“We believe the Astana Summit will be the last to determine the legal status of the Caspian Sea,” Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov said on March 5, according to anAzerbaijan Press Agency (APA) report. Khalafov said the sides are hoping for the approval of the draft convention at the summit. “Once the convention is approved, there is going to be more work. There will be new summits which focus on the discussion of economic, security and communication issues. The sides have agreed to hold the summit in 2016, but the exact date will be decided by the presidents,” Khalafov noted.
Askar Mamin, president of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, chaired the first working meeting of the Coordination Committee of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), held Jan. 28 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The issues of setting competitive rates to transport goods and setting a rate to organise container transportation of goods across the TITR were addressed at the meeting. In addition, the sides agreed to take measures to organise container transportation of goods along the China-Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route and use the new Zhezkazgan-Beineu railway, the capacities of the Aktau seaport and the Akhalkalaki-Kars railway, which is presently under construction. Mamin was reelected as chairman of the TITR Coordination Committee for 2015. Representatives of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, Turkish State Railways, Azerbaijan Railways LTD, Georgian Railway LLC, International Seaport of Aktau, Baku International Sea Trade Port, Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company CJSC and Batumi Sea Port LLC took part in the meeting.
According to Winter Olympics organisers, Almaty will save more than $500 million after several venue changes in its bid for the 2022 Olympics. The officials said they made the project “more efficient” and “more affordable” in line with IOC (International Olympic Committee) reforms aimed at giving organisers more flexibility and reducing the cost of the games. The changes started after the IOC Evaluation Commission visit to Almaty last month and were submitted to the IOC by this week’s deadline. The biggest change is eliminating the planned venue at Shymbulak and Tau Park and relocating all Alpine skiing events to the existing Almatau mountain site. Other changes include moving freestyle ski and snowboard events to the existing Ak Bulak resort, relocating Paralympic ice sledge hockey to another arena, reducing the capacity of the athletes village in Medeo from 1,000 beds to 350 beds and eliminating one of the media villages and sub-press centres. The bid committee said the changes will reduce the construction budget by more than $450 million and the operations budget by more than $100 million. “These revisions, based on the Agenda 2020 reforms, allowed us to save over half a billion dollars while at the same time making our concept … even more convenient and more efficient,” said Almaty bid committee Vice Chairman Andrey Kryukov. With the changes, Almaty said nine of the 13 needed venues already exist.