The ancient Great Silk Road is
the road leading to the future.
Heydar Aliyev

Azerbaijan has an important geographic and strategic economic and political position. In this sense Azerbaijan carried out conjoint works with a number of world countries , European Union and other international cooperation and took and active part in the development and creation of the TRACECA program on the restoration of the Great Silk Road, (along with Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) - the founders of the TRACECA Program of the European Commission at a session held in Brussels in May of 1993. The conference defined and discussed the problems and shortcomings in the regional trade and transport systems. The Brussels Declaration that laid the foundation for the activity of the interregional program of TRACECA was adopted by the results of the conference.

Azerbaijan's participation in the TRACECA program is of strategic importance for our country and creates great capacities for the strengthening and expansion of economic relations between Azerbaijan and Europe, its integration into the world economics and the country's transformation into an international transport focus point.

An international conference devoted to the restoration of the Great Silk Road was initiated by the national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev who was deeply aware of the importance of transport sector development for Azerbaijan that had a favorable geostrategic position at the junction of the shortest transport routes communicating Europe and Asia. The conference held in Baku September 7-8 1998 was attended by the leaders of 9 countries (Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ukraine) 13 international organizations and the delegations from 32 countries. A main multilateral contract on the international transport for the development of Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor was signed on the basis of the TRACECA Program of the European Union and a Baku Declaration was adopted.

The contract was signed by the leaders of 12 countries-Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkey.

The Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Azerbaijan was appointed the Contract depositor in accordance with the principles of the Main Multilateral Contract and a permanent Secretariat of the TRACECA Intergovernmental Commission was created.

The Permanent Secretariat was decided to establish in Baku and its opening ceremony took place on February 21, 2001. The ceremony was attended by the National leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev, Foreign Minister of Sweden, the representative of the country chairing the European Union Anna Lind, Secretary General of the EU Council and the High Representative for the General Foreign and Security Policy Havier Solana and the Commissar of the European Commission for foreign affairs Christopher Patten. The national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev highly appreciated the works carried out by the European Union and aiming at the implementation of TRACECA program. At the same time he also stressed that Azerbaijan regards all that as the foundation laid for the future works.

The State Commission was created by order 250 of the Cabinet of Ministers of June 21. 12 2000 for the provision of the implementation of the main multilateral contract on the international transport for the development of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor and the deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan was included into the commission.

As the result of the close cooperation between the Foreign Ministry and the Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission of TRACECA the major problems existing in the implementation of the problem in the country were defined and the works are being carried for their settlement. In frames of this cooperation the leadership of the Foreign Ministry and the representatives of the permanent secretariat conduct meetings, the Foreign Ministry takes an active part in the activity of the TRACECA work groups and the TRASCE representatives are invited at the arrangements organized by the Foreign Ministry.

During realization of the Program European Union allocated nearly 14 million Euro to Azerbaijan Republic for funding of investment projects.

Within the previous period the important works were carried out in the development of transport infrastructure for the fulfillment of the provisions of Main Multilateral Contract in frames of the TRACECA Program.

Thus, a number of measures were undertaken for the improvement of the technical supply of transport sector, definite operations were carried out for the restoration and reconstruction of motor highways, railways and bridges, the repair of the railway transport means, vessels and airport mechanisms for the increase in the cargo transportation by the TRACECA transport corridor.

An oil unloading port with the annual capacity of 10 million tons of oil products was commissioned in Baku.

The reconstruction will commence on the ferry terminal of the International Trade Port of Baku in the near future.

Different financial institutions (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The Economic development Fund of Kuwait, Islamic Bank for Development, World Bank and others) allotted USD 255 million for the state structures of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the implementation of the aforementioned projects of the TRACECA program.

The Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Azerbaijan observes the implementation of the TRACECA program's tasks with great attention and takes an active part in these works. The Activity of the Foreign Ministry is carried out in two directions-As the depositor of the Main Multilateral Contract it exchanges messages with the Contract Member-states on the work of the contract and informs the contract participants on the documents, information and materials related to the contract.

The issues connected with the development of the TRACECA Program by the Foreign Ministry that fulfills the function of the representative of our country in the relations with other states and international organizations are regarded as the priority in the foreign policy and the work is carried out for the protection of the TRACECA interests in frames of international organizations and at the level of bilateral relations during the meetings and talks carried out, and the proposals are made for the improvement of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor's activity in accordance with the Law on the Diplomatic Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

As the result of the works carried out by the Republic of Azerbaijan and other member-states of the main multilateral contract to increase the attractiveness of the TRACECA transport line, great achievements were made and the volumes of cargoes transported by the route rose significantly.

Thus, the central segment of the line (Azerbaijan -Georgia) transported 33 million tons of different cargoes by different transport means in January-November of 2002 that is by 10.6% higher that that of 2001. In 2002 the volume of transit cargo transportation by TRACECA line increased by 12 from that of 2001.