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New transport projects in the region
Material posted: -Publication date: 04-06-2014

Recently has intensified its efforts in the implementation of transport projects of international importance. This also applies to the regions of the South Caucasus and Caspian sea, to the final stage can be reached on a few projects. Unfortunately, in a certain sense, they may adversely affect the regional interests of the Republic of Armenia.

Gazvin-Rasht-Astara: the final stage?

In early may, the discussion on the prospects of railway construction Gazvin-Rasht-Astara railway linking Iran and Azerbaijan. Particular impetus to these discussions gave the April visit of the Azeri President to Tehran, the value of which was highly appreciated both in Iran and Azerbaijan.

It would be a mistake to say that the visit of I. Aliyev made a strategic change in the Iranian-Azerbaijani relations, as signed during the visit documents have strategic importance and are narrow and local areas. At the same time, the Iranian-Azerbaijani talks at the highest level broke the ice formed in recent years in inter-state relations. This became evident from reports the official Iranian media, in which information about the discussions Rouhani and Aliyev on the Karabakh theme was completed with brief information about the conflict, almost exactly the same as the Azerbaijani perspective: 20% of occupied territories, the Armenian armed forces and one million refugees.

Anyway, after the talks between the presidents of Iran and Azerbaijan have intensified discussion regarding the implementation of joint projects between the two States. Of these projects in may to the first plan was put forward the construction of the railway Gazvin-Rasht-Astara, which not only connects the highway of Iran and Azerbaijan, but will also give the opportunity to establish direct transport links from the Persian Gulf to the Baltic sea. The project is global in nature, its implementation was suspended due to the isolation of Iran and the strained relations between Iran and Azerbaijan. However, in both directions lately visible processes some improvement.

So, in may the Governor of the Iranian province of Gilan Ali Najafi in response to a question the official Iranian news Agency Irna said that Iran's President has instructed all relevant ministries of the government in the shortest possible time to complete the construction of the railway Dazvin-Resht-Astara.

Perhaps the answer of the Governor of Gilan has not received great attention, since in the context of the ongoing Iran economic crisis there are no state funds to Finance major projects. However, on may 7 in Astana took part in the meeting of heads of Railways of the CIS as an observer, the Director of the Railways of Iran Mohmed agai met with the Directors of the Railways of Azerbaijan and Russia, and at the trilateral meeting it was decided that the railroad Gazvin-Rasht-Astara will build JSC "Russian Railways". About it the next day officially declared Vladimir Yakunin, who called the project important and promising.

Russia's interest the project can be explained both strategic and tactical considerations. In strategic terms, the project creates a rather favorable prospects for Russia, because Russia gives Moscow the opportunity to become an international transit hub. In tactical terms, this project is also important because it gives you the opportunity to breathe new life into actively discussed in the recent "oil deal" Russia-Iran. Recall that, under a possible deal, Iran in exchange for goods and services will export to Russia oil by about $15 billion Given the limited directed on export of the Russian economy, the implementation of such exports is difficult to imagine. However, in terms of services (e.g., railway construction) Moscow is not so limited. In this regard Gazvin-Rasht-Astara – profitable project for Russia both in strategic and in tactical terms.

The Caspian railway chain

However, the activation of Iran in the transport sphere is not limited to Dazvin-Resht-Astara. On another order of the President of Iran accelerated work on the construction of the railway Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan, which, according to the Minister of transport and urban development of Iran Abbas of Fundi to be completed in October this year. It is not only about the Iranian section of the railway, but the railway as a whole. It is envisaged that in the near future Railways of Iran through Gazvin-Rasht-Astara will be contacted by Azerbaijan and Russia, and on the second draft – with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. In the first case, Iran among others will have the opportunity through Azerbaijan prisoedinilsya to the railway of Georgia and to contact the port of Poti, and in the second case – through the construction of the railway Kazakhstan-China opens the opportunity to link the Railways of Iran and China.

Acceleration works in both directions mainly due to the fact that Tehran is trying to use this window due to the partial settlement of the relations with the West "window of opportunity" for closer economic and political relations with neighbouring countries.

At the same time, it should be noted that the construction of the railway line Gazvin-Rasht-Astara significantly reduces the prospect of the construction of the railway Iran-Armenia, since both of the project from a geographical point of view serve the same purpose: creating a transport corridor North-South. In these circumstances, the implementation of one project reduces the chances second.


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