Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey Launch 'Silk Road' Rail Link

The presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan and the prime ministers of Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan attended a ceremony at the Port of Baku on October 30 to dispatch an inaugural freight train on the Baku - Tbilisi - Kars corridor.

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway will play a pivotal role to carry Chinese goods to Europe and will link Caspian Sea with Black Sea.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has thanked the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili for his contribution to the successful implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project facilitating the transport of passengers and goods between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Speaking at the inauguration, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the BTK railway had become a reality because of the friendship of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia.

The Azerbaijani president expressed confidence that the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project will be completed soon and there is no problem with its implementation, Trend reports.

He noted that the BTK railway is also the most important economic project for Turkey.

After departing China, trains will cross into Kazakhstan at the Khorgos Gateway before being transported by ferry across the Caspian Sea toward Baku and then heading to Western Europe via Georgia and Turkey. Based on current cargo flows the company said it expects to re-route at least two million tonnes of existing cargo flows (principally dry cargo now transported by truck) between Turkey, the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia. "It is planned to carry five million tons of cargo in the first stage and 17 million tons in the next stage", he declared. "This is our great success, great victory", said the Azerbaijani president.

The BTK project is part of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev larger strategy to diversify the country's oil-rich economy and turn it into a trade and logistics hub in Eurasia.

A memorandum of understanding on signing a preferential trade agreement between the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey was signed by Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev and his Turkish counterpart Nihat Zeybekci.