logistics and Trade Zone. The northern areas around the port are reserved for future expansion of logistics, industrial, and manufacturing activity.
The Port is expected to become one of the leading trade and logistics hubs of Eurasia. The implementation of all three phases of construction is projected to increase the capacity up to 7,660 tons on a daily basis.
The cargo handling capacity of the port, opened on May 14, 2018 with the participation of President Ilham Aliyev, within the first phase is 15 million tons, including 100,000 containers per year. Seven of 12 existing berths serve dry cargo ships, two berths - ferries, two more berths - Ro-Ro and Ro-Pax vessels.
In 2017, the volume of freight traffic through the Baku International Sea Trade Port (excluding the oil terminal) rose by 31 percent and totaled 4.4 million tons as compared to 2016. About 85.7 percent of the total volume accounted for the share of transit cargo transportation.
President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on March 17, 2016, on measures to create a free trade zone type special economic area covering the territory of the Baku International Sea Trade Port in the Alat township of Baku’s Garadagh District.
The FTZ is expected to bring up to $1 billion just in the first few years. Special tax and customs policy, which will be pursued in the territory of the free trade zone will also stipulate further development and simplification of a number of procedures.
The Baku International Sea Trade Port has signed a number of documents on cooperation with foreign partners.
Memorandums of understanding were signed between Baku International Sea Trade Port CJSC and China’s Lianyungang Port Holding Group Ltd, China’s COSCO SHIPPING Lines Co., LTD and Mumbai Port Trust (India).
The memorandum of cooperation was signed between the Baku International Sea Trade Port and China’s Port of Guangzhou.
All above mentioned measures undertaken will undoubtedly play an important role in strengthening the country's transport infrastructure.