Today, Vladimir Putin talked with his Azerbaijani counterpart on the phone. According to the Kremlin press service, they discussed the issues of the bilateral agenda. In addition, the Russian president congratulated Ilham Aliyev on his birthday: he turned 58 today. The telegram that Vladimir Putin sent earlier points out that Moscow and Baku are united by a strategic partnership, and the Kremlin counts on the continuation of fruitful joint work for the benefit of the Russian and Azerbaijani peoples. One example of such work is the bridge that was opened today on the border of the two countries. The resolution to build this bridge was made last year at Putin and Aliyev”s meeting.
Sergey Samokha and Sarkar Magomedov watched the events from both sides of the border.
“For the sake of Russia and Azerbaijan”s friendship and neighborliness”, “For the sake of strengthening trade”. The banners on the trucks resemble toasts, but they suit the occasion: the opening of the bridge over the Samur River on the border of two countries. Samur at The Yarag-Kazmalyar border crossing is not just a connection between the two countries, Russia and Azerbaijan. In the great scheme of things, it’s the gate to the Middle East. Each day, hundreds of heavy trucks pass through here, carrying thousands of tons of cargo; one-tenth of them are from Iran. The new bridge has already become part of an important transportation route North-South. The length of the bridge is 325 meters (1,066 feet), the width is 17.5 meters (57 feet), there are two fully-featured traffic lanes. It’s just a part of the North-South transport corridor, the direction will be fully operational in the nearest future when they complete the construction of a speedway from Baku to the Russian border, as well as ring roads around Derbent and Khasavyurt in Dagestan.
Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development: “The growth of trade between Russia and Azerbaijan is now one of the fastest among all the countries that Russia trades with; the growth rate has reached 25% this year, despite all the problems in the global economy.”
The bridge is just as important for the people on both sides of the border. Most residents of border villages and settlements have relatives on the other side of the border.
Shakhin Mustafaev, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan: “The new bridge will make the peoples of Azerbaijan and Dagestan even closer, as well as Russia as a whole”.
In just one year, they cross the border almost a million times. To understand the importance of this artery, you don’t even need to consider it part of the South-North international corridor. In the eyes of common people—tourists and farmers who made the majority of people wait for hours in the traffic jams at the border – it’s not just 300 meters of superior quality highway. Fertile land with trees bending under the weight of fruit even in winter will only profit from the opening of the new bridge, the truck drivers believe.
Shamil Ramazanov, driver: “I approach the border and watch the an oncoming traffic. If they switch the headlights on and off, it means that I’m good to go”.
Shamil isn’t used yet to being able to pass freely and having excellent asphalt with flagging under the wheels. The head of Dagestan, who laid the first stone two years ago, is here to personally thank the contractors.
Vladimir Vasiliev, Head of Dagestan: “Trust gives birth to cooperation, cooperation gives birth to prosperity for states and peoples, and the development that pursues the economic interests of both countries. We have unprecedented growth”.
A pedestrian path on the new bridge will be opened soon. The workload capacity of the new roadbed was demonstrated today by driving three heavy transporters from both sides at the same time. They continued their journeys to Russia and Azerbaijan respectively. It’s very symbolic because the countries have only agreed to increase cooperation.
Sarkar Magomedov, Salekh Salekhov, Abdula Magomedov, Sergey Samokha, Andrey Stiforov, and Artyom Kuznetsov, Vesti.