8 Jun 2023 20:12

North-South Corridor is potential competitor of Suez Canal - Russian PM

SOCHI. June 8 (Interfax) - The North-South Corridor will become a competitor of the Suez Canal, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said at a meeting with Azerbaijani Prime Minister Ali Asadov.

"We see transport and logistics taken together as a promising area. We can and should use Russia and Azerbaijan's advantageous geographical positions, and develop [our] transit potential more actively. I am referring to increasing the capacity of border crossings, [and] the development of rail, road and sea infrastructure as part of the international North-South Corridor, which I am certain will become a competitor of the Suez Canal in the future," Mishustin said.

According to expert calculations, the corridor will reduce the time needed to deliver cargo from the Baltic Sea to ports in the Persian Gulf to ten days, he said.

Mishustin said Russia is interested in strengthening its friendly partnership and alliance with Azerbaijan. He called for more active work at the governmental level to expand trade and economic cooperation. "We have a whole series of interesting areas. They are [in] energy, industry including shipbuilding, transport infrastructure, agriculture, IT, innovation, and many other areas," he said.

Trade turnover between Russia and Azerbaijan is increasing despite the difficult external economic situation and sanctions, he said. Data shows that the volume of mutual trade increased by one quarter to almost 300 billion rubles year-on-year, Mishustin said, adding that in January-April 2023 bilateral trade grew 21%, reaching 98 billion roubles.

Mishustin also noted cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian sphere, and said Azerbaijan had been invited to the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum as a guest.

Russia "attaches special significance to unblocking economic and transport links in the South Caucasus," Mishustin said. "We are interested in peace, stability and the prosperity of our common region," he said, recalling that the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia had already discussed this issue on May 25. "We are convinced that the creation of new routes is in the interests of all states in the region," he said.

Asadov, for his part, said political dialogue between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev ensured a positive dynamic to all aspects of cooperation between the two countries.

The Azerbaijani president announced the 21st meeting of the bilateral intergovernmental commission, which will be held in Moscow in late June.