Turkmenistan’s initiative to create transnational transport corridors

The demand for intercontinental transportation of the countries of Asia, Indochina, the Middle East and Europe and competition in the market of international transport services creates a necessity for exploring new options of cost­ effective transport links between Europe and Asia.

The effective use of existing infrastructure is becoming the dominant principal for the developing of integrated transport systems, including railways, motorways, airports, inland waterways, seaports and pipelines.

This is illustrated by the Ashgabat Declaration adopted at the International Conference in 2014, by the Almaty Declaration and the New Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for 2014-2024 that aim to build systematic collective efforts to overcome the barriers to transport and trade.

Turkmenistan has a favourable geographical location which is strengthening its position as a major transit and transport junction point of regional and continental significance.

Taking into account the objective realities, Turkmenistan has developed its own concept of cooperation with the international community in the transport sector.

The creation of extensive transit and transport networks in Turkmenistan is a powerful impetus for development in the country and in whole region. It includes the North – South transnational railway that links the rail network of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran, offers the shortest route from European countries to South Asia.

In accordance with the rail transport development programme the domestic railways and technical facilities were modernized, a number of train stations, railway bridges, new railway routes were built and put into operation.

Currently the construction of railways on the routes Gazochak – Shahsenem – Dashoguz and Ekerem – Madau (Turkmenistan) are underway.

On October 30, 2016 Turkmen specialists laid the finishing rails at Akina station (IRA) – in the terminal point of the Turkmen-Afghan railway. The project of building the first stage (88 km) of the Asian international railway corridor – section Atamyrat-Imamnazar (Turkmenistan) – Akina (Afghanistan) has been carried out.

The railroad Atamyrat-Imamnazar-Akina, in turn, will be the first link in the Asian international transport corridor, which will provide an access to China’s diverse railway system and further to the rapidly developing states of the Asia-Pacific region.

As you see, an international transit and transport hub is being created, thousands of kilometres of railways and highways are being built, air and sea harbours are being reconstructed and modernized in Turkmenistan, which lies on important trade routes of the continent in the North – South and East – West directions.

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In recent years, Turkmenistan has launched a large – scale projects for construction of railway and highway bridges, the seaport in Turkmenbashi town, for reconstruction of airports which contribute to developing important regional and interregional transport routes running through our country on the North – South and East –West directions.

The opening of Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Iran, the North – South railway corridor is an important section in the formation of global market of transport services.

The total length of this railway route is 10.000 km and it takes about two weeks (14 days), compared to the sea routes which take 25-30 days.

The aim of the project is to facilitate transit – transport operations between North Europe, Russia and the Persian Gulf region, the Indian Ocean and South – East Asia through Iran. The North – South transnational transport corridor as an alternative to the sea route through the Suez Channel will be mainly used for container transportation.

It is not only an economically and commercially viable project but is an essential geopolitical factor which can have a major positive impact on the overall situation in the region and beyond.

In fact, it concerns the emergence of a new geo-economic environment that links Central Asia, Caspian countries, the Black Sea region and the Caucasus providing access to the Baltic States, Europe, the Persian Gulf region and South-East Asia, galvanizing the integration processes.

Turkmenistan gets an opportunity for modal redistribution of transit goods: shift from road, sea and air, to rail transportation. In particular, Turkmenistan is implementing the project for construction of Ashgabat – Turkmenbashi, Ashgabad-Dashhouz, Ashgabad-Turkmenabad-Farab highways.       Geographically and economically the Turkmenbashi international airport has an ideal location and transit capacity for transit and commercial freights and well as technical stops for refilling and can be used as a major cargo and logistics centre in Central Asia.

The new airport of Ashgabat is the largest in Central Asia with a footprint that occupies almost 1200 hectares. The modern airport will be able to serve more than 17 million passengers per year with the main terminal building accommodating around 14m passengers and the second terminal serving 3 million passengers. More than 200,000 tons of cargo will be able to transit via cargo terminal.

The construction of the new international seaport in Turkmebashi contributes to increasing freight and passenger traffic in the Caspian region. All this facilitates the formation of the major logistics centre that will be able to coordinate freight traffic in the region using sea, road and rail, will become the largest international logistic centre that will promote effective interstate relations on the Eurasian continent.

Making substantial investment in modem transport infrastructure, Turkmenistan lays a solid foundation for the development of the national economy, increases its attractiveness for investments and facilitates mutually beneficial international cooperation.

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As is known on September 3, 2014 Ashgabat hosted the International Conference on the Role of Transport and Transit Corridors in Ensuring International Cooperation of Stability and Sustainable Development and the Ashgabat Declaration was adopted on a basis of which on December 19, 2014 at the 69th Session of UN General Assembly adopted a special Resolution on transport and transit corridors.

In December 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted for the second time the Resolution of Transport Issues presented by Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan pays great attention to intensifying cooperation with the specialized UN Agencies in developing an international transport network.

Turkmenistan put forward the proposal to create a Model Highway for Central Asia with access to Turkey.

Turkmenistan contributing to the creation of the western transport corridor from Central Asia that plays an important role in reviving of the Great Silk Road.

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Other illustrative examples are: The Central Asia – Middle East transport corridor project – Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan – Iran – Oman and the project of Afghanistan – Turkmenistan – Azerbaijan – Georgia – Turkey – Europe transport corridor which can become an integral element of modern regional and international transport infrastructure in the future due to these countries.

On 22 December 2015 UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution initiated by Turkmenistan to hold international conference entitled “Towards comprehensive cooperation among all modes of transport for promoting sustainable multimodal transit corridors”. The adoption of this resolution opens new opportunities for the creation of a global partnership for sustainable transport. The Resolution also demonstrates the importance of addressing the special needs of land-locked countries, in particular, by establishing and promoting efficient transit transport systems that link them to international markets.

Recognizing the fundamental role of sustainable transport in fighting climate change and achieving sustainable development, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will convene the first-ever Global Sustainable Transport Conference. The Conference will be held on 26 and 27 November 2016 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and will contribute to the implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs) and targets.

Sustainable transport and mobility are crucial for sustainable development. They offer people access to crucial goods and services and allow them to live healthy and fulfilled lives. However, adequate transport infrastructure and affordable transport services are still lacking globally. Moreover, increased urbanization and motorization have resulted in unprecedented congestion, wasteful energy use, increased motor vehicle emissions and deteriorating urban air quality in many cities, in both industrialized and developing countries, with serious negative impacts on public health and well-being, living conditions and climate change. The furthering of sustainable transport and the establishment of affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound transport systems is therefore crucial and will be at the centre of the discussions at the Conference.

About 2,000 participants are expected to attend the Conference, including key stakeholders from Governments, UN system and other international organizations, the private sector, and civil society, to engage in a dialogue that emphasizes the integrated and cross-cutting nature of sustainable transport and its multiple roles in driving sustainable development worldwide.

All modes of transport—road, rail, aviation and maritime—will be addressed as well as the following issues:

  • Sustainable transport and sustainable development goals (SDGs)
  • Rural and urban transport
  • Public transport
  • Sustainable transport and climate change
  • Sustainable transport and energy
  • Road safety
  • Financing for sustainable transport
  • Countries in special situations

At the same time, discussions will address the issue of how to find a new paradigm for transport sustainability.

Apart from offering mutual learning and knowledge exchange, the Conference will provide a platform for forging partnerships and launching initiatives to advance sustainable transport objectives.

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Embassy of Turkmenistan

London