Leaders inaugurate Kars - Tbilisi - Baku railway

Turkish PM thanks Georgian PM for contribution to Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway

Following the sixth meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, a ceremony of signing Azerbaijan-Turkey documents has been held with participation of President Ilham Aliyev and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Aliyev said at the ceremony that the 826-kilometer railroad is the "shortest and most reliable link between Asia and Europe".

According to Georgia Rail the project effectively opens a new rail-only corridor from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey, excluding the need for sea transportation with the opening of the Marmaray rail tunnel under the Bosporus. This route will provide a passage to Kazakhstan to reach Turkey--the Europe.

Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey have launched a rail link connecting the three countries, establishing a freight and passenger link between Europe and China that bypasses Russian Federation and Armenia. Avoiding Armenia, track will link port of Baku with Kars city of Turkey where it connects Turkish railways system.

Later today, Kvirikashvili will attend the official opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway.

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The project's total cost rose to more than $1 billion from an initial estimate of about $400 million.

Regional experts believe that BTK is emerging New Silk Road network of trade and transport corridors that are coming together between China and Europe.

"Several European countries have expressed an interest in this project and Azerbaijan is in talks with them", the Azerbaijani president also said, adding that Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries were interested in transporting their goods via the new rail link.

Regarding military and defense cooperation, Azerbaijani President Aliyev said Azerbaijan will continue to purchase military products from Turkey.

As one of the land routes for China's Belt and Road initiative passes through Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the BTK Railway has gained significance as it is expected to provide the direct transfer of goods from Beijing to London in around 12 to 15 days. "It's planned to carry 5 million tons of cargo in the first stage and 17 million tons in the next stage", stated Azerbaijan's President Aliyev.

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