The first meeting of the Quadrilateral Ministerial Coordination Council, formed by Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia, was held in Istanbul. Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Adil Karaismailoğlu, Minister of Technology and Industry of Hungary Laszlo Palkovics and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of Serbia Tomislav Momirovic attended the meeting. After the meeting, in which Metin Akbaş, General Manager of the Republic of Turkey State Railways (TCDD), was also present, the signing ceremony was held between the ministers of the three countries. The Railway Transport Working Group was established as the first act of the Quadrilateral Ministerial Coordination Council.
Adil Karaismailoğlu, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure; In his speech at the first meeting of the Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia Coordination Council of Ministers and the protocol signing ceremony, he said that their aim is to evaluate the plans for "Green Transportation" that will affect the future of the world, to remove the obstacles in transportation accessibility, and to establish a more effective and efficient transportation network. Noting that the meetings they held were productive in terms of increasing cooperation, Karaismailoğlu emphasized that the most important result of the meeting was the formation and the realization of the first meeting of the Bulgaria-Hungary-Serbia-Turkey Quadrilateral Ministerial Coordination Council as the ministers responsible for transportation. Expressing that they attach great importance to developing their relations in every field of transportation as the four member countries of the Council, Karaismailoğlu said: “The Council will fulfill a valuable function in reinforcing our cooperation for the benefit of all regions. As you know, Turkey is at a strategic point in terms of transportation between Asia and Europe. Even the increase in the trade volume between China and Europe alone draws attention to the importance of the position of our countries. As you know, when international transportation corridors are considered, the Middle Corridor has turned into a strong alternative in terms of distance and time. To explain this with a concrete example, a freight train from China to Europe will cover 10 thousand kilometers in at least 20 days if Russia prefers the Northern Trade Route. If he chooses the Southern Corridor via the Suez Canal by ship, he can travel 20 thousand kilometers and reach Europe in only 45 to 60 days. However, the same train covers 7 thousand kilometers in 12 days via the Middle Corridor and Turkey. These figures alone demonstrate how advantageous and secure the Middle Corridor is in global trade, between Asia and Europe.”
WE AIM TO BE A GLOBAL BASE IN LOGISTICS
Adil Karaismailoğlu, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, stated that the Russia-Ukraine War, which has been taking place since February, has put the Northern Corridor in trouble, while the route of the Southern Corridor remains disadvantageous in terms of both cost and time compared to its route. He said that he still remembers that the ship Ever Given, which was going to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, crashed and blocked the Suez Canal. Karaismailoğlu said, “Taking into account the fact that we are at the center of the Asian-European foreign trade networks in our region, we aim to be both a regional and a global base in logistics. Our government also attaches special importance to the development of transport and communication infrastructures, which are the lifeblood of large economies. We have serious responsibilities to develop trade and increase the efficiency of the line in the Middle Corridor. First of all, it is one of our goals to increase the competitiveness by reducing the costs in order to improve the volume of freight transported by rail. Our target for 2021 is to increase the amount of freight transported by rail from 2053 million tons to 38 million tons annually.” he said.
Reminding that they came together as the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Transport of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkey last week, Karaismailoğlu continued his speech as follows: “With Turkey's suggestion, we formed a working group to improve our cooperation in the field of transportation and increase transportation between the three countries. We have determined the study topics that are concrete and that will affect the result. As you know, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line, which is the most obvious output of the cooperation in the field of transportation between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, was put into practice. As you can see, we continue to develop our cooperation with the east of our country and to establish new solution-oriented mechanisms on an international scale. We are taking a new step every day in the development of the Middle Corridor, which has become a center of attraction by hosting the establishment of a council that will also carry out important and effective activities in the west.”
RAILWAY TRANSPORTATION WORKING GROUP IS ESTABLISHED
Karaismailoğlu stated that they formed the Railway Transport Working Group as the first act of the Bulgaria-Hungary-Serbia-Turkey Quadrilateral Ministerial Coordination Council, whose first meeting they held today, and concluded his words as follows: and green transportation, including the handling of railway infrastructure, will immediately start working on many issues and will present the results to the council. Thus, as the ministers of the four countries, we will rapidly move towards our goals by making decisions based on the results of the issues discussed at the technical level. We are also planning their integration on an international scale by evaluating the investments we have made in our country in a multidimensional way. With the work to be carried out within the framework of this council, Halkalı- When our high-speed train line between Kapikule is completed, we will coordinate the flow of cargo and passengers with other countries after Kapıkule. We believe that if there is an intention, if there is belief, then the opportunity will definitely be found.
As long as there is perseverance and determination, no obstacle is too big to be overcome. So far, we have put our international integration-focused investments into the service of our nation and the whole world. We will continue with the same determination from now on. We are striving to ensure that every penny we spend makes a maximum contribution to the interests of our nation.”
THIS CENTURY WILL BE THE CENTURY OF RAILWAY TRANSPORT
Speaking after the protocol signing ceremony, Hungarian Minister of Technology and Industry Laszlo Palkovics said that the picture they looked at when they first started discussing these issues 1,5 years ago was different, but that their country is at a much more competitive point now. Stating that as Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Turkey, they will continue to work with the aim of improving the search for alternatives and the transport of products and people from the Far East to Europe, Palkovics said: We wanted to come together and give the same message. Competitiveness is important, but we can always overcome problems and create alternatives by collaborating together. This was one of the purposes of establishing our working groups. I am sure that our group, which was quickly formed and started to work, will return to us in the near future with new activities and new outputs in coordination. Together with the potentials that we think will support our infrastructure and logistics opportunities, our cooperation on issues such as railway equipment, elimination of deficiencies, and support of passenger and freight transportation will be extremely beneficial.”
Stating that a very serious part of the traffic on the European side is dispersed within the EU, but focusing on existing infrastructures and equipment is one of the biggest goals of everyone, Palkovics said, “When we look at our current century, we think that this century will be the century of rail transport, and with the steps and innovations made in this field, this view is very much. It is possible to say that it is not out of place.” said.
Serbian Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Tomislav Momirovic pointed to the importance of infrastructure and said, “If you invest in infrastructure, even your economic growth at this point will be fed from it. Your cultural richness, ties and history will always support us, as Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Turkey, we are ready to invest in our infrastructure. In this regard, we follow Turkey, of course, with its work with Hungary. As Serbia, we are also intensifying our investments.” made its assessment. Momirovic said that with their investments in railways and especially high-speed trains, they introduced high-speed trains to Serbia, and that their goal is to connect Belgrade and Budapest.
Pointing out that they cannot ignore emissions and climate change while discussing all these transportation issues, Momirovic continued his speech as follows: “Another important challenge in Europe is as follows. While the major countries of the region are in war and conflict, this situation naturally creates new problems for us above the existing ones. It develops new problems. The solution lies in the relaxation of transportation. Whether it is freight transportation and transportation opportunities in other areas. Prioritizing these and figuring out where we can find the energy and support of this area will be extremely important for all the countries we mentioned, both for Serbia and for all the countries in the region, as well as for the countries that have a coast to the sea. On this occasion, I would like to touch on one more issue, to emphasize one more thing. We are going through a difficult time for Europe, but when we look back at our countries, we have to be together. We are extremely interconnected countries and in these challenging times, no one wants to be a loser and I'm sure our friendship is in a very, very good position right now. Thanks to this position, we can communicate better, demonstrate better business activities and support our growth mutually despite these challenging times.”
After the speeches, the protocol signing ceremony was held. Later, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Karaismailoğlu presented a gift to the guest ministers. Hungarian Minister of Technology and Industry Palkovics presented a gift to Minister Karaismailoğlu.