On Friday, July 21st 2017, the Romanian Diplomatic Institute together with the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Bucharest, organized a roundtable attended by members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the Romanian-Turkmen friendship group, representatives of the academic and business environment. The participants celebrated 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The main note of the evening were the positive dynamics of the bilateral relations between Turkmenistan and Romania in areas such as political and diplomatic cooperation, trade, cultural and humanitarian issues.
Klaus Iohannis, the President of Romania, stated that there is an intention to deepen bilateral relations by implementing joint initiatives, especially in the energy sector, and direct transport links between the Black Sea and Caspian ports in order to improve trade. The relations between Romania and Turkmenistan have been strengthened through the Joint Declaration by the President of Romania and the President of Turkmenistan in 2009 and the Action Plan of 2012 for implementing the Joint Declaration. Previously, it was reported that the two countries agreed to study the optimal routes of the Black Sea-Caspian Sea Trade and Transport corridor using the advantages of the Constanța and Turkmenbashi ports. Thus, attention is focused on the formation of the Eurasian transport corridor.
In particular, the State Service for Maritime and Fluvial Transport of Turkmenistan has in recent years studied the possibility of transporting cargo, including liquefied gas, to Constanta. The delivery route involves the use of special containers and passes through the Caspian Sea to Baku (Azerbaijan), then by rail to Batumi or Poti (Georgia, the Black Sea region) and from there to Romania by sea, opening up new horizons to Europe.
Also, the issue of ensuring connectivity between Europe and Central Asia was discussed in order to carry on the Black Sea – Caspian Sea freight transport project initiated by Romania and Turkmenistan. This project is concerned with exploiting the direct connection across the Black Sea from Constanța maritime port to the Georgian ports. The President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, reiterated his country’s strong support for this project.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov, expressed his special appreciation for the political relations between the two countries as well as in the multilateral framework, showing that Romania is Turkmenistan`s gateway to Europe. He highlighted Turkmenistan’s interest in exporting Turkmen gas to Europe, including through the AGRI project. In this context, there was an exchange of views on the state of the trans-Caspian pipeline project. The AGRI (Azerbaijan – Georgia – Romania Interconnector) project aims to transport natural gas from the Caspian region, through Azerbaijan and Georgia and across the Black Sea with methane ships. The prospects of such a project involve the construction of two liquification facilities one on the Georgian Black Sea coast and the other one in port Constanța. Once in Romania, liquefied gases would be re-gassed and transported further to the rest of Europe using the available pipelines. Gas volumes are mainly intended to ensure the consumption of Romania and Hungary, the rest being directed to other potential markets in Europe. The AGRI project was initiated in 2010, through a memorandum signed in Bucharest between Romania, Azerbaijan and Georgia, later joined by Hungary.
Thus, on this diplomatic event the interests of Romania and Turkmenistan are refreshed. Through the AGRI project the countries involved will receive both economic and diplomatic benefits. Turkmenistan ranks 4th in the world in terms of natural gas reserves and exported a volume of 46 billion cubic meters in 2014, being one of the world’s leading exporters. Through this program, the Turkmen state aims to increase its export volumes by expanding its sales market.