Monday, 08 May 2023 12:31

Honoring Heydar Aliyev’s legacy: Development era of the port of Baku

Heydar Aliyev was a great and visionary leader who played a crucial role in the formation of modern Azerbaijan. One of his most notable achievements was the development of the Port of Baku, which has become a vital transportation hub and economic center in the region. Under his leadership, the port underwent significant modernization and expansion to meet international standards, contributing to Azerbaijan’s emergence as a logistics center and a crucial link in the transportation of oil and gas from Azerbaijan to world markets.

President Ilham Aliyev is continuing Heydar Aliyev’s legacy by transforming Azerbaijan into a trade and logistics hub for the region, with modernizing and expanding the Port of Baku as a key pillar of this invaluable strategy. This modern hub strategy, based on the heritage of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, aims to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and gas exports and increase its role in global connectivity as a key player in regional trade and commerce. The Port of Baku holds immense potential for the country’s economic growth and prosperity and is a critical component of Azerbaijan’s continued development and progress.

Under Heydar Aliyev’s leadership, the Port of Baku underwent significant modernization and expansion in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. His vision for the development of transport and logistics infrastructure was one of the pillars of Azerbaijan’s socio-economic policy. He oversaw the modernization of transport infrastructure in the country to meet international standards, including the reconstruction of the Port of Baku as part of the East-West and North-South transport corridors, and the construction of the Baku Marine Terminal 52 years ago. To ensure the project’s success, modern equipment was installed at the Port of Baku, and port terminals and facilities were constructed to meet modern standards.

The Port of Baku has a long-standing historical significance, dating back to ancient times. Today, it serves as a vital sea gateway for the region and has contributed significantly to Azerbaijan’s growth as an international transport hub and logistics center. Its strategic location also makes it a major transfer point for various trade and commerce activities.

The revival of the ancient Silk Road has made Azerbaijan’s maritime transport an important means of transit between Europe and Asia and has further increased the importance of the Port of Baku, located at the crossroads of the West and East. The development of transport infrastructure across land and water in the South Caucasus, especially in Azerbaijan, and the revival of the shortest transport corridor between Europe and Asia, will result in the region’s integration into the West, as well as a transport network for economic development.

National Leader Heydar Aliyev’s leadership brought about significant changes and developments at the Port of Baku, a period that specialists refer to as a time of «technical development and progress in Azerbaijan.» The port’s growing importance was closely linked to the country’s industrial progress. Between 1971 and 1985, Azerbaijan exported 350 different products to 65 countries, reflecting the port’s pivotal role in the country’s economic development.

Obtaining modern loading and unloading equipment and cranes from foreign countries, such as Yugoslavia, Poland, Finland, Norway, France, Holland, and Germany, was a challenging task that required approval from the central administrative structures of the USSR. Nevertheless, Heydar Aliyev’s unwavering determination and strong leadership ultimately led to the successful acquisition of the necessary equipment. Under the visionary leadership and guidance of Heydar Aliyev, the Port of Baku witnessed a transformative era of development that laid the foundation for substantial growth within the port industry of Azerbaijan. This remarkable progress was made possible through the collaborative efforts of numerous state structures and organizations, working together to implement a range of infrastructure projects at the port.

These fundamental improvements have brought about a remarkable transformation of the Port of Baku, positioning it as a vital maritime gateway for the country. The port’s strategic advancements have played a pivotal role in establishing Azerbaijan as an internationally recognized transport hub and a prominent trade center on a global scale.

The absence of a Marine Terminal at the Port of Baku posed a significant challenge. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Heydar Aliyev tasked architects with proposing a project for a new marine terminal facility. The new Baku Marine Terminal was officially opened on July 1st, 1971, after additional quay works, with Heydar Aliyev himself in attendance. It quickly became the most modern and multifunctional port in the Caspian Sea basin, addressing the pressing need for a marine terminal in the region.

The Baku Marine Terminal, an impressive example of modernist Soviet architecture, was presented as a model building to other river and seaports in the USSR, cementing Heydar Aliyev’s legacy as a visionary leader. The new terminal not only improved passenger transport but also boosted the country’s economic growth by increasing the flow of goods and passengers between Azerbaijan and other countries.

Heydar Aliyev’s unwavering commitment to Azerbaijan persisted even after his appointment as the first deputy Chairman of the USSR’s Cabinet of Ministers in 1982 and his high-level appointment to work in Moscow. Despite his union-level responsibilities, Heydar Aliyev remained steadfast in his efforts to resolve issues in Azerbaijan. He oversaw the acquisition of 17 cranes, 23 provision, 12 passenger, 9 firefighting, and other ships, along with the installation of the necessary infrastructure at the Port of Baku.

By the late 1980s, the Port of Baku had undergone significant expansion to include the main cargo terminal, ferry terminal, cargo area, and two oil terminals. Heydar Aliyev’s attention and care were instrumental in the significant progress that the Port of Baku made between 1969 and 1987, establishing it as a crucial sea gateway and contributing to Azerbaijan’s emergence as an international transport hub and commerce center.


Heydar Aliyev returned to Azerbaijan in response to the great demand of the Azerbaijani people. He was elected President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 3 October 1993 through a popular vote. Upon assuming office, he quickly restored stability and created conditions for economic revival by taking bold political steps to attract foreign investment.

The signing of the «Contract of the Century» on 20 September 1994 marked the beginning of a new national oil strategy in the history of independent Azerbaijan. The agreement brought in significant foreign investment and led to the development of Azerbaijan’s offshore oil fields, boosting the country’s economy and creating employment opportunities.

During this period of revival, the Port of Baku also underwent significant changes. It became a vital link in the transportation of oil and gas from Azerbaijan to world markets, resulting in increased activity and revenue. Additionally, the port’s infrastructure was modernized, and new facilities were constructed to accommodate the growing demands of the shipping industry.

Under Heydar Aliyev’s leadership, the Port of Baku underwent significant changes, leading to Azerbaijan’s emergence as an international transport hub and transportation center. Heydar Aliyev initiated the TRACECA program, also known as the «New Silk Road,» which marked the beginning of a new stage of transport relations for Azerbaijan with Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Europe. The program aimed to support political and economic independence through alternative transportation routes and establish a fast and affordable transportation corridor from Europe to Central Asia across the Black Sea and the Caucasus.

Thus, work on the corridors necessitated official recognition of international port status for the Port of Baku. The Baku International Sea Trade Port’s (the Port of Baku) charter was adopted on 28 November 1994 by decision no. 407 of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, enabling the port to operate as a legal entity and self-finance with its own complete financial accounts.

The Port of Baku has played a crucial role in expanding Azerbaijan’s trade relations with other countries. Reconstruction work at the port, within the TACIS – TRACECA program of the European Commission, commenced in 1996, and in 1998, a new container terminal was inaugurated at the port. The Port of Baku was awarded the Euromarket-98 award by the European marketing research center in Brussels.

The economic reforms initiated by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev, and continued by his worthy successor Ilham Aliyev, the current President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, have achieved great success. President Ilham Aliyev of the Republic of Azerbaijan made a bold and visionary decision to relocate the Port of Baku facilities from the crowded downtown area to Alat Settlement, about 65 km south of the capital. This strategic move has not only decongested the city center, but also allowed for the creation of a modern and efficient sea trade port.

Alat Settlement is an ideal location for the new port, as it sits on the Caspian Sea and is strategically located at the intersection of major transport corridors, including the North-South and East-West routes. This makes it a crucial hub for connecting not only Azerbaijan, but also Central Asia, Europe, and beyond.

The new Baku International Sea Trade Port complex covers an area of 400 hectares and has an annual capacity of 15 million tons, including 100,000 TEU containers. It boasts 13 cargo quays, two ferry quays, and two Ro-Ro quays, as well as a universal dry cargo and container terminal consisting of seven quays. The port’s infrastructure includes modern equipment, warehouses, border and customs service points, and an international passenger terminal is also in the works.

President Aliyev’s foresight and strategic vision has enabled the Port of Baku to take its rightful place among the ports of developed countries. The relocation to Alat Settlement has not only modernized the port but has also further enhanced Azerbaijan’s role as a crucial transportation hub in the region.

As 2023 marks the 100th birthday anniversary of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, President Ilham Aliyev has declared it the ‘Year of Heydar Aliyev’ in Azerbaijan, emphasizing the profound impact of Heydar Aliyev’s leadership on the country’s progress and development. Heydar Aliyev’s strategic vision has positioned Azerbaijan as a logistics center in the Caspian Sea basin and the wider region, with significant global impact, including in the Eurasian space. The enduring legacy of the Great Leader continues to serve as an inspirational force, guiding and shaping the continuous development of the Port of Baku both in the present and for the future.

Under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev the Port of Baku’s future is promising, with a strong commitment to continued expansion and development through innovative partnerships and strategic investments. Its prime location in Alat Settlement, coupled with modern infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities, makes it a key player in the region’s logistics and transportation sector, with the potential to become a major hub for trade and commerce between Europe and Asia.

The Port of Baku has a strong commitment to sustainable development and environmental protection. As the first Green Port of the region, the port has been awarded the ECO Port certificate for its efforts to reduce environmental impact and increase efficiency. The port is also a member of the UN Global Compact and has developed a Climate Action Plan that prioritizes sustainability while promoting resilient economic development. The port’s commitment to sustainable growth is further demonstrated through its pursuit of public-private partnerships to develop new facilities such as a fertilizer terminal and a grain terminal. These expansion projects are expected to enhance the port’s capacity and its role as a crucial link in the international logistics network connecting Europe and Asia.

Under Heydar Aliyev’s visionary leadership, Azerbaijan was transformed into a centerpiece of trade and logistics, strategically positioned on the global stage for increased connectivity. Today, President Ilham Aliyev successfully continues to execute this invaluable strategy, positioning Azerbaijan as a key player in global connectivity and paving the way for success beyond the oil era. The Port of Baku, as a key infrastructure project, has become a symbol of this success, with its strategic location and ambitious expansion plans signaling a bright future for Azerbaijan’s economic growth.


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