The Platform


Middle and lower-tier powers like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan often forge ties outside the purview of their larger, more powerful neighbors.

In the tapestry of Central Asian geopolitics, two nations have emerged as master weavers of regional unity and strategic cooperation: Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Together, they are redefining the very fabric of regional integration and security. Their collaborative efforts are a testament to a foreign policy that thrives on sustainable dialogue, mutual socio-economic growth, cultural exchange, and humanitarian collaboration, carving out new platforms for beneficial global integration.

At the heart of this burgeoning alliance lies a strategic cooperation steeped in shared heritage. The centuries-old tapestry of friendship, history, language, culture, and religion intertwines the two nations. For thousands of citizens, the bonds of this relationship have made both Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan places they are proud to call home. It is a camaraderie that spills over into the cultural sphere, where Azerbaijani streets bear the names of Kazakh poets and scientists, and the digital echelons where literary works are shared and celebrated.

Ahead of a state visit to Baku, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the president of Kazakhstan, told Azerbaijani Press Agency: “The foundation for the successful development of our relations lies primarily in the centuries-old fraternal bonds between the Kazakh and Azerbaijani nations, the fruitful cooperation between our states over many years, and mutual support on the international stage.”

Economically, Kazakhstan stands as a beacon of partnership to Azerbaijan in the robust Central Asian region. Hundreds of Azerbaijani capital companies are registered in Kazakhstan, navigating the fields of trade, construction, processing, and logistics with finesse. This synergy is reciprocated with approximately 150 Kazakh companies flourishing across Azerbaijani industries, from agriculture to transport, weaving a web of interdependency and prosperity.

In his inaugural speech, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev underscored the priority of deepening ties within the Organization of Turkic States (OTS). Baku’s foreign policy finds a cornerstone in this emphasis, shining a spotlight on the expansive potential the Organization harbors for regional cohesion.

Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan stand as pillars of Turkic unification, anchoring the eastern and western centers of integration, respectively. This bilateral relationship is a geopolitical and geo-economic linchpin, bolstering the standing and significance of the Turkic World.

The burgeoning rapport between Azerbaijan and its Central Asian counterparts has catalyzed a paradigm shift in regional transportation orientation. A surging trade turnover and burgeoning joint investment ventures speak volumes of the fertile ground for economic and strategic collaboration that has been laid.

The relationship between Baku and Astana within the Turkic Council, where Kazakhstan plays a pivotal role, has blossomed into strategic interaction. Astana’s role is far-reaching, spanning the enhancement of transport capabilities via the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, to fostering the exchange of commodities such as oil and wheat, and even extending to the digital realm with the establishment of underwater communication lines.

The expansion of the TITR, coupled with the diversification of Kazakhstan’s export portfolio of energy resources, holds paramount importance for Azerbaijan. It is a relationship that is not merely about economic gains but is also a means to solidify political influence and proactive engagement with Kazakhstan.

The Azerbaijani stake in the TITR is not merely participatory but pivotal. Efforts towards universalizing electronic cargo clearance and harmonizing digital solutions across transit routes promise to amplify the efficacy of this passage, streamlining cargo flows and minimizing border delays.

However, a missing rail link between Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and China currently curtails Tashkent and Ashgabat from amplifying their cross-border transportation. This geopolitical reality spotlights Kazakhstan as a vital transit hub within Central Asia, upholding the TITR potential crucial for Azerbaijan’s strategic utilization.

Since the onset of 2020, there has been a remarkable quintupling in trade turnover, escalating from $109 million to an impressive $529 million. Simultaneously, the legal infrastructure has seen significant expansion, with the ratification of close to 40 bilateral agreements in the past eighteen months.

The substantial engagement between the two nations was underscored by the signing of 14 agreements across a spectrum of sectors, including education and energy, during the visit. This was further highlighted by the inaugural convening of the Supreme Interstate Council of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. The council’s discussions spanned an array of topics aimed at deepening collaboration in trade, the economy, investment, and the strategic oil and gas sector, along with transport and logistics. Additionally, the dialogue encompassed renewable energy, digital communications, and avenues for cultural and humanitarian exchange.

As the two nations forge ahead, the confluence of their efforts is shaping a shared destiny. The intricacies of their relationship — from digital advancements to transport networks — are more than economic undertakings; they are the threads of a shared vision for a united and thriving region. With each collaborative stride, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are not just navigating the complexities of the 21st century; they are leading the charge toward a future where regional harmony paves the way for global development.

Theo Casablanca is a blogger who lives in Brasília.