On the photo: (right to left) Ambassador  Atageldi Haljanov, Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the UN in Geneva , Dr Igor Runov, Executive Secretary of ICTD

The round table “Transport and connectivity potential of the Caspian Sea region: Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan – the shortest route” was organised on the margins of the 82nd Session of the UNECE Inland Transport Commitee and attracted over 100 diplomatic and industry representatives from Europe,  Asia and many international organizations 

In her opening remarks H.E. Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE, praised the co-organisers of the Round table, governments of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, for their initiative to organize the roundtable and for their efforts to facilitate trade and transit along the central t route of the ancient Silk Road. 

Follow up discussion touched upon a number of critical issues related to latest developments in creation of hard and soft infrastructure as well as remaining problems which do not allow  to fully exploit the potential of this shortest route from China to Europe. 

Azerbaijan Ambassador to the UN Mr Sadiqov and Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and Technology of Azerbaijan Mr Valizadeh provided a detailed overview of large scale  investments in the transport infrastructure of Azerbaijan, in particular, modernization of port Alyat (Azerbaijan) , railway Baku- Tbilisi- Kars (BTK), development of North-South Corridor, airport modernization, oil and gas pipelines.

In his background presentation Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the UN Mr Haljanov underlined the importance attributed by the government of his country to creation of first class basic and supplementary transport infrastructure incl  marine ( Port of Turkmenbashi- 17 mln t annual capacity), Road ( Highway- Ashkhabad- Turkmenbashi and eastwards to Turkmenabad). In this context, the importance of maintaining of friendly and cooperative relationships with its neighbors was emphasized – on bilateral, regional and global basis. 

Recent creation  of Black Sea-Caspian Sea Transport Route from Turkmenistan to Romania (port of Constanta) provide an excellent example of synergizing global vision and regional approach. As reflected in the agreement signed by ministers of foreign affairs of 4 countries, “the parties agreed to implement practical steps to promote jointly the BSCS international transportation route with other interested states and international organizations, notably with the EU for further development of relevant infrastructure and attraction of additional cargo flows and … to encourage the use of digital technologies for simplification of export and import procedures”.

This regional initiative seems to be fully in line with the Europen Union long term vision and attitudes towards euroasian transport linkages reflected in the Joint Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank “Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy”. In his detailed address  Mr Stefano Paci, representative of the European Union, underlined a special role of Caspian Sea in maintaining euroasian multimodal connectivity on principles of sustainability, comprehensiveness and rule of law. An important role of Eastern Partnership was underlined in this context , including in promoting “ soft  measures”.

The latest developments in implementation of the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) Initiative were presented by Ambassador of China to the UN in Geneva Mr Xu Chen who confirmed China’s commitment to this mega project, underlying, in particular, the importance of ongoing policy coordination in the area of technical standards, safety and customs efficiency. The importance of the upcoming 2 UN Conference on sustainable transport in Beijing in early May was mentioned as the main Silk Road global event in 2020.

Finally, the views of the road transport sector towards development of the Caspian Sea – Black Sea route were  reflected in the presentation of Mr Umberto de Pretto, Secretary General of IRU. He started his presentation with words of appreciation of UN ECE for the interest and support of Road transport industry and , in particular, congratulated everybody with recent long awaited adoption of e-TIR- the digital version of well known “ TIR carnets” – providing invaluable assistance to international haulers for over sixty years. Many other UN Conventions , according to Mr De Pretto, are still awaiting for many countries, especially landlocked, to fully appreciate their importance and join them. 

Summarizing the discussion, the moderator Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Secretary,  thanked panelists and participants for excellent presentations and productive  exchange of views. Representing the shortest way from China to EU, the central route of the ancient Silk Road , nevertheless, have been facing many challenges in attracting commercial transport and tourism – due to multiple border crossings, need for multimodal transport, lack of sufficient basic infrastructure. Due to massive investments n the 5-10 years the situation is currently changing fast to the better and the focus is now changing from “ hard “ to “ soft» infrastructure- reducing cross border barriers, harmonizing legislation and introducing modern IT. 

UN has contributed a lot to this process by adopting at the highest level of 4 Resolutions of UN General Assembly on sustainable transport and transport corridors. Several positive developments currently happening at regional and sectoral level ( adoption of e-TIR, simplification of legal regime in railways). But there is obvious and urgent need for bold  moves and innovative approaches- similar to recent initiative to develop multimodal and fully digital Global Transit Document(GTrD)., announced recently by TRACECA and her partners.  Once developed and tested along Black Sea-Caspian Sea transporte Route it could be later extended to other sections of the Silk Road and introduced worldwide , servicing other sections of the global supply chains. 

On February 26, 2020 at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the 82nd session of the Inland Transport Committee (ITC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), initiated by the Permanent Mission of Turkmenistan to the UN Geneva Office, together with The UNECE and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UN Geneva Office, organized a round table on the theme “Transport and connectivity potential of the Caspian Sea region: Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan – the shortest route”.

Keynote speakers were Ms. O. Algaerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE; Mr. Umberto de Pretto, Secretary General of the International Road Transport Union; Mr. Tadeusz Josda, Chairman of the OSJD Committee; Mr. I. Runov, Executive Secretary of the International Center for Transport Diplomacy (as moderator); Mr. E. Valizadeh, Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Mr. Hu Chen, Permanent Representative of the PRC to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Mr. Stefano Paci, Deputy Head of the International Relations Division of the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission (from Brussels) and a number of heads of country missions at the ambassadorial level (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and representatives of other international organizations).

One of the goals of the event is the presentation of Turkmenistan’s transport capabilities, infrastructure policies and state achievements under the leadership of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in the context of the development of international cooperation between the countries, a vision on further prospects of transport routes and views on the main aspects raised in UNGA resolution A / RES / 72/212 “Strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.

During the meeting, the Turkmen side announced the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan this year and emphasized the special importance of the neutrality of Turkmenistan, recognized at the regional and world levels, which is a solid foundation of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy.

At the end of the round table, the Permanent Mission of Turkmenistan organized a photo exhibition, including the country’s achievements in the field of transport (railway, road, air and sea communications) over 25 years of acquiring the status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan.

Following brief but very  productive trip to Azerbaijan, Road Transport delegation, cochaired by ICTD, arrived on February 6, 2020 to the capital of Georgia. During high level meetings in Tbilisi with government officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Ministry of finance, National Academy of Sciences the discussion focused on the means to improve commercial traffic along Caspian-Black Sea Transit route through harmonization of trans border procedures, creation of single transit document for all modes of transport, education and training of government and business  officials. Dr Igor Runov emphasized , in particular, the important role of recently created Black Sea – Caspian Sea Transport Route with participation of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Turkmenistan, which is expected in the near future to become the fastest and shortest way between China and Europe/Turkey

On the photo: (right to left) Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman, International Road Council; Dr Igor Runov, Executive Secretary, Mr Teimuraz Janjalia, Head, Department of International  economic relations, Ministry of  Forein affaires, Mr Giorgi Meskheli ,Deputy Director, International Economic Relations Department

Distant learning courses of transport diplomacy created a lot of interest among our old and new partners in the Central Caucasus and Russia. In Tbilisi (Georgia)  a special protocol was signed with National Academy of Sciences in order to develop new conceptual approaches towards facilitation of multimodal transport  in Eurasia. In Moscow ( Russia) ICTD signed a cooperation agreement with International Association for Automative and Road Engineering Education ( AAREE) with over 150 Universities and colleges from the former USSR and Eurrasia.

On the photo: (right to left) Dr Valentin Siliyanov, President of AAREE, Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman, International Road Council, Dr Igor Runov, Executive Director

On the photo: (left to right) Dr Igor Runov , Secretary General , ICTD; Mr Aset Asavbayev , SecretaryGeneral, PS IGC TRACECA; Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman, Intergovernmental Road Council

On the photo: (left to right) Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Secretary, Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman of International Council of Road Administrations (ICRA)

On December 6, 2019 in New York ICTD signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Chairman of International Council of Road Administrations (ICRA) establishing framework for cooperation between two organizations in development and facilitation of the road industry in the countries of former Soviet Union.

The Sides agreed in particular to cooperate in the area of human resources development through introduction of special training courses for private sector and civil servants including distance-learning programs.

Both organizations will also cooperate in organizing joint events, including upcoming ICRA Auto Caravan in Summer 2020, exchanging of information, joint participation in major international forums.

Left to right:

Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Secretary, 
Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman of International Council of Road Administrations (ICRA),
H.E. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, UN Under Secretary General, 

During the private sector Roundtable co-organized by ICTD, UN OHRLLS, ICC and ITC on the sidelines of the comprehensive High-Level Conference on Midterm Review of Vienna Program of Action for developing landlocked countries for 2014-2024 (VPoA), participants analyzed the progress in implementation of VPoA, and provided their vision for the next 5-year period.

H.E. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, UN Under Secretary General, chairing the meeting, emphasized the critical role of private sector in integrating LLDCs into the global economic and social processes and existing opportunities.

Dr. Igor Runov in his statement provided general outlook of the role of the transport sector in turning landlocked countries into land-linked countries, focusing, in particular, on the need to eliminate remaining administrative barriers in the global supply chains via introduction of a multimodal fully digital

Global Transit Document and development of human resources in transport related areas.

Strengthening the private sector role in the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action, VPoA Side Event.
Left to Right:
Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman of International Council of Road Administrations (ICRA),
Mr. Ashish Shah, Director for Country Programmes, International Trade Centre (ITC), 
Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Secretary, 
Mr. Ralph Pachalo Jooma, Minister of Transport and Public Works, Malawi
H.E. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, UN Under Secretary General,
Mr. Manqoba Bheki Khumalo, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Kingdom of Eswatini

On the photo: (left to right) Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Secretary, Mr Jeffrey Sachs, Director, UN Sustainable Solutions Center and Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University

A number of important bilateral meetings and consultations took place on the sidelines of the High Level Conference on the Midterm Review of Vienna Program of Action for developing landlocked countries for 2014-2024 (VPoA), focusing on different issues: from the role of transport diplomacy in global dialogue to elimination of administrative barriers in multilateral trade.

Left to right:
Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Secretary,
Mr Umberto de Pretto, IRU Secretary General

“After successful participation and presentation at the Council Meeting Meeting in Bratislava last June (https://ictd2030.org/index.php/2019/06/24/639/) our relationships with Intergovernmental Road Council (CMCD) went a long way. After the Council’s recommendation to its official and business members to consider implementation of ICTD educational programs a number of governments have already approached us with specific proposals which are currently being carefully considered.

Last week another meeting took place in Moscow between ICTD Executive Director Dr Igor Runov and Ms Goar Mirzayants, Deputy Head of CMCD Secretariat (http://cmcd.ru/), with a special focus on joint participation in the upcoming UN events in New York later this year and organizing educational – training programs for official and business executives from the CIS and Eurasia in the US.”


Left-to-Right: Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Director, Dr. Victor Dosenko, ITA President

Left-to-Right: Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Director, Dr. Victor Dosenko, ITA President

“After successful participation and presentation at the Council Meeting Meeting in Bratislava last June (https://ictd2030.org/index.php/2019/06/24/639/) our relationships with Intergovernmental Road Council (CMCD) went a long way. After the Council’s recommendation to its official and business members to consider implementation of ICTD educational programs a number of governments have already approached us with specific proposals which are currently being carefully considered.

Last week another meeting took place in Moscow between ICTD Executive Director Dr Igor Runov and Ms Goar Mirzayants, Deputy Head of CMCD Secretariat (http://cmcd.ru/), with a special focus on joint participation in the upcoming UN events in New York later this year and organizing educational – training programs for official and business executives from the CIS and Eurasia in the US.”