Aware of the risks associated with its heavy dependence on the hydrocarbon industry, Turkmenistan is considering diversifying its economy. As part of its economic diversification programme as part of national strategic priorities, as defined in the 2011-2030 National Socio-Economic Development Programme, it has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming a transnational transit corridor, including links to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. This is why Turkmenistan has invested heavily in transport infrastructure. In this context, the agreement on the Lapis Lazuli corridor is in line with the country`s strategic priorities. It will further integrate the country into the South Caucasus and provide access to a world of economic opportunity. The long-awaited agreement linking Afghanistan to Europe by road, rail and sea was signed on Wednesday at the RECCA summit in Ashgabat. The next stop on the Lapislazuli corridor is Georgia, a country that shares borders with Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey with the Black Sea to the west. For more than two centuries, the country had to seek Western support to combat the influence of its huge neighbors, Russia and Persia. After World War I, it gained independence before the Bolshevik regime took control of the country. The collapse of the Soviet Union granted it independence in 1991, but Russia continues to regard Georgia as its backyard, like its other small neighbors. The recent show of force against Georgia came about when Russia invaded the country in August 2008 and recognized the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. The action was also interpreted as an attempt to prevent Georgia from getting closer to the West by joining NATO. The Afghan delegation at the RECCA summit said that the signing of the agreement was a new page for trade and transit in the region and for Afghanistan.
The title of the project derives from the Afghan lapis lazuli, exported for many years to the Caucasus, Russia, Europe and North Africa. Some contemporary authors call Lapis Lazuli the relevant section of the Great Silk Road. The corridor is a trade and transport route that begins in the ports of Aqina and De Turghundi in the Afghan provinces of Faryab and Herat, joins the port of Turkmenbashsi in Turkmenistan, crosses the Caspian Sea and leads to Baku in Azerbaijan and the Georgian capital Tbilisi, joins the ports of Poti and Batomi on the Black Sea and finally passes through Turkey. The line covers road, rail and sea transport. It took the Member States about three years to discuss and conclude the agreement. The first country, Afghanistan, celebrated the agreement as an important development that would largely heal its long-standing economic scourge. As a landlocked country, Afghanistan relied primarily on Pakistan for international trade in light of international agreements and bilateral agreements such as the Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) and the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). However, this legal framework has not helped; The country`s economy continues to suffer from the difficulties posed by Pakistan`s transit trade. Afghanistan`s disadvantaged geographical location has been used by Pakistan as a means of pressuring its policy. In this context, the Lapis Lazuli corridor would diversify Afghanistan`s transit routes and was interpreted as the shortest, cheapest and most reliable route for Afghanistan`s trade with Europe.