The ‘Middle Corridor’ Trade Route Just Got a Boost

The ‘Middle Corridor’ Trade Route Just Got a Boost
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, left, and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pose during a visit to Nagorno-Karabakh on the sidelines of a summit between the two leaders, March 12, 2024 (Photo by the office of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan).

An international effort to create a rail and maritime transport corridor to connect Asia to Europe, while avoiding Russian territory, has gained momentum in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the success or failure of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, or TITR, commonly known as the Middle Corridor, depends on solid relations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, two countries whose borders on the eastern and western shores of Caspian Sea are key to enabling the route.

With that in mind, a March summit in Baku between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, which included new cooperation agreements centered on the corridor, offered the latest signs of hope for the Middle Corridor’s prospects.

Established in 2013, the TITR originated as a consortium of companies from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Turkey to transport goods and commodities from Central Asia to Europe via the Caucasus, thereby bypassing Russian territory. It has become a more urgent priority for the European Union since Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Due to international sanctions against Russia and a desire to reduce dependency on Moscow, the Middle Corridor has become the EU’s preferred option for East-West and West-East trade, including the transport of critical energy supplies. 

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