Valuable book describing past, present and future of Baku port

Baku, June 25, AZERTAC

The historical roots of the Baku International Trade Seaport go back into the distant past. The port of Baku, being the country's sea gateway, has become an important means that turned the city into an international transport and communication hub.

According to AZERTAC, these thoughts are reflected in a book entitled “The Baku Port”, which has been prepared by the “Baku International Trade Seaport” CJSC. The book, published in the Azerbaijani and English languages, begins with a statement by President Ilham Aliyev that “The Baku International Trade Seaport plays an irreplaceable role in organizing cargo transportation in the Caspian Sea.”

The book dwells upon the past, present and future of the Baku port. Considering the international status of the port and its important role on the Great Silk Road, it has become necessary to conduct renewed research in this area, and the new book comes across as an important step in this direction. It provides a place for facts and historical documents previously unknown to the general public, contains information about the important contributions of great leader Heydar Aliyev and President Ilham Aliyev to the development of the port, some unique photographs, illustrations and drawings.

The first part of the book, which consists of five sections, talks about the ancient and medieval period of the Baku port. The images of boats on stone slabs and rocks discovered near a cave, which was used as a dwelling site on the upper terrace of Gobustan, one of the ancient settlements in Azerbaijan, in the 6th millennium BC are cited as evidence of the existence of an ancient port in these places. In addition, clay plaques with Assyrian cuneiform dating back to the 9th century BC, Egyptian sources, notes by ancient Greek authors Hecateus of Miletus (6th century BC), Herodotus (5th century BC), Aristotle (4th century BC), Strabo (1st century BC), Roman author Pliny (1st century), as well as materials dating back to the times of Homer and the Argonauts, are sources that testify to the international significance of the Baku port. It is noted that the first special study of the Caspian Sea was the research work called “Periplus of the Caspian Sea” (Description of the Caspian Sea shores) compiled under the leadership of commander and navigator of the Seleucid era Patroclus in 285 BC.

It transpires from the book that numerous material and cultural samples discovered as a result of subsea archaeological research confirm that the port of Baku played an important role in international trade in ancient times. As an example, a bronze dolphin brought from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in the 1st BC is given as the most ancient exhibit.

The sources cited in the publication are notes by Arab travelers of the 10th century such as Ibn Haukal and Al-Mugaddasi, European maps (Catalan map dating back to 1375) where the Caspian Sea is referred to as the “Sea of Baku”, notes by Azerbaijani geographer Abdurrashid Bakuvi, as well as Marco Polo (13th century), Adam Olearius (17th century), Afanasiy Nikitin (15th century), Evliya Chelebi (17th century) and other authors create a complete picture of the international relations of the Baku port. The trade relations of Baku as the main port on the Caspian Sea with various states are confirmed by numerous historical documents and facts. In this context, the decree by the head of the Safavid State, Tahmasib I, on the appointment of Sheikh Zahid as first minister of the Baku port in 1564, as well as the “Russian campaign” agreement of Great Britain on communication between Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan along the Volga-Caspian route, are quite noteworthy. The book also mentions the campaign of Peter I to the shores of the Caspian Sea with

the aim of capturing Baku. It is noted that the first map of the Baku harbor, called “The Baku Bay”, was compiled by well-known Russian navigator and hydrographer Fedor Soymonov in 1719.

The second chapter, called “The Baku Port: from a small port to the largest port of the Russian Empire (19-early 20th centuries)”, indicates that the port has retained its international status due to trade with the independent states of Central Asia, as well as Iran, and the creation of a customs checkpoint. The book also describes the visit here by Academician Emilia Lenz in 1830 to study the change in the water levels of the Caspian Sea, the launch of a military port in the Bayil Bay on the basis of a decree of Emperor Nicholas I (17 September 1854), the beginning of the construction of the Baku port in 1859, the construction of a system of lighthouses in the Caspian Sea in the 1860s, the preparation of the “Atlas of the Caspian Sea” and other interesting historical facts. It turns out that a number of oil industry innovations were implemented in the Baku port for the first time in the world. This includes a metal tanker called “Zoroaster”, which was used in the transportation of oil by the Nobel Brothers, a two-bladed tanker called “Assan Dadashev”, the world's first diesel motor ship “Vandal” with an internal combustion engine, the “Delo” vessel with a reversible engine. Eight out of nine motor ships that existed in the Russian fleet in 1911 were based in the port of Baku. Along with information about the activities of the Baku Trade Port Authority, which officially started operation on 21 July 1902, the book also describes the strategic importance of the port and information about it being a very profitable enterprise.

This section also talks about the contributions of Azerbaijan’s first professional engineer Fatali bey Najafgulu bey oghlu Sultanov (1845-1910) to the construction of ports on the Caspian Sea, organization of shipping and safety.

The third chapter, entitled “The Baku Port in 1914-1968”, contains a wealth of material describing the operation of the port during World War I and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, as well as the 1920-1960s period of Soviet power. During the first and second world wars, the port retained its international status. The Baku port was the main port in the Caspian and one of the largest ports in the USSR. It included the Baku harbor, the newly built Absheron port station, the port station for the transportation of liquids located on Pirallahi (Artem) island, the Lokbatan pier, port stations in Astara, Lankaran, the port of Ilyich, and the Alat pier. It is noted that the establishment of Oil Rocks and the opening of the Baku-Krasnovodsk (now Turkmenbashi) ferry route influenced the structure of the Baku port.

The section called “The Baku Port at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries” emphasizes that in both periods of great leader Heydar Aliyev’s leadership of Azerbaijan, the Baku seaport underwent fundamental changes and development. Back in Soviet times, modern ships from Yugoslavia, Poland, Finland, Norway, France, Holland and Germany were delivered to Baku, which contributed to infrastructure changes in the seaport. In accordance with the dictates of the times, a sea terminal was built. Terminals were moved from the Baku Bay to Alat, Sumgayit and Primorsk. Scientific, educational, technical and methodological literature on the activities of the seaport was published in the Azerbaijani language.

This section also contains information about the expansion of the port's activities after the restoration of state independence and innovations in the port that occurred after the signing of the “Contract of the Century”.

The last section, entitled “Development Strategy of the Baku International Trade Seaport at the Present Stage”, states that the port can bring a fairly large income to the country. It is emphasized that one of the goals of President Ilham Aliyev in turning the region into an important transport and logistical center is to develop and popularize the Baku port in the world, as it is located at the crossroads of the East-West and North-South transport corridors. The port of Baku as the sea

border of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the center and maritime gateway of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor, a transport hub connecting our country with the west (Turkey and the EU), the south (Iran and India) and the north (Russia).

The book contains ample information about the role and potential of the Baku port in international transport corridors.

The book provides detailed information about the operations of the port's management and information system, digitalization of international transport corridors, as well as materials on the opening, with the participation of President Ilham Aliyev, of the Baku Sea Terminal (2006), the ferry terminal of the International Trade Seaport Complex (2014), the Ro-Ro terminal (2018), the International Trade Seaport Complex (2018), as well as the port’s international cooperation. It is noted that the Baku port, being competitive and multifunctional and connecting the region with international routes, is included in the first free trade zone in Azerbaijan. The Baku port will have the status of the largest port and free economic zone in the Caspian Sea. In 2020, the port entered a new stage of development. In the future, there are plans to create production and services that create added value in the Alat free economic zone, which also includes the port.

The publication also provides information on the history of the Baku port.

The manager of the book project is the General Director of the “Baku International Trade Seaport” CJSC, PhD in political sciences Taleh Ziyadov, the editor and coordinator is PhD in law Parvina Ismayilova. Authors of the text are Nazim Arabov and PhD in History and Associate Professor Sabuhi Ahmadov.

The illustrated book, published in an elegant design by CASPIGROUP (Istanbul), contains numerous maps and photographs, including those of AZERTAC.

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