Russian President Vladimir Putin along with other leaders at the meeting of the CIS heads of state in Saint Petersburg on Monday (All images courtesy: Kremlin.ru)
The Russia-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) grouping has once again stressed the importance of strengthening the transport and logistics architecture of the Eurasian region via the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and its linking to Chabahar port in Iran being jointly developed by India.
At a New Year’s Eve meeting held in the historic Russian city of Saint Petersburg on Monday, the CIS leaders exchanged views on issues of further strengthening of multilateral cooperation of the member states and discussed issues related to regional and international cooperation of mutual interest.
The “informal” meeting was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Japarov, Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
As the “friendly circle” – as it was described by Putin – sat down to summarize cooperation results of 2022 and set priority tasks for 2023, the need for the formation of a full-fledged free trade zone in the CIS area and strengthening of interdependence in terms of transport and connectivity was reiterated.
“New mechanisms and formats of cooperation are needed to improve the efficiency of transport and logistics projects in the CIS. Here, the North-South international corridor is of particular importance, in which the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway is an important transport artery,” Tokayev told the gathering.
“We know that the Russian Federation has also shown a practical interest in the implementation of this project. Naturally, this is welcome,” the Kazakhstan President added.
Tokayev was perhaps pointing to Putin’s call for the “speedy launch” of INSTC made at the Caspian Summit in Ashgabat in July earlier this year.
As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, at the meeting, Putin spoke in detail about the 7,200 km-long, multimodal trade corridor which will start from Mumbai, with nodes in West Asia, Central Asia, Caucasia and Russia covering large swathes of territory in landlocked Eurasia.
“The speedy launch of this corridor is intended to be facilitated by the agreement between the Caspian states on cooperation in the field of transport, which came into force last year, which is aimed at turning the Caspian Sea region into a major international logistics hub,” Putin said at the meeting which was also attended by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
The Caspian Five had acknowledged the huge significance of the large-scale project which would eventually link the far-west Russian city Saint Petersburg to the ports of Iran and India.
In Saint Petersburg on Monday, Turkmenistan also emphasised the importance of promoting the economic interests of the CIS member countries far from the geographical boundaries of the region.
“First of all, transit transport infrastructures should be created, energy transmission routes should be expanded, and new communication and communication systems should be built,” insisted Berdimuhamedov.
New Delhi has been calling for exploiting the full potential of Chabahar port and the north-south corridor to unlock the economic capacity of the region.
India has maintained that Chabahar can not only unlock the region’s economic ambitions but also turn into one of the most important ports in the world in the near future by becoming the gateway for trade with Europe, Russia, and CIS countries.
Tehran has already begun testing the INSTC connectivity routes with the successful completion of the first transit of goods from Astrakhan to Mumbai, a few months ago.