Trend:Two sanctioned regional states and a small but ambitious country squeezed between them have held a trilateral meeting in Tehran discussing issues of common interest, such as the North-South transportation corridor, as well as problems of bilateral interest, like for instance, state of affairs in Syria.
Undoubtedly, the top theme has been implementation of the North-South corridor, which should bring significant benefits to all. Despite the corridor’s route has several branches, the western one through Azerbaijan was accepted as the fastest and accordingly the most cost-effective way to deliver goods from Iranian Bandar Abbas port to Russia and further to Northern and Eastern Europe.
The project is in fact of high economic importance as the traditional sea route via Suez Canal and Mediterranean and then through British Channel and the North Sea used to take about 45 days, whereas the Corridor will enable to reduce the time of delivery by almost twofold.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said in a post-summit briefing that all financial agreements (a $500 million loan to Iran) on construction of the 165-km Rasht-Astara railway, the only missing link in the territory of Iran, have been initialed and would come into effect in the short run.
In addition to purely economic issues, such as increasing trade turnover and using national currencies in payments, the summit had a political background with each party having its own sub-agenda.
Skillfully making use of its geographic location once again, Azerbaijan has achieved its goal to become a transit part of a new intercontinental transport route whose significance is crucial for many countries.
Thereby Baku demonstrates its ability to be a strong business partner and the key player in South Caucasus and Caspian region, which is a great deal for a small regional state.
Essentially, Iran and Russia are also transit territories of the Corridor as the route takes its source in India’s Mumbai and ends in Helsinki. Accordingly, taking account of their vast territories, both countries will earn well from transit duties.
As well, once CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is put into service, great amount of Chinese cargoes will reach Pakistani port Gwadar, which is, figuratively speaking, at arm’s length from the port of Bandar Abbas.
The sanctions created an intimate interdependence between Russia and Iran making them synchronize actions in their foreign policy against common political foe. One of the first comments President Putin made in his “somewhat tired” manner, was confirmation of a full support to Iran’s nuclear agreement.
However, Russia and Iran have different weight classes, which becomes clear due to their different reactions to what is heard across the Atlantic.
For Russia it is important to show everyone it is no longer a regional but world power, having a say in global issues. By every move Russia demonstrates it cares neither for sanctions nor harsh statements, while Iran is hypersensitive and aggressive about any comment coming from the US.
Iran is capitalizing on every opportunity to enhance economic and political ties, particularly with neighboring countries. Knowing that hard times can be back at any time, it is important for Tehran to maintain friendly surroundings sending the next message to Washington that it will fail to isolate Iran or strangle its growing economy.
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