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Two Caspian Countries Bound by Common Interests: Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan

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One of the most important events of August 2022 is the first official visit of the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Qasim-Jomart Tokayev to Baku at the invitation of the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev. On the occasion of Mr. Tokayev’s visit to Baku, a multi-faceted perspective was determined for the development of Azerbaijan-Kazakhstan relations in the fields of economy, trade, transportation and cultural relations and for further strengthening of alliance ties.

Important documents signed by the country’s leaders point out the positive implications of the visit. In particular, the Declaration on Strengthening Strategic Relations and Deepening Allied Cooperation between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and the Comprehensive Program for the Development of Cooperation for 2022-2026 are quite crucial for the future of the relations.

Other documents were also signed, setting out the guidelines for cooperation between the two states. Therefore, it can be said that through the agreements between the two sides, the relationship, strategic partnership, and alliance interaction between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan has reached a new and a better level.

During the meeting between Mr. Aliyev and Mr. Tokayev, the leaders of the two countries focused on the development of commercial and economic relations between Baku and Nur-Sultan. At this point, it should be emphasized that there is a great potential in the context of bilateral economic cooperation. For example, there has been a steady increase in trade volume in the last few years. For example, in the first half of 2022, the trade volume between the two countries increased more than six times compared to the same period in 2021 and reached 326.6 million dollars.

Another important event in the commercial and economic relations between the two countries was the Kazakhstan Trade and Economic Mission held in Baku in June 2022. As a result of the negotiations, Kazakhstani exporters signed contracts with Azerbaijani partners, amounting to more than $38 million. In addition, great hopes are placed on the Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan Business Council, which was established to serve as a platform for the dialogue between the business circles of the two countries.[1]

In addition to all these, the agro-industrial complex is very prominent due to the countries’ need to strengthen their food security. For example, Azerbaijan, which is dependent on wheat imports, is considering diversifying its supply. On the other hand, Kazakhstan, which has a suitable geographical location and deep-rooted transportation infrastructure, has become a critical grain supply source for Azerbaijan. According to statistics, in the period covering January and May of 2022, Azerbaijan increased its grain imports from Kazakhstan to 50.7 million dollars, increasing approximately five times compared to the same period of the previous year.[2]

All these are minor indicators of the relations between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. However, new challenges emerging today push both Caspian states to act together and establish such a close cooperation. The difficult situation and the economic crisis in the neighboring regions have marked the development of relations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. But there are also new issues that need to be discussed and resolved. High-level contacts are necessary as it will allow to resolve the most pressing issues within a joint framework. In this context, both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have common interests in developing the non-primary sector of the economy and expanding the transport and communication potential, which creates good opportunities for cooperation.

Another important link in bilateral cooperation is the Middle Corridor, which is a joint project of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, crossing the Caspian Sea and connecting China and Europe. This route creates an alternative to the Northern Corridor, which was isolated and destabilized by the Russo-Ukrainian War. For this reason, the parties are working for the active use of the Middle Corridor.

Apart from this, the Middle Corridor between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan is not only in terms of diversification of transportation routes; it is also important in terms of removing economic and political obstacles to Kazakhstan’s export of energy resources.

As it is known, Russia plays a complex role by putting pressure on the European oil market in order to increase the impact of sanctions on unfriendly countries. The announcement that the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), to which 80% of Kazakh oil is exported, was suspended on the eve of Mr. Tokayev’s visit to Baku also shows Moscow’s approach.[3]

As can be understood, Kazakhstan wants to diversify the routes being used while exporting oil to world markets. Nur-Sultan considers delivery via the Middle Corridor as an alternative infrastructure, especially for raw material exports. In this regard, it is quite remarkable that during Mr. Tokayev’s visit to Baku, a memorandum of understanding on the implementation of joint gas projects was signed between QazaqGaz, the state oil company of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, and SOCAR. The signed document provides:

  • Research and development of hydrocarbon deposits in Kazakhstan
  • Development of gas and chemical industries, modernization of gas transport
  • Introducing innovative technologies in this sector and exploring the opportunities for cooperation in other key areas

The memorandum may serve to develop close energy relations between the two countries and to ease the pressure on Kazakhstan. In addition, coal exports from Kazakhstan to the European Union (EU) are expected to increase in the near future due to the sanctions on Russia’s coal supply. Kazakhstan is looking for ways to develop the Port of Aktau in the Caspian and to import more into the EU by rail and sea via Azerbaijan and Georgia. It can also be said that Kazakhstan is interested in supplying some of its energy resources, especially coal, through Kazakhstan.

As a result, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, which established good relations for 30 years after gaining their independence and succeeded in bringing these relations to the level of strategic partnership, have a strong will to further develop bilateral relations. For this reason, Mr. Tokayev’s visit to Baku is such a remarkable improvement. Moreover, it is possible to say that this visit serves to strengthen the Middle Corridor, centered on the Caspian Sea, and thus is a step towards meeting the energy needs of Europe.


[1] “СМИ: Азербайджан является, прежде всего, стратегически важным партнером для Казахстана”, Report, https://report.az/ru/vneshnyaya-politika/smi-azerbajdzhan-yavlyaetsya-prezhde-vsego-strategicheski-vazhnym-partnerom-dlya-kazahstana/, (Date of Accession: 31.08.2022).

[2] “Как Казахстан и Азербайджан формируют новый вектор сотрудничества”, Internet Portal SNG, https://e-cis.info/news/568/102742/, (Date of Accession: 31.08.2022).

[3] “КТК приостановил эксплуатацию двух из трех нефтеналивных причалов”, Interfax, https://www.interfax.ru/business/857647, (Date of Accession: 31.08.2022).

Perizat RISBEKKIZI
İlköğretim ve lise eğitimini Kırgızistan'da tamamlayan Perizat RISBEKKIZI, 2019 yılında Kırgızistan-Türkiye Manas Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nden mezun olmuştur. 2020 yılından itibaren yüksek lisans eğitimini Yurtdışı Türkler ve Akraba Topluluklar Başkanlığı (YTB) burslusu olarak Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı'nda sürdürmektedir. Lisans döneminde İstanbul Ticaret Odası, Kırgızistan Din İşleri Devlet Komitesi'nde staj yapmıştır. İyi derecede Rusça ve İngilizce bilmektedir.