Azerbaijan Transportation - History

Azerbaijan Transportation - History

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AZERBAIJAN Transportation

36 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 27
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 7 (2006)
1 (2006)
gas 3,190 km; oil 2,436 km (2006)
total: 2,957 km
broad gauge: 2,957 km 1.520-m gauge (1,278 km electrified) (2005)
total: 59,141 km
paved: 29,210 km
unpaved: 29,931 km (2004)
Merchant marine:
total: 84 ships (1000 GRT or over) 405,395 GRT/436,666 DWT
by type: cargo 26, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 8, petroleum tanker 43, roll on/roll off 2, specialized tanker 3
registered in other countries: 4 (Georgia 2, Malta 2) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Baku (Baki)

Azerbaijan profile - Timeline

1828 - Turkmanchay treaty between Russia, Persia divides Azerbaijan. Territory of present-day Azerbaijan becomes part of Russian empire while southern Azerbaijan is part of Persia.

1848-49 - World's first oil well is drilled south of Baku.

1879 - Nobel brothers set up oil-production company.

1918 - Independent Azerbaijani Republic declared.

1920 - Red Army invades Azerbaijan is declared a Soviet Socialist Republic.

Armenia and Azerbaijan suspend “corridor” talks

Negotiations for a transit corridor have gotten off-track. (Azerbaijan Railways)

Armenia and Azerbaijan have stopped negotiating over reopening their borders and creating new transportation routes, setting the stage for more potential instability ahead even as on-the-ground tension has slightly abated.

On June 1, Armenia’s deputy prime minister Mher Grigoryan announced that the Armenia-Azerbaijan-Russia trilateral working group on transportation had suspended its work. “As of today the commission’s work isn’t continuing, because effective and successful work requires an appropriate environment,” he told a meeting of parliament. “When the situation on the border is like it is, I don’t think that constructive work is possible in this format. Contacts in this format have stopped, we will see what happens in the future.”

Armenia had always been the least enthusiastic participant in the working group, which was set up on January 9 when Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Moscow and the three signed an agreement on “unblocking” transportation corridors .

It is the only formal agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the November 10 ceasefire statement that ended last year’s 44-day war, and reflected above all Baku’s top strategic priority: a transportation connection between Azerbaijan’s mainland and its exclave of Nakhchivan through Armenia.

The January 9 agreement set out an aggressive timetable to work out the details of that and other transportation projects (though the Nakhchivan connection was the only one specifically identified): A working group (led by the deputy prime ministers of the three countries) would be formed by January 30, and they would present proposals to their respective leaderships by March 1.

The first benchmark was met: The group held its first meeting on January 30. Two weeks later, they had a videoconference . But little was heard from the group after that Sputnik Azerbaijan reported that the group had held only four meetings, and the last had been a March 1 videoconference. Meanwhile the main item on the group’s agenda – the Nakhchivan connection – became one of the sore points between the two sides.

The disagreement was expressed terminologically: Aliyev and other Azerbaijani officials have consistently referred to the connection as a “corridor.” Whether intentional or not, the use of the term “corridor” suggests a level of Azerbaijani sovereignty over the route that Yerevan doesn’t want and hadn’t signed up for. In the lexicon of the conflict, it contains an unavoidable echo of the “Lachin corridor,” the strip of land connecting Armenia to its protectorate of Nagorno-Karabakh. Any possible peace deal between the two sides was likely to stipulate Armenia’s usage of that corridor, though the precise nature of who would enjoy control of the road and how was never finally determined. But in the 26 years following the end of the first war, it was Armenia which enjoyed sole (if internationally unrecognized) control over the Lachin corridor.

In the November 10 ceasefire statement, who controls what in the Nakhchivan route is relatively clear: “Armenia shall guarantee the security of transport connections between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in order to arrange unobstructed movement of persons, vehicles and cargo in both directions. The Border Guard Service of the Russian Federal Security Service shall be responsible for overseeing the transport connections. As agreed by the parties, new transport links shall be built to connect the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and the western regions of Azerbaijan.”

That is, the territory would remain Armenian but Russian border guards would help ensure Azerbaijan’s free use of it for transportation.

And just as consistently as Azerbaijanis use the term “corridor,” Armenians reject the word. “I assure you that the Armenian side has not discussed and will not discuss ‘corridor logic’ issues,” Grigoryan told reporters on June 1. “If by saying ‘corridor’ some people mean transportation routes, it’s another question, if by saying ‘corridor’ they mean any degree of influence related to sovereignty, I assure you that this is impossible during my discussions.”

Whatever form the Nakhchivan route takes, the sovereignty is going to be complicated, and “corridor” could have a more innocent meaning. And Azerbaijanis have been pointing out that under the new conditions following the signing of the November 10 ceasefire, the Lachin corridor has an analogous situation – Azerbaijani territory that Armenians can use under Russian protection.

Farhad Mammadov, an Azerbaijani analyst, was asked in an interview with RFE/RL why Baku insists on the word. “After all there is something in it that sounds extraterritorial, which obviously alarms Armenia,” said the interviewer, Vadim Dubnov.

“It’s not about extraterritoriality, the issue is that Russian border guards will be providing security,” Mammadov answered. “There is no provision that the corridor will be extraterritorial. The Armenian side also will be able to use it. If there is a Lachin corridor, then there also should be a Zangezur one,” he said, using the name Azerbaijanis use for southern Armenia.

But those subtleties are easily lost amid the other aggressive rhetoric from Baku. Notably, in April Aliyev threatened to “open the corridor by force” if Armenia continued to stall.

Nevertheless, Pashinyan and other officials have been trying to argue – against significant public skepticism – that opening borders and creating new transportation routes would benefit Armenia, as well. But Armenia also has been pushing for an alternative route other than the one Azerbaijan wanted through Meghri. Yerevan’s preference was to restore another Soviet-era railroad , through Ijevan in northern Armenia and Gazakh in Azerbaijan. At the beginning of May, Grigoryan was reportedly preparing to propose that route to the trilateral working group.

But then tensions began to rise sharply between the two sides, starting with an advance by Azerbaijani troops along the southern border with Armenia, into what Armenia claimed was its territory. That led to several other border incidents and the tensest period between the two sides since last year’s war.

The border tension compounded previously existing grievances between the two sides, in particular Azerbaijan’s continued detention of Armenian prisoners of war and other detainees (Armenians have documented nearly 200), as well as Baku’s demand that Armenia hand over maps of the land mines that it appears to have laid in last year’s fighting and which regularly kill Azerbaijanis visiting the region. (Most recently, two journalists for Azerbaijani state media and a local official were killed on June 4 after their vehicle hit a mine in the Kelbajar region.)

It has become impossible to untangle this knot of claims and counterclaims, but one frequent Azerbaijani complaint had been that Armenia was dragging its feet on moving forward with the Nakhchivan route. The process was not very transparent and so it’s difficult to judge from publicly available evidence whether or not Armenia was dragging its feet, or simply not rushing at the speed that Azerbaijan wanted . Aliyev, in February, had already laid the foundation for a railroad in Azerbaijan’s section of the would-be Meghri route.

In any case, the suspension of the trilateral working group is only going to slow the process further. So it’s a bit odd that the reaction from Baku to the news has been muted. There have been some suggestions from Baku, though, that Azerbaijan could respond by shutting down the Lachin corridor. “Armenia is evading its obligations not to the commission, but to the November 10” ceasefire agreement, said Farid Shafiyev, the head of the government-run think tank Center for Analysis of International Relations. “In this case, of course Azerbaijan has the right to drop its obligations – if the corridors that we need aren’t open, then the Lachin corridor will be under question.”

Shafiyev added, though, that Baku would likely wait to respond until after Armenia’s elections, scheduled for June 20, when the Armenian government will likely have more room for maneuver.

Meanwhile, contacts between the two sides are continuing in other formats. Military officials from Armenia and Azerbaijan met with their Russian counterparts in Moscow on June 2 to discuss “de-escalation of the situation on various border regions of Armenia and Azerbaijan. It was agreed to continue working contacts,” a source familiar with the talks told the Russian news agency Tass. Sputnik Armenia reported that the delegations were led by Armenia’s deputy chief of general staff Arshak Karapetyan and the head of the border service Arman Gasparyan, Azerbaijan’s head of external intelligence Orhan Sultanov, and the commander of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, Rustan Muradov.

Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.

The white cheese, made from the milk of either goats or sheep, originates in the Caucasus Mountains. It tastes a little like feta. Motal Pendiri matures inside sheepskin and is hung to dry for several days. Eat in small amounts and expect an intense flavour.

Strings of smoked cheese are often eaten with beer and alcoholic drinks. The salty, chewy and smoky texture makes a great snack while imbibing. Smoked cheese isn’t a food unique to Azerbaijan, but enjoying in the same way as the locals is a cultural experience.

What Azerbaijan Plans To Do When The Oil Runs Out

Azerbaijan has read the writing on the wall: the oil is running out and the need to diversify its streams of economic sustenance is more vital now than ever.

Azerbaijan and oil are nearly inseparable. Azerbaijan was among the first oil producing countries in the world, and at the beginning of the 20th century it was generating half of the world's supply. That fossil fuel gave the country its reason to exist, the reason it has been repeatedly invaded, and the reason it has been able to fair relatively well economically after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is also the reason why the country has a shot to pull off one of the most dramatic economic turnarounds ever attempted.

And it is a turnaround that is needed: Azerbaijan has roughly 30 years of oil dependency left -- far less than Kazakhstan or Iran -- and the country is using its current resource wealth to place an all or nothing bet on developing its newly emerging transportation, agriculture, and tourism sectors.

“We understand that oil and gas are not permanent sources of income,” said Dr. Vusal Gasimli, the executive director of Azerbaijan’s Center for Economic Reforms and Communication. “From that point of view and the unpredictability of oil price made our country think about diversification.”

The Port of Baku. Image: Baku International Trade Port.

“The government has been thinking about post-oil or has been thinking about how we are going to position the country in addition to oil. What else are we going to do?” said Taleh Ziyadov, the Cambridge-educated director-general of the New Port of Baku at Alyat, a place which is rapidly becoming the beating heart of Azerbaijan’s logistics economy.

The road forward for Azerbaijan means looking back into its history, flipping straight to the pages of what has been retroactively dubbed the Silk Road. This ancient network of trade routes and transshipment hubs is now the inspiration for a very similar network that countries from China to Europe are actively rebuilding today.

“Azerbaijan was part of the Silk Road until the Mongols came and tore it apart,” said Eugene Seah, the operations manager of the New Port of Baku at Alyat . “We are putting it back together where it all started.”

Like in the past, Azerbaijan is at the heart of the Silk Road network, and is aiming to turn itself into a “hub of hubs.” Starting in the 2000s, the country embarked upon a national program to rejuvenate its transportation infrastructure in a bid to renew its ancient relevance as a key logistical node in the center of Eurasia. Using its mountains of petrodollars, Azerbaijan began building new highways, rail lines, airports, and sea ports across the country.

With the ambition to become a true intermodal transport hub, Baku opened one of the largest air cargo terminals in the CIS. Baku Cargo Terminal was designed to be an exact copy of the Luxembourg logistics center, and has obtained the same level of technological sophistication.

In 2011, phase one of the New Port of Baku at Alyat began. This Caspian Sea port eventually aims to handle 25 million tons of bulk cargo and 1 million TEU per year, and will include a giant free trade zone where goods can be manufactured on-site and rapidly exported.

Baku will also be one of the termini of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail line, which will more directly connect Azerbaijan with Georgia, Turkey, and Europe beyond, that is slated to open early next year.

In terms of major international highways, Azerbaijan has a 503 kilometer section of the TRACECA Corridor, which connects the EU with Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, and also makes up the middle stretch of the North-South Transport Corridor, which connects Russia and Iran.

There is also talk of Azerbaijan potentially creating additional free trade zones on its border regions.

“The commitment from the government must be there,” Ziyadov continued, “to know that this is coming to build the infrastructure ahead of time. That's what Azerbaijan is doing. . . The first phase of the infrastructure of the country has been done.”

In the beginning, it looked as if Azerbaijan was wantonly building logistical overcapacity — critics deemed that the new highways were unneeded, and at the time they may have been correct -- but now things are starting to look a little different for the transitioning nation.

“All of these investments that six or seven years ago pessimists said were useless we depend on them now," said Zaur Hasanov, the adviser to the director-general of the New Port of Baku at Alyat .

The entire overland intermodal journey between China and Europe via Baku takes roughly 15 days, which is two to three times faster than sea. Trains packed with European goods can roll into the New Port of Baku at Alyat, be loaded onto a ferry in a matter of hours and then shipped across the Caspian, where they will carry on along Silk Road corridors in Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan -- and vice versa for trains coming from China. Currently, 95% of trade between China and Europe is going by sea, completely bypassing Azerbaijan, but the type of cargo that does go overland by rail generally consists of high-value goods — such as electronics, agricultural products, meat, wine, and high-fashion items — and need to be delivered fast. It is this growing segment of the market that Azerbaijan is aiming to tap into.

Like neighboring Georgia, Azerbaijan hopes that its reestablished logistical position will create the opportunity to cash in on some key value-added potentialities.

"What we aim to do is integrate what we already have in this region, and in this region we have quite a lot of raw material, quite a lot of oil and gas, the petrochemical industry,” Ziyadov said.

The long view here is to establish manufacturing centers which are located closer to their destination markets, which can enhance the global supply chain by enabling materials and products to be produced and shipped faster. So rather than making everything in East or South Asia and shipping it all the way west to Europe, a higher portion of global production will be spread across the new logistics and manufacturing hubs that are emerging throughout Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe.

Few places in the world are located nearer to more extensive and diverse markets than Azerbaijan. The country sits at the center of the Eurasian landmass, a geographic expanse that contains 70% of the world’s population, 75% of energy resources, and 70% of GDP. Central Asia and China are to the east, Turkey and Europe are to the west, Russia is to the north, and Iran and the Middle East are to the south. On the map of Eurasia, Azerbaijan is ground zero.

In addition to a new transportation economy, Azerbaijan’s non-oil ambitions involve establishing itself as a cultural hub — a crossroads not only for goods and commodities but people and cultures as well.

2016 was officially deemed to be Azerbaijan’s “year of multiculturalism,” which further enhanced the nation’s proclivity for hosting major regional and global events. In 2012, Azerbaijan was the site of the Eurovision singing competition as well as the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2015, the European Games were played there in 2016, Baku saw a European Grand Prix Formula One race tear through its streets as well as the 42nd Chess Olympiad and in a few years the city will be one of the hosts of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament. The real prize for Azerbaijan, however, is to host the Summer Olympics, for which it is a perpetual bidder (and has gone as far as preemptively constructing an entire Olympic village and several stadiums).

Azerbaijan is also investing heavily into its tourism sector, which it sees as a source of untapped potential. This includes plans to reform and streamline its current tedious, restrictive, and costly visa regime, which is a major deterrent for potential tourists who could otherwise just go to neighboring Georgia or Armenia visa-free.

However, energy exports still account for roughly three-quarters of Azerbaijan’s government revenue, and the country is still very much dependent on the oil that sits beneath its surface. When oil prices began their free fall in 2014, so too did Azerbaijan’s economy. This loss of revenue not only made a big dent in the national coffers but also sent the manat, Azerbaijan’s currency, plunging — just as it had in Kazakhstan and Russia. Last December, Azerbaijan's Central Bank announced that it would stop propping up the manat, and it subsequently lost a third of its value within a month and continued dribbling downward to today's rate of 1.75 to the dollar — less than half of its early-2015 pegging.

This economic downturn created a new urgency for Azerbaijan to use what oil revenue it's still generating to speed up its economic diversification program.

“Developing oil rich countries have their own specific challenges that they face,” Ziyadov explained. “When the oil price is up, it's fine. When it's down, it's actually a good time to reform, to look at the issues that you once didn't pay much attention to. So I'm glad that we had certain work done when the oil price was up."

History of CJSC Azerbaijan Airlines

Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) is a major air carrier and one of the leaders of the aviation community of the CIS countries. Total route network of the airline is 40 destinations in 25 countries. In 2016, Azerbaijan Airlines carried over 2 million passengers.

Aircrafts of Azerbaijani civil aviation fully meets the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and AZAL is a member of the most prestigious civil aviation association - the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

AZAL has one of the newest airplane fleet that consists of 23 airplanes.

AZAL headquarters is in Baku, at Heydar Aliyev International Airport that meets international standards.

The history of the airline and CJSC Azerbaijan Airlines

In April 1992, after gaining independence, a state aviation body - State Concern Azerbaijan Airlines (Azərbaycan Hava Yolları) was established in Azerbaijan by the decision of the government of the Republic.

In 1996, Azeraeronavigation Air Traffic Control Center was established as part of the Azerbaijan Airlines State Concern.

In 1997, AZALOIL was established as part of Azerbaijan Airlines.

In 1999, a new international terminal was opened at the Baku airport.

In 2000, Azerbaijan Airlines received the first Boeing 757-200 aircrafts.

In 2004, by the decision of President Ilham Aliyev, "Bina" Airport in Baku was named "Heydar Aliyev International Airport".

In 2004, the airport in the city of Nakhchivan received the status of international air hub.

In 2005, a new cargo terminal (Baku Cargo Terminal) was opened at Heydar Aliyev International Airport.

In 2006, Ganja International Airport was reconstructed.

In April 2008, by the order of the Azerbaijani President, AZAL state concern was reorganized into CJSC Azerbaijan Airlines.

In 2009, airports in Zagatala and Lankaran received international status after major reconstruction.

In 2011 Azerbaijan Airlines received the European service standard from the European Economic Chamber of Trade, Commerce and Industry (EEIG).

In 2011, Azerbaijan Airlines received Boeing 767-300ER aircrafts.

In 2012, an international airport was built in Gabala.

In 2013, Azerbaijan Airlines received Airbus A340-500 long-haul passenger aircrafts.

In 2013, "Azalagro" airline company was opened in Yevlakh.

In 2014 the new airport terminal of Heydar Aliyev International Airport (Terminal 1) was put into operation.

In 2014, the fleet of Azerbaijan Airlines replenished with modern Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircrafts.

In 2014, Azerbaijan Airlines received jet planes from the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer 190 and Embraer 170.

In 2014, Azerbaijan Airlines began to carry out regular transatlantic flights from Baku to New York.

In 2015, British consulting company Skytrax, the world-famous and most influential in assessing the quality of airline services, awarded Azerbaijani national carrier and Heydar Aliyev International Airport a prestigious "4 stars" rating.

In 2016, Azerbaijan signed the Open Skies agreement with the United States of America.

In 2016, Nakhchivan International Airport was reconstructed. Telescopic passenger boarding bridges appeared at the airport for the first time.

In 2016 CJSC AZAL formed Azerbaijan&rsquos first lowcost airline - Buta Airways.

In 2017 Skytrax named the Heydar Aliyev International Airport the best among all airports in Russia and CIS countries.

Azerbaijan Transportation - History

Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. /VCG

Editor's Note: Seymur Mammadov is the director of the international expert club EurAsiaAz and editor-in-chief of Azerbaijan news agency The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Azerbaijan, located in the center of the so-called medium transport corridor between China and Europe, remains a reliable transit partner for China. Continuing successful business cooperation will serve to deepen trade and economic ties between the two countries.

One example of such cooperation is the launch on September 10, 2020, of a new China-Europe container train route, linking the Chinese city of Jinhua with Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan.

In the coming days, a freight train is to arrive in Baku. It is assumed that the transportation time on this route will be 15-18 days, which is about one third faster than with a combined mode of transportation using sea and rail transport.

The train will carry 100 twenty-foot items of merchandise, including power tools, apparatus and household items.

Another example of fruitful cooperation between China and Azerbaijan under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the launch on 20 June 2020 of a freight train of 43 wagons from China to Istanbul via Azerbaijan. The cargo was received at the port of Baku and delivered to Turkey by the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.

Thanks to the operating platform of the Xi'an Free Trade Port, goods from China to Turkey are constantly delivered through the territory of Azerbaijan. In July 2019, the second block train on the Xi'an-Baku route arrived from China to Azerbaijan.

In fact, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway has become an important element for the transportation of Chinese goods to Europe. Cooperation between Azerbaijan and China within the framework of the BRI, as we see, is expanding and Azerbaijan is gradually becoming a full-fledged participant in the Chinese mega-project.

All these facts indicate that China attaches great importance and assigns a significant role to Azerbaijan within the framework of BRI. Azerbaijan has never concealed its desire to become a full-fledged participant in the BRI.

Because Azerbaijan, located on the historical Silk Road, being a space where various civilizations merged, wants to take on the role of a transport and logistics hub between Europe and Asia.

Azerbaijan took this path for a long time and, as a result, achieved noticeable results. The Azerbaijani government has invested heavily in the development of its railways, seaports, highways and logistics centers from the Caspian Sea to the West as part of its own economic diversification strategy. The Baku cargo terminal, the port of Baku, modern cargo ships on the Caspian Sea and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway are Azerbaijan's valuable contributions to the East-West transport corridor.

The Heydar Aliyev Center is lit up with the image of the Chinese national flag to support China's efforts in fighting against the COVID-19 outbreak, Baku, Azerbaijan, April 3, 2020. /Xinhua

The significance of the Azerbaijani factor within the framework of this corridor and the BRI has increased since October 2017 – after the launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which turned the Trans-Caspian international transport route into a priority vector for China's transportation of goods to Europe.

The shortest rail route for the delivery of goods from China to Europe runs through Azerbaijan. At the same time, it is the least costly transit route for China and has a number of advantages over other transcontinental transport corridors in terms of existing infrastructure and proximity to Europe.

At present, the Azerbaijani side makes extensive use of the potential of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway with Russia and Kazakhstan. There is a discussion on the possibility of using this road by Uzbekistan. Azerbaijan is actively cooperating in the European space, the use of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway by some European countries has already become a reality.

China, interested in diversifying the routes of cargo delivery to Europe, can become a full-fledged participant in the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project. And Azerbaijan, in turn, could act as an exemplary partner of China in the construction of the "Silk Road Economic Belt".

First, the Caspian coast, where Azerbaijan is located, is turning into a new single economic space where the interests of Russia, East Asia and Europe are intertwined. Azerbaijan is becoming a new point of the economic ring connecting Europe with Asia.

Secondly, throughout its history, Azerbaijan has played an important role in the development of the Silk Road, in particular, in the Caucasus, connecting Central Asia with Anatolia, the Black Sea and the West.

Azerbaijan has been the main stage in the connection of civilizations since ancient times, uniting merchants who arrived by land and sea routes. This significantly influenced the formation of the most important center of exchange not only for goods, but for ideas and traditions, religions and cultures.

Thirdly, Azerbaijan has similarities with China in terms of economic development as a priority, implementation of a peaceful foreign policy, striving for political stability, adherence to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. All of these above factors contribute to mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

If China actively uses the economically and geographically advantageous transport corridor passing through Azerbaijan, this will further strengthen the trade and economic ties between Baku and Beijing.

In this case, there is a high probability of concluding bilateral agreements on trade and investment, which will create favorable conditions for the growth of private Chinese investments in various sectors of the Azerbaijani economy.

Azerbaijan has high hopes with China that Beijing will be actively involved in the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway corridor. Because the development of this corridor is fully possible only with China's commitment to this project. Without participation and investment from China, it will be practically impossible to fully realize the potential of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars.

Undoubtedly, such international transport projects as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and other new projects will play an important role in the integration of Europe and Asia, contribute to the further development of the Eurasian continent, increase trade turnover and benefit the respective countries and regions. One of the key roles in the implementation of such new projects will, of course, be assigned to China.

Azerbaijan Transportation - History

      Figure 10. Transportation System of Azerbaijan, 1994

    Azerbaijan's transportation system is extensive for a country of its size and level of economic development. Analysts attribute this advantage to the fact that when Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union, its economy was heavily geared to export of petroleum and to transshipment of goods across the Caucasus. The system is burdened by an extensive bureaucracy, however, that makes prompt equipment repair difficult, and the country's economic problems have delayed replacement of aging equipment and facilities.

    In 1990 Azerbaijan had 36,700 kilometers of roads, 31,800 kilometers of which were paved. One of the country's two main routes parallels the Caspian Sea coast from Russia to Iran, passing through Baku (see fig. 10). The other, Route M27, leads west out of the capital to the Georgian border. A major branch from this route heads south through Stepanakert, capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. All major towns have a paved road connection with one of the principal routes. An extensive intercity bus service is the primary mode of intercity travel. Maintenance of the system has deteriorated since independence in 1991, however, and one study estimated that 60 percent of the main highways were in bad condition, resulting in excessive wear on vehicles and tires and in poor fuel consumption.

    Azerbaijan had 2,090 kilometers of rail lines in 1990, excluding several small industrial lines. Most lines are 1.520- meter broad gauge, and the principal routes are electrified. In the 1990s, the rail system carried the vast majority of the country's freight. As with the highway system, one of the two main lines parallels the Caspian Sea coast from Russia to Iran before heading west to Turkey, and the other closely parallels Route M27 from Baku to the Georgian border. A major spur also parallels the highway to Stepanakert. Another smaller rail line begins just west of Baku and hugs the Iranian border to provide the only rail link to Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, isolated southwest of Armenia. Passenger service from Baku to Erevan has been suspended, and service from Baku to Tbilisi has sometimes been disrupted because of the NagornoKarabakh conflict. In 1994 passenger service from Baku to Iran also was halted. Trains making the forty-three-hour trip to Moscow, however, still operate three times daily. The government estimates that 700 kilometers, or about one-third, of the rail system are in such poor condition that reconstruction is necessary. Much of the system has speed restrictions because of the poor conditions of the rails.

    Baku has a modest subway system with twenty-nine kilometers of heavy-rail lines. The system has eighteen stations and is arranged in two lines that cross in the center of the city. Another seventeen kilometers, under construction in 1994, would add twelve more stations to the system.

    In 1992 Azerbaijan had twenty-six airfields with paved surfaces. Baku International Airport, twenty-eight kilometers southwest of the city, is the country's principal airport. The number of international air passengers is higher in Azerbaijan than in Armenia and Georgia, with most air traffic moving between Baku and cities in the former Soviet Union. Besides flights to Russia, Azerbaijan Airlines provides service to Turkey and Iran, and direct flights on foreign carriers are available to Pakistan and Tajikistan.

    Although situated at an excellent natural harbor, Baku has not developed into a major international port because of its location on the landlocked Caspian Sea. The port serves mostly as a transshipment point for goods (primarily petroleum products and lumber) crossing the Caspian Sea and destined for places to the west, or for passenger service to ports on the eastern or southern shores of the Caspian Sea. The port has seventeen berths, of which five are dedicated for transport of crude oil and petroleum products, two are used for passengers, and the remaining ten handle timber or other cargo. The port can accommodate ships up to 12,000 tons, and its facilities include portal cranes, tugboats, and equipment for handling petroleum and petroleum products. The port area has 10,000 square meters of covered storage and 28,700 square meters of open storage.

    Baku is the center of a major oil- and gas-producing region, and major long-distance pipelines radiate from the region's oil fields to all neighboring areas. Pipelines are generally highcapacity lines and have diameters of either 1,020 or 1,220 millimeters. The main petroleum pipeline pumps crude oil from the onshore and offshore Caspian fields near Baku west across Azerbaijan and Georgia to the port of Batumi. There, the oil is either exported in its crude form or processed at Batumi's refinery. Two natural gas lines parallel the petroleum line as far as Tbilisi, where they turn north across the Caucasus Mountains to join the grid of natural gas pipelines that supply cities throughout Russia and Eastern Europe. A spur extends off these main gas pipelines in western Azerbaijan to deliver gas to Nakhichevan. This spur crosses Armenian territory, however, and in 1994 its status was unclear. Altogether, in 1994 Azerbaijan had 1,130 kilometers of crude oil pipeline, 630 kilometers of pipeline for petroleum products, and 1,240 kilometers of natural gas pipeline.

    In 1991 some 644,000 telephone lines were in operation, providing nine telephones per 100 persons. At that time, another 200,000 Azerbaijanis were on waiting lists for telephone installation. Azerbaijan's telephone system was connected with other CIS republics by cable and microwave, but connections to non-CIS countries went through Moscow. In 1992 Turkey provided support for installation of an International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) satellite station in Baku, providing access to 200 countries through Turkey. Azerbaijan receives Turkish and Iranian television programming by satellite, and domestic and Russian broadcasts are received locally.

    Please put this page in your BOOKMARKS - - - - -

    Revised 10-Nov-04
    Copyright © 2004-2020 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)

    Food, Restaurants, and Grocery Shopping in Baku

    I could write a lot about this as I ate out nearly every single day after I gave myself a nice, mild case of food poisoning from my own cooking. But, here are the basics. I may expand this into an entire post in the future.

    Can You Drink the Tap Water in Baku?

    Um… maybe? I drank the tap water in Baku daily and had no issues. But I was staying somewhere clean in an affluent part of the city.

    Generally speaking, it is advised to purchase bottled water when in Baku and the rest of Azerbaijan. But I don’t believe in plastic.

    I highly recommend taking your own water bottle with you to Azerbaijan and using one that has a built-in filter. This post will show you which water bottle with a filter is best for traveling.

    Grocery Shopping

    To be honest, I generally like buying my produce at market stalls. This trip, however, I had to resort to getting them at a hypermarket for convenience purposes (and lack of market stalls around where I was staying). I also needed to buy flip-flops, hence the convenience purposes.

    I went across the city by bus to Bravo Hypermarket, which was massive and had everything I needed. It was slightly pricey as they were selling a lot of Waitrose branded products, but the local ingredients like the produce were extremely affordable. I bought a kilo of tomatoes, a lot of onions, zucchini, peppers, etc.

    Some other prevalent shops in Baku are Fresco, Spar, Araz, and Neptun. I also went to Continental a few times as I had to use up my tomatoes very last minute and made salsa and needed tortilla chips (Continental sold a lot of products from Edeka in Germany, including salted tortilla chips).

    Do be wary about indulging too fast into one thing. I made like four eggs one day in an omelet that looked like cat vomit the end and I made myself super sick from the number of eggs.

    I think my body wasn’t used to the Azeri eggs quite yet and I struggled as a result. The eggs are great quality… it was just my body I think (and probably being used to lousy quality ingredients in Western Europe).

    Restaurants in Baku

    I have found the restaurants serving traditional Azeri cuisine to all be more or less the same. The menus look the same (and offer a bajillion items) and the restaurants in Baku all tend to be underground and the areas are broken up into little cave-like sections.

    Azeri food is kind of like a lot of different foods I have tasted before, albeit with more oil and sometimes with less flavor (depending on the dish).

    They love herb usage, so if you are allergic to dill, mint, or coriander (cilantro), do make note of that beforehand.

    Usually, the servers are all male at these restaurants, which was one of the first things I noticed. I have had some servers that were standoffish and some that were extremely friendly. You can usually pay with Visa or Mastercard, but do check beforehand.

    You can not add a tip to the card, however, so have cash if you want to add more than the usually already added service charge.

    While my opinion on the cuisine is that it was a little flavorless, do take into consideration that I have a lot of experience traveling in post-Soviet countries and Azeri cuisine is kind of a mishmash of different Soviet dishes and middle eastern dishes.

    So, if I had plov in Baku, I didn’t prefer it to Uzbek plov, etc. But, most people I know quite liked the cuisine in Azerbaijan.

    And, to be honest, the food is one of the best reasons to visit Azerbaijan even if I didn’t love every single dish I had when there.

    Common Ingredients in Azerbaijani Cooking

    The ingredients you’ll find in Azeri cooking are similar to that of what you’ll find in many of the other Caucasus countries.

    Mutton, Chicken, Fish, cherries, quince, bell peppers, sumac (my favorite spice), tomato, apples, pomegranate, plum, apricot, eggplant, super delicious bread… just to name a few.

    If you have food allergies and plan to visit Baku, do get translations of exactly what your allergy is in Russian and Azerbaijani and show it to the servers. I asked for ‘no dill’ a few times in multiple languages and was still served it.

    Tipping in Azerbaijan

    This is very dependent on where you are and what your bill is. I tend to always tip at least 10-15% because the American in me will have an anxiety attack and be unable to sleep if I don’t.

    However, if the service is bad, I don’t care one way or another. In Baku, especially at the more ‘touristy’ restaurants, they will often add a service charge to your check.

    They did this with me 9 times out of 10. It was usually such a meager amount that I still left a couple of manats, especially when service was exceptional. My service was usually either horrendous or stellar. There was never an in-between.

    Markets in Baku

    There are many markets in Baku that you can head to for delicious and local produce. While none were in close proximity to where I was staying, with a little effort, I could have located them.

    The Metro station (Sahil) was closed down while I was in Baku, so nothing was super convenient for me. Ask the place you’re staying for the nearest market to you and take advantage of the tasty produce that Azerbaijan has to offer!

    Beer in Azerbaijan

    As a beer lover, I was hoping to find at least one craft beer bar with local brews. I didn’t find that. But that is okay as I really enjoyed the mass-produced Xirdalan.

    Sometimes it is nice to have a cheap beer that is just easy to drink. Many people I met said that they are expecting some craft beer in the near future, however.

    There is one bar called Beerbasha that serves microbrewed beer. I was on my way to head there with a friend, but I was told that it is all men there and it is extremely luxurious and upscale.

    In my mind, that means pretentious. I am not really into those kinds of places, so I passed and went to Pivnaya Apteka instead. It was okay… still a bit too upscale for my tastes and the beer selection was a bit lackluster.

    Okay, so don’t visit Baku for beer… but it exists if you’re open to mediocre beer. Thankfully, the wine is pretty decent!

    Wine in Azerbaijan

    Yes, there is wine in Azerbaijan. And while it may not be as recognizable as Georgia or Armenia’s wine scene, it is still good and actually quite big.

    There are wine bars in Baku where you can enjoy a wine tasting and you can buy a glass of the stuff almost anywhere.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of pomegranate wine as it was too rich for me, but I loved a glass of dry red from Gabala. The best part about this bottle of wine?

    It was only about $1.80. I bought a bottle of this frequently when there. Probably too frequently as the shop workers in the market I used to go to knew to have a bottle behind the cashier for me ready to go.

    Bp in Azerbaijan

    A number of bp legal entities have registered representative offices in Azerbaijan reflecting the evolution of bp’s presence in the country and the region since bp opened its first office in Baku in 1992. The principal legal entity is BP Exploration (Caspian Sea) Limited.

    The AGT regional leadership team led by the regional president consists of 11 vice presidents, the chief procurement officer, the managing counsel.

    TRANSPORTATION: Sangachal terminal – an oil and gas processing terminal south of Baku. Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) – a 1,768km oil pipeline (443km in Azerbaijan) linking Sangachal terminal to Ceyhan marine terminal in Turkey. South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) – a 691km gas pipeline (443km in Azerbaijan) between Sangachal terminal and the Georgia-Turkey border. Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP) – a 829km pipeline (456km in Azerbaijan) linking Sangachal terminal to Supsa on Georgia’s Black Sea coast.

    CAPACITY: BTC – 1.2 million barrels per day SCP – 72.2 million standard cubic metres (mmscm) per day WREP – 106 thousand barrels per day. Sangachal terminal –1.2 million barrels (about 164,000 tonnes) of oil per day and 105 mmscm of gas per day. Crude oil storage capacity of 3.2 million barrels (450,000 tonnes).

    We aspire to be a valued, trusted and long-term partner in the development of Azerbaijan’s hydrocarbon resources

    bp first arrived in Azerbaijan and opened its first office in Baku in June 1992. Over the past years, in partnership with the Government of Azerbaijan and our co-venturers, bp-operated world-class projects – Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG), Shah Deniz, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) – have contributed to the development of the Caspian Sea as a modern hydrocarbon province. These have been remarkable years accompanied by numerous unique and significant milestones based on safe, responsible and efficient operations. We as the operator of the above-mentioned projects, and our co-venturers are proud of the multitude of great achievements and successes of the past months and years along the delivery journey.

    $78.5 billion Capital expenditure on the ACG, BTC, Shah Deniz and SCP projects since the beginning of operations in 1995

    All these successes stem from the excellent partnership we have built here and our long-term commitment to the country as a reliable partner. This commitment has:

    • contributed to a strong and growing economy
    • provided a substantial new revenue stream for the state of Azerbaijan that underpins the amazing economic growth
    • made a major contribution to the new commercial links that the county is building with the rest of the world
    • has driven a revitalised modern technology based offshore hydrocarbon production sector
    • has created one of the world’s most modern oil and gas processing plants and world-class construction and fabrication facilities
    • has contributed to social development by creating tens of thousands of job opportunities
    • has supported capacity-building, training, educational development and a generally enhanced national capability and skill base
    • has fostered sustainable development in hundreds of rural communities
    • has supported development of cultural heritage and sport.

    We take great pride in our presence in the region and as a reliable long term partner we will continue to safely and efficiently operate ACG, Shah Deniz 1 and 2, new development and exploration projects, creating new local jobs and new opportunities for social development.

    >3.9 billion Barrels of oil were produced by ACG from first oil in 1997 to the end of the first quarter of 2021
    140 billion
    Cubic metres of total gas were produced by Shah Deniz from first gas in 2006 to the end of the first quarter of 2021

    We remain committed to Azerbaijan’s future helping the country maintain its role as one of the world’s major energy suppliers and create cleaner energy links with Europe.

    We will build on this unique experience and knowledge to successfully deliver new projects in this basin – ACG’s further development, SWAP, Shafag-Asiman, D230 and other potential projects. With our track record of successful delivery as the leading operator in the Caspian, we are uniquely positioned to develop these world-class projects safely, reliably and efficiently.

    Watch the video: Bergkarabach: Gründe für den Konflikt zwischen Aserbaidschan und Armenien. ARTE


  1. Alec

    I absolutely disagree with the previous sentence

  2. Sullimn

    the Authoritarian answer, oddly ...

  3. Mikashura

    I believe that you are wrong. Email me at PM, we'll talk.

  4. Gosar

    Quite, yes

  5. Avidan

    Excuse for that I interfere... To me this situation is familiar. Let's discuss.

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