AZERBAIJAN - Diplomacy
Secretary General, Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States
Halil Akıncı was born in 1945 in Turkey, and graduated from Ankara University’s Faculty of Political Sciences, Department of Foreign Relations. He served in different positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and between 1980 and 1989 worked in the NATO Secretariat in Brussels as an Administrator dealing with the Soviet Union. He served in Moscow in different capacities as First Secretary, Minister Counselor, and on three occasions as Ambassador. In September 2010, he was appointed by the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey as the Secretary General of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States.
In spite of the recent global economic crisis, our members, especially Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, have continued to develop remarkably fast. Over the past 10 years, the economy of Azerbaijan has tripled to become the 66th largest economy in the world, up from the 106th ranking it had in 2003. Azerbaijan successfully hosted the Third Summit of the Turkic Council on Transport and Connectivity in the city of Gabala in August 2013. The first summit was held in October 2011 in Almaty and focused on economic cooperation, whereas the second was held in August 2012 in Bishkek and focused on educational, scientific, and cultural cooperation. Azerbaijan is currently Chairman-in-Office of the Turkic Council. It is responsible for realizing the Council’s initiatives of cooperation within the region and beyond and of the elimination of hurdles that stand before these initiatives in collaboration with the Secretariat. Cooperation within other international organizations is one of our main priorities. Azerbaijan was overwhelmingly elected a member of the Security Council of the UN in 2011, and during its membership it defended the interests of our other members. And by leveraging its influence in the international arena, Azerbaijan also contributes to the work of the Council within other international organizations.
Azerbaijan undertakes a crucial role in providing energy security for Europe by pioneering secure transport and reliable supply. The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline opened an international energy and transportation corridor. Upon the completion of this project, other Central Asian states benefited from its transit opportunities. For the first time in history, the Caspian Sea is connected to the Mediterranean Sea, and this has encouraged the implementation of other huge projects. Nowadays, it is difficult to separate the transport and energy sectors. The restoration of the ancient Silk Road is already realistic, and in this sense the operationalization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in 2015, initiated by Azerbaijan, will represent a major achievement as an example of truly great geopolitical and geo-economic cooperation. If a transport corridor is developed, the Caspian Sea member states will benefit commercially from bilateral trade and transit. Currently, cargo loaded in northwestern China travels 23,000 kilometers to reach Europe via sea routes. However, the new multi-modal transport network utilizing the Caspian Sea connection within the Central Transport Corridor could cut transport times from 30-45 days to 10-12 days, and shorten the distance from 23,000 kilometers to 8,500 kilometers. In this respect, the new Baku International Trade Seaport, to be completed in 2015, will play an important role. The Shah Deniz II final investment decision (FID), signed on December 17, 2013, will ensure Europe’s energy security and expand regional cooperation. Meanwhile, the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP), on the territory of Turkey, and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), to be directed from the Turkey-Greece border to Italy, will carry Shah Deniz II gas on to Europe. The challenge we face today is the speedy conclusion of these pipelines within five years. In the future, other Central Asian states could join these projects, providing additional opportunities for the diversification of energy supplies.
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