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Azerbaijan
The new generation [ go to first page of report ]

V.I.P. INTERVIEWS
H.E. Mr. Ziya Mamedov Interview with:

H.E. Mr. Ziya Mamedov

Minister of Transport


Contact:

Tbilisi ave, 1054,
Baku
Tel.: (+99412) 30 31 91
Fax: (+99412) 31 60 22
E-mail: ziyamamedov@mintrans.az




06/02/04

In 1998, after the Summit on the Great Silk Road, a Presidential Decree established the Ministry of Transport. It is still a very young Ministry since you got appointed on spring 2003 only. What has motivated the creation of this ministry and what are the main challenges you are now facing as first Minister of Transport in Azerbaijan?

On August 5 1998, due to the presidential decree No 743 the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Azerbaijan was established. Being a central state executive body, the Ministry of Transport pursues the transport policy of the Azerbaijan Republic, regulates the activity of the transport modes. As you know there are several modes of transport. All of them excluding pipeline transport are under the control of the Ministry of Transport. The Ministry of Transport is empowered to take measures to develop the transport means, regulate the transport tariff policy, join international conventions on this field.The Ministry being the central executive state body works out projects serving the interests of the transport policy of the government and submits it to the latter. But the challenge is that as it is a newly established ministry we need financial means to complete its formation. The government supports us in solving these issues. We have already hired the staff. Previously, "Azerbaijan avtomobil yollari" (Azerbaijan highways) and "Avtomobil yollari" (Motor transport) were closed. The Ministry took car of it and presently they function as juridical persons and the ministry regulates their activity.

To what extent does the Ministry cooperate with international financial institutions and the European Union?

The Azerbaijan Ministry of Transport has joined several international conventions. We are cooperating with the international financial institutions and organizations such as EBRD, EU, WB, ADB, Kuwait Fund, Asian Development Bank etc. We are open to cooperation. We take an active part in the EU projects. We are also participating in the TACIS and TRACECA programs. Within these projects a bridge was built, 500 km fibre-optic communication cabel has been installed along the east-west corridor up to the Georgian border. EU gave us $6 mln credit line for this purpose. The EU also provided us with a $500,000 grant to buy boilers for washing and cleaning oil tanks. Those boilers have already been installed in Bilajary railway station. The total amount of the grants within the framework of these projects makes up $24 mln.

What do you consider as your main priority, creating a new legal base for the sector or investing in the rehabilitation and upgrading of transport infrastructure?

No sector of the econmy may exist and develop without a legal base. Legal base is created and we make amendmets to the exising laws or we give our proposals to the government. We work out legal-technical documents, give them for approval and we consult on these issues with the international funancial institutions and organizations. And we also make efforts for development of the infrastructure. For ex,. as I already mentioned the installation of the fiber-optic communication cabel along Baku-Boyuk Kasik corridor (on Georgian border). And the EBRD has granted $20 mln for the reconstruction of the railways and we have already reconstructed 65 km of the railways and part of it we directed towards the putting into operation the boilers for the cleaning and evaporation of the tanks. We pay great attention to the repair and reconstruction of motorways. We have worked out the motorway development (reconstruction) strategy. Not only we but also the foreigners are also concerned about the state of the motor ways. As we have already become an independent country we want our roads to comply with international standards, but for that we need money and time. Besides, 46 km of the four-line western motorway has been rebuilt and we are going to hold its opening ceremony. Since 1998 up to present the budget allocated for rehabilitation of roads makes up $400 mln.

Do you invite foreign companies to participate in this development plan?

We have done all the works I mentioned before with the foreign companies through tenders. And the winners of those tenders are mostly the foreign companies. For ex, the reconstruction of the 46 km motor way has been done by a Turkish company. German Siemens won the tender for the installation of the fiber-optic communication line and they brought all the equipment. The Italian company is carrying out the reconstruction of the boiler house in Bilajary station.
We are against monopolism. We want to create a competitive environment. We realize that fair and free competition is one of the main factors for the economic development. Now that we are an independent country, our target is to develop and hold our decent place in the international world.

How do you allocate your budget?

The Ministry is financed from the state budget. The budget of the Ministry is meant only for the Ministry itself. The budget for this year makes up 2.5 bn manats. Repairs and reconstruction of motorways make up 83 bn manats ($17 mln). The government has allocated money for the reconstruction of the Nakhchivan airport. Air transport, waterways, railway are self-financing companies. They work, get profit, finance themselves and pay taxes. The Ministry only regulates their activity.

What do you expect from the privatization of the state companies within the transport sector?

I have signed and submitted to the president a list of more than 30 companies to be privatized. The motor transport has been completely privatized. A number of construction companies in the railway sector have been privatized. The education centers or enterprises within the railway sector have been brought to subjection of the Ministry of Education.
The railway sector is a natural monopoly in Azerbaijan. But we regulate the tariffs in order to be ready for the competition. Some of the air transport companies have also been privatized and the list on privatization of the rest has been submitted to the government. We are for the privatization. Maybe no one would like to buy the railways but if anyone proposes it we can privatize it too.
Some of the air transport companies have been privatized and we have decree on their privatization. We have done works for the privation of the CSC too. As the Caspian is a closed basin the privatization of the CSC is a delicate issue. We need to be very careful on this question.

As the Minister of Transport, is there a personal project that you would like to carry out?

We are very much interested in the realization of the North-South corridor. Eastern Europe-Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran-Near East. It may be a corridor that joins Europe with Asia. Iran, India and Russia are the founders of the project. We have officially addressed to them to accept Azerbaijan into this transport project and Iran has agreed on it. We have to wait for Russia´s and India´s answer. If we take part of the project, then Azerbaijan would become a transit country and millions of tones of cargoes will transit through this route.
I also want the whole construction and rehabilitation works of the Azerbaijan motorways to be completed. We conduct negotiations with a Czech bank for the reconstruction of the Baku-North route. The Iranian side is also interested in allocatting $40 mln for the reconstruction of the Southern route.
You were previously the general manager of the

Azerbaijan State Railways for a long time. And now you are the Minister of Transport. Can you compare those 2 experiences?

I have a lot of experience in the Railways. I started as Secretary under the communism era. I worked in quite different positions. I worked as deputy chairman of the State Railway for 4 years. In July 1996 I became the chairman of that company. And after the establishment of the Ministry of Transport I got appointed Minister in April 2003 .

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