Turkmenistan is all set to open its Turkmenbashi port – which will be a substantial asset to the “Silk Road” by opening new horizons between China and Europe, a rail corridor and Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus (TRACECA), operating from western China through the Central Asian countries on its way to Europe.
Turkmenbashi port has great importance in Central Asia as it is located on the bank of the Caspian Sea; as such, companies in northwest China can navigate water routes to the region, reducing their distance by up to 3,000 kilometers.
The shortened distance will increase cargo transport between China and Europe, partly as a result of reduced costs.
In an interview on Russian television, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said that his country is ready to open the Turkmenbashi port and set to work with neighboring countries. He also expressed that Turkmenistan is more interested in strengthening the regional transportation system and upgrading the transport corridors.
He added that the opening of Turkmenbashi will unite all Central Asian countries, Russia, China, Iran and Turkey.
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK), Trans-Caspian Transit Corridor
The operation of Turkmenbashi will connect four ports in three countries (Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia), exemplifying a wonderful combination of road-to-road, road-to-sea, and sea-to-road cargo transportation.
Goods from China reach Turkmenbashi, and from there it will be transported through the Caspian Sea to Baku port in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway has become Central Asia’s gateway to Europe. The line is part of the Trans-Caspian Transit Corridor (TCTC) and was initiated by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and inaugurated in October 2017.
Through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, these goods enter Georgia at two main ports – Poti and Batumi – and then onwards to Turkey and Europe. The connection of these four ports with an influx of Chinese trade will help these countries enhance their economies through various means.
This is actually the revival of the ancient Silk Road or the Maritime Silk Road, the route for traders in the region centuries ago.
China is working hard on the renewal of the Silk Road, which will not only strengthen ties with these countries along the route, but also benefit local communities. Infrastructure such as roads and bridges will connect locals to sources of trade, and thus improve their lives.
21st Century Belt and Road Initiative
Through these kinds of projects, China plans to bring an economic revolution to these countries through the 21st Century Belt and Road initiative.
This mechanism will speed up the cargo transport by bringing a trade boom to China and European countries.
With the operation of Turkmenbashi port, delayed projects like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline will gear up due to an increase in trade activities and the new route functioning in this region.
The Belt and Road is connecting roads, bridges from land to sea and sea to land from one continent to another. Indeed, it’s like connecting minds and hearts from one country to another. This amazing connectivity will encourage greater openness, inclusiveness, progress and prosperity of mankind.
(Malik Ayub Sumbal is a columnist, political analyst and broadcaster. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.)