Caspian Energy Journal Caspian European Club
Friday, 19 October 2018 12:00

Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea will enable to step up cooperation in the transport sector, Minister of Transport of Azerbaijan Featured

Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Quluzade, how will the decision on the status of the Caspian Sea affect the implementation of international projects of Azerbaijan?

Ramin Quluzade, Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan: As you know, in August this year, the heads of state of the Caspian littoral states signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in the city of Aktau, Kazakhstan. Undoubtedly, the signing of the convention and the implementation of the future measures will ensure the  continuation of cooperation of the littoral  states at a new level of mutual understanding, Azerbaijan will affect the establishing a close relationship with the Caspian littoral states and the solution of existing problems on geostrategic, political, economic and other important issues.

I would like to mention that, along with the convention, an agreement on cooperation in the field of transport between the governments of the Caspian littoral states was also signed. The main purpose of the agreement is to identify large-scale international transport and logistics hubs in the Caspian littoral states, develop the infrastructure for international transportation and provide free access to the other seas and world ocean from the Caspian Sea, as well as the ports of the parties. This, in its turn, will further boost cooperation between the Caspian littoral states in the field of transport.

CE: How will Trans-Caspian International Transport Route influence the trade turnover with Azerbaijan?

Ramin Quluzade: The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, located on the Europe-Caucasus-Asia international transport corridor, is one of the main transportation routes passing through the territory of our republic in the East-West direction. This route is an important link between Central Asia and the Caucasus region, which contributes to deepening economic integration and facilitating access to European countries, increasing trade turnover among the countries in the region, improving social well-being  and expanding mutual relations. The Trans-Caspian route reflecting the co-ordinated activity of transport agencies of the participating countries, in addition to carriage of goods, may in the future facilitate the establishment of economic zones in the territories of the countries located on the route.

The implemented measures have a positive impact on carriers and cargo owners, offering more competitive conditions  for transportation of goods  from  Asia to Europe and vice versa, as well as increasing trade turnover between the countries in the region. This is also felt in the increase in the volume of goods on the route. The Trans-Caspian route has a great potential to continue this trend in the future.

CE:How do you assess the historical and practical significance of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project?

Ramin Quluzade: The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which is of special strategic importance among large-scale projects, was put into operation in October last year.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev said that the trade turnover and mutual investment between the countries along the road will increase, this road will serve stability and security.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which is the shortest and safest route connecting Europe with Asia, reduces the distance between China and European markets by up to 15 days. This is faster than the sea route, and cheaper and more efficient than air transport.

CE:Recently, much has been said about the need to develop an innovative economy.  We would like to know your opinion about it.

Ramin Quluzade: One of the main goals of the purposeful reform policy implemented in our country is to create a competitive national innovation system. Today, work is underway to apply innovations in all areas.

Creating a national innovation system in the "Strategic Road Map of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the Prospects of the National Economy ", approved by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan is stated as a key issue. To achieve the goals set in this direction, an innovative development model of the economy is developed and infrastructure that supports innovation in all areas is formed.

Also, the innovation policy in the "Azerbaijan 2020: A Look into the Future" Development Concept envisages creating the necessary conditions for the creation and application of new knowledge and technologies. These adopted or other strategically significant documents   serve to further accelerate the country's innovative development.

Numerous measures are underway by the Ministry to support the development of telecommunications, which is one of the priorities of the non-oil sector.

To provide support to the expansion of the startup movement and realization of innovative ideas of citizens, the Ministry together with the Regional Development Public Union of Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Microsoft Corporation organizes startup tours in Baku and regions within the framework of the project "From Idea to Business".  For the first time, the project, which also covers regions, is very interesting and is supported by local and international organizations such as Microsoft Corporation, the United Nations Development Programme and Azerbaijan Youth Foundation.

As you know, the international exhibition and conference ITU Telecom World, which was held in September this year, will be remembered for high results of Azerbaijani startuppers. The projects, which received grants from the State Fund for Development of Information Technologies, gained positive results.

We are carrying out a range of activities aimed at developing the cloud technology services market and infrastructure, which are now becoming a necessity for application in different areas of the economy. The most reliable Data Center of the region, operated by AzInTelecom LLC under the Ministry, has high potential for data processing and storage. Our goal is to turn this potential into a real economic advantage for our country.

Fast Track Acceleration Program was launched in August this year at High Tech Park LLC under the Ministry for the rapid development of startups willing to get necessary experience in doing their own business.

It should be noted that over the past decade, rapid growth in the use of the internet as well as access to the internet through mobile devices has been one of the key factors that have helped increase the accessibility of products and services.

The Ministry together with relevant government agencies, private companies, local and international organizations organizes events related to the implementation of scientific and technical and innovation policies on high technologies. This, of course, plays an important role in the formation of the ecosystem we talked about.

CE: How do you assess the role of the State Fund for Development Information Technologies in the ecosystem?

Ramin Quluzade: The State Fund for Development of Information Technologies was established six years ago by the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Fund is operating under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan and provides financial support for promotion of ICT activities, application of innovations, as well as the expansion of applied research.

To date, according to the directions of activity, the Fund has financed 117 projects as a result of 6 grant contests.

The Fund attaches importance to the financing of innovative and applied scientific and technical startup projects, as well as expanding access to preferential financial resources from year to year at the expense of the Fund for promising and emerging small and medium-sized businesses operating in the ICT field. In my opinion, the Fund's role is great as source of finance, which is one of the key elements of the ecosystem and investor.

CE: What can you say about increase in tariffs of mobile operators in Azerbaijan? Is the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies responsible for it?

Ramin Quluzade: Thanks to 3 mobile operators operating in Azerbaijan's telecommunication market, a healthy competitive environment has already been formed and this has a positive impact on service tariffs.

At the same time, in accordance with the current legislation, only international call tariffs of mobile operators operating in the Republic of Azerbaijan are regulated by the Tariff (Price) Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Moreover, operators have the right to independently determine the tariffs and rules of payment for telecommunication services unless otherwise stipulated in the legislation according to the relevant article of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan "On Telecommunications".

Operators' pricing policy is determined freely according to the market, taking into account costs and level of profitability. Free tariff determination is based on transparency, consumer convenience and competitive principles.

I would like to note that the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies regularly gives relevant recommendations to telecommunication operators operating in our country  in order to improve the level and quality of services rendered by mobile operators and to provide the population with quality and competitive mobile communication services.


Thank you for the interview

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