Kazakh PM takes part in Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway launch

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

The BTK project is part of strategy to diversify Azerbaijan's petrochemical economy by becoming a Eurasia trade and logistics hub.

The inauguration at the Port of Baku in Alat, Azerbaijan was attended by Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Kazakhstan's prime minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, prime minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Uzbekistan prime minister Abdulla Aripov.

Stretching 826km between Azerbaijan's capital and the Turkish city of Kars, via Tbilisi, the line will help reduce travel time on the "New Silk Road" between Beijing and London to 15 hours, which is twice as fast as sea travel.

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Located at the strategic crossroads of Europe and Asia and nearby sizeable markets such as Turkey, China, Iran and Russia, Azerbaijan is poised to become the top choice for foreign investors aiming to expand their business in the region.

The railway's peak capacity will be 17 million tons of cargo per year. We were first to support the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. The new railway promises to provide an economic boost to the region.

He also pointed out that the new railway will create great social and economic benefits for the entire region while his Azeri counterpart underlined the "historic" significance of the line. It will play its role in ensuring stability and security in the region.

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The head of state noted that BTK is a result of fraternity, friendship of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia: "These countries constitute significant projects for regional and world countries".

Its total cost surpassed $1 billion, with the bulk of the financing coming from Azerbaijan's state oil fund.

The 826-km (513-mile) railway project connecting Baku with the northeastern Turkish province of Kars via Tbilisi was launched in 2007 and construction began in 2008. "We always say that Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia, but this will then be physically true", said Altay Atli, researcher at the Istanbul-based Sabanci University's Istanbul Policy center.

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