Perizat RISBEK KIZI
Today, the level of relations between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan is characterized by ever-increasing dynamics and a wide range of opportunities for further strengthening the bilateral relation in many key areas. One of these priority areas is the expansion of transport and communication links and cooperation in the oil and gas sector.
The emphasis on this issue, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, was made at the regular 11th meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Turkmen-Kazakh Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation, held on December 20. During the meeting, an extensive list of key vectors for the subsequent progress of the fruitful Turkmen-Kazakh partnership was considered. The result of this intergovernmental commission was the signing of the Resulting Protocol.
It is also worth emphasizing that during the Turkmen-Kazakh talks at the level of the heads of the two countries, which took place in Ashgabat on October 24-25, a list of important agreements was signed that are aimed to intensify effective partnership in many areas.
Moreover, in November, within the framework of the IV business forum of the ECO member states, a memorandum of understanding was signed on railway cooperation between Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Iran, which is aimed at increasing the load of the railway between the three countries.
Energy and transport sector as a key area of interstate relations
In recent years, there has been an intensification of Kazakh-Turkmen cooperation in the transportation and energy sectors, which, due to the geographical location and energy potential of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, is becoming one of the key areas of the interstate communication agenda.
According to Trend.az, Nur-Sultan and Ashgabat regularly discuss issues of partnership in the gas sector and the development of cross-border mineral deposits. In this sense, Kazakhstan is involved in a large project for the delivery of Central Asian gas to China. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has been receiving Turkmen fuel since 2009 through the territories of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are also working with Turkey and Azerbaijan to diversify Trans-Caspian routes. As a result of these efforts, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which runs through the Caucasus, was launched in 2017, an important component of the Middle Transport Corridor, which improves Eurasian connectivity and serves as a suitable gateway to Europe for landlocked Central Asia.
It should be noted that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have large reserves of hydrocarbon raw materials, but do not have direct access to world markets. Against this background, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are of mutual interest to each other as transit states for the withdrawal of their energy resources to foreign markets. Thus, we can speak of Kazakhstan’s interest in the withdrawal of Kazakh oil in a southern-western direction, especially towards the Persian Gulf. At the same time, the territory of Kazakhstan is a transit area for the transportation of Turkmen natural gas in the northern direction, i.e. towards Russia and further to Europe.
Increasing trade and economic cooperation
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have enormous potential for increasing trade turnover. Despite the quarantine measures and the current situation in the world, the level of trade between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan has maintained a steady growth – trade turnover in January-September 2021 increased by 43.6%, to $ 144 million. Also, for 10 months of 2021, the volume of cargo transportation with the participation of the railways of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, including transit to Afghanistan and Iran, exceeded 1 million tons.
Thus, it can be stated that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, while strengthening bilateral relations that are of mutual interest, strongly support initiatives aimed at further strengthening regional cooperation. In this regard, frequent Kazakh-Turkmen negotiations at the highest level become another contribution to the achievement of the common goal – the transformation of Central Asia into a prosperous region with a high degree of trade, economic and transport connectivity.