Saturday, June 10 2017 11:58
Alexandr Avanesov

Another real project for Armenia`s transition into transit state seems to be doomed to failure

Another real project for Armenia`s transition into transit state seems to be doomed to failure

ArmInfo. Another real project to turn Armenia into a transit state seems to be doomed to failure. The heads of the railways of Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia signed an agreement in Tbilisi on how to activate the route connecting the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea, Mehr News reports. The agreement was signed after the talks between the managing director of the Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran (RAI) Said Mohammadzadeh and his Georgian and Azerbaijani counterparts Mamuka Bakhtadze and Ganbar Javid Gurbanov.

At the session, which was held at the initiative of the Iranian embassy in Georgia, the sides stressed the need for cooperation in implementing joint plans of the three countries, as well as the earliest initiation of the creation of this route. The representative of Iran stressed the need for a coordinated and planned exploitation of the capabilities of the three countries in order to activate the way from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, as well as the need to expand the infrastructure at later stages of the international project. He also stressed that this way will benefit not only the three member countries, but also all states on the route, as this reduces costs and speeds up the transportation of goods. This route, first of all, is aimed at transporting goods by rail from Europe to the Persian Gulf, and then to India. The Black Sea is one of the most strategically important water areas in the world, which has water borders with Russia, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Georgia. The creation of a transit route from the Black Sea to Iran, and then to the Persian Gulf can lead to a huge development of international and transcontinental trade and economic cooperation.

According to Armenian experts, a high roadblock is one of the factors hampering Armenia's transit prospects. A travel fee is a mandatory payment made to the state budget in the manner and amounts established by the law "On Road Payments". These payments are necessary for the purpose of forming the funds necessary for the organization and implementation of works on the construction, repair and maintenance of the public highways of the Republic of Armenia. However, an unreasonably high fee repels transport companies. For example, cars from Iran are forced to pay about $ 300 to enter Armenia. In return for these payments, the Armenian side does not provide either high-quality road infrastructure or the proper quality of related services. Particularly sad is the situation in comparison with neighboring countries. When you enter Georgia, you need to pay $ 80 at a time, and that's it. In the case of Azerbaijan, we see a system that can be transformed in response to challenges. The absurdity of the situation goes so far that drivers prefer a longer way, since the costs of traveling through Armenia do not pay off. An absurd situation: a truck from Iran makes a large circle through Turkey and ships goods to Tbilisi, but it should not be through Armenia, because it is unprofitable.

Earlier, Iran suggested that the countries of the region build a corridor between the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea. Head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Mohammad Javad Zarif at a press conference in Tbilisi said that "in the case of a corridor between the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea, great opportunities will open up." He specifically noted that "the price of transportation will be very low."

November 23, 2016 Iran on the territory of Armenia received the first cargo on a new transit corridor from Europe. The first cargo arrived in Iran from Germany through a new multimodal transit route connecting Iran and Europe via the Black Sea, the secretary of the International Transport Association of Iran, Gholamhossein Amiri, said. In the long term it was planned that this route will be replace one that passes through the territory of Turkey. "Two cargo containers arrived in Iran across the Armenian border," Amiri specified. "Containers were shipped from Hamburg on a relatively short track, compared to the Turkish route," the official said. "In the past couple of years, we had problems on the Turkish border with regard to the carriage of goods from Europe, which prompted us to begin negotiations with several other countries for alternative routes," Gholamhossein Amiri told. Tehran and Ankara have long been leading a transit dispute stemming from different fuel prices in two neighboring countries. In addition, the common border was often the scene of traffic jams for transit trucks. The queue at the border often reaches 15 kilometers.  Agreements signed by officials of the customs authorities of neighboring countries, and could not solve this problem. Transit security is another issue that prevents the transport of goods through Turkey. On the territory of Turkey, several Iranian trucks were the victims of arson, in which Ankara accuses the armed units that are part of the Kurdish Labor Party. The Iranian government demanded guarantees from Ankara for the safety of Iranian trucks, but the results were unsatisfactory, which led to a lack of confidence in Turkey's ability to stop violence.

As a result, the Ministry of Road and Urban Development of Iran advised transport land companies to avoid routes passing through the territory of Turkey. The ministry advised truck drivers to use two alternative routes: one through Azerbaijan, Russia and Belarus, and the other via Armenia, Georgia, the Black Sea, and then through Romania or Bulgaria. "The cost of cargo transportation through the new route through Armenia was lower by 1-2% compared to the Turkish route," Amiri said. The last negotiations with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Italy and Greece were concentrated around the transit corridor with the participation of these countries. Apparently, the cost of transportation offered by Azerbaijan turned out to be lower than the cost of transportation from Europe to Iran. Thus, it can be stated that the negotiations ended in favor of Armenia. The desire of the Armenian authorities to replenish the revenue part of the state budget at any cost appeared to be higher than the expected prospects.

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