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Strengthening Ties Between Central Asia and the Caucasus: Azerbaijan-Uzbekistan Rapprochement

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Recently, it is observed that the ties between Central Asia and the Caucasus have been strengthened. Especially with the Ukrainian War, the destabilization of the Northern Corridor, especially, has pushed Eurasian countries, including China, to look for new routes.  At this point, the rapprochement process between the countries in the east and west of the Caspian Sea, where the Middle Line is located, has accelerated. It can be said that the will of Azerbaijan, which brought peace to the Caucasus by winning an important victory in the Second Karabakh War, for the opening of the Zangezur Corridor was also effective in this. Because the possibility of preventing cooperation and integration between the countries of the Turkish World, which was saved from being geographically fragmented, disappeared after the Second Karabakh War.

As it is known, an agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in February 2021, and the states agreed on the disputed regions in the Caspian Sea. Afterwards, various developments took place in the relations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. It can be said that Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan took such a step for transferring their energy resources to the Western World and increasing geopolitical measures in the China’s process of reaching Europe. On the other hand, the membership of the three states to the Organization of Turkish States has also added dynamism and speed to this rapprochement.

The strengthening of relations between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan has increased the importance and potential of using the Middle Line between East and West. In this process, it is seen that Baku has strengthened its relations with Tashkent. During the visit of President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev to Uzbekistan on 21-22 June 2022, 19 agreements were signed between the states.

The main content of the agreements is on deepening strategic partnership and expanding comprehensive cooperation. A consensus has been reached in areas such as defence, foreign policy, trade, economy, investment, industry, oil, gas, chemistry, textile, construction, food and agriculture. The issues of development of transportation corridors and the improvement of transportation tariffs were also discussed between the governments, who declared a common will to increase bilateral trade relations, and an agreement was reached on Uzbekistan’s utilization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway.[1]

While the trade volume between countries was 81 million dollars in 2019, it was recorded as 82.3 million dollars in 2020.[2] In addition, in parallel with the growing bilateral relations, the trade volume increased by 16% and reached 111.9 million dollars. This figure is expected to continue its upward trend in 2022 and beyond.

Later, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Transport of Türkiye, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan held a dialogue meeting in which the Middle Line was at the centre. As a result of the meeting held on August 2, 2022, the Tashkent Declaration was signed, which raised Uzbekistan’s relations with Azerbaijan to a new level.[3]

Finally, an important development between the two countries has been through cooperation in the field of energy. On August 29, 2022, an agreement was reached between the Ministries of Energy on a road map the goals and plans of which will be determined until the end of 2023. According to this agreement, joint projects will be carried out in the fields of renewable energy, oil, gas and petrochemicals. It is also known that the parties have agreed on issues such as developing joint projects for the exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources of JSC Uzbekneftegas and SOCAR, as well as sharing of experience, encouraging mutual investments and privatizations. In addition, it is claimed that cooperation will be made in Karabakh-based projects. At this point, the strongest possibility is the possibility of Uzbekistan using the Zangezur Corridor to open up to the West.[4]

Uzbekistan is a shining star in the heart of Eurasia due to its important underground resources, having the biggest population in Central Asia, taking economic liberalization steps, and its geopolitical location. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is the most important gateway of Asia to Europe through the Caspian Sea. It is obvious that the strengthened relations between the two states will be moved to a higher level by acting with a “win-win” approach. In addition, the Baku-Tashkent rapprochement will also increase the strategic importance of the Middle Line. Because Azerbaijan will be an important port for the Central Asian states that do not have any outlet to the sea.

As a result, it is clear that the developing relations between Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan will provide two-dimensional gains.  First of all, states will achieve new economic gains and strong ties. In particular, Uzbekistan will be able to reach the West through the shortest and least costly route. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, will turn its current position into a gain. Secondly, it will be ensured that the full potential of the Middle Line will be revealed and used. This means the strengthening of the region in the context of the Caucasus and Central Asia. At the same time, while this situation facilitates transportation from China to Europe, it will also accelerate sustainable development in Eurasia.


[1] “Özbekistan ve Azerbaycan Stratejik Ortaklığı Derinleştirecek”, TRT Avaz, https://www.trtavaz.com.tr/haber/tur/avrasyadan/ozbekistan-ve-azerbaycan-stratejik-ortakligi-derinlestirecek/62b1f86601a30a2d402c478b, (Date of Accession: 06.09.2022).

[2] Ilham Karimli, “Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan Set New Priorities for Expanding Cooperation”, Caspian News, https://caspiannews.com/news-detail/azerbaijan-uzbekistan-set-new-priorities-for-expanding-cooperation-2022-6-23-39/, (Date of Accession: 06.09.2022).

[3] Sayın Bakanımızın Türkiye-Özbekistan-Azerbaycan Üçlü Dışişleri, Ticaret ve Ulaştırma Bakanları Toplantısına Katılmak Üzere Özbekistan’ı Ziyareti, 2 Ağustos 2022”, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Dışişleri Bakanlığı, https://www.mfa.gov.tr/sayin-bakanimizin–ozbekistan-i-ziyareti–2-agustos-2022.tr.mfa, (Date of Accession: 06.09.2022).

[4] Joanna Lillis, “Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan Agree Energy Cooperation as Ukraine War Fosters Closer Turkic Ties”, Eurasianet, https://eurasianet.org/uzbekistan-azerbaijan-agree-energy-cooperation-as-ukraine-war-fosters-closer-turkic-ties, (Date of Accession: 06.09.2022).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.