The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is a historic project, said Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev Oct. 30.
"Guests from brotherly and friendly countries attend today's solemn ceremony," Ilham Aliyev said at the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad official opening ceremony in Baku. "I particularly welcome Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime ministers of Georgia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, and ministers of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, and I am deeply grateful to them for their participation in this ceremony."
"The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is a historic project of strategic importance. The length of this railroad is approximately 850 kilometers, 504 kilometers of which go through Azerbaijan."
President Aliyev stressed that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is the shortest and safest route connecting Europe to Asia.
“Through this route, it is expected to transport 5 million tons at the first stage, 17 million tons at the next stage, and then larger volumes of cargo,” Ilham Aliyev said. “In short, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is becoming an important part of Eurasia's transport map.”
The president noted that trade turnover and mutual investments between the countries along the railway will increase, cooperation between the countries using the railroad will deepen, and the railroad will serve stability and security.
President Aliyev expressed confidence that with the use of the BTK railway, the development of tourism will gain a large scale and the number of tourists will increase.
“Naturally, the successful operation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will enhance the geopolitical significance of our countries and create additional opportunities for us. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will be very important for the development of business, mutually beneficial cooperation."
"The agreement on the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was signed in Georgia, then the groundbreaking ceremony was held in Turkey, and finally, we celebrate the opening of this railway in Azerbaijan,” said Ilham Aliyev.
The head of state noted that the construction of this railway is a result of friendship and brotherhood between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
“The three states successfully cooperate in all spheres, support each other. Our countries, peoples implement important projects for the world. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is a project that has a rightful place among those projects,” added President Aliyev.
The head of state said the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was opened in 2006 with participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“That pipeline is a big infrastructure project connecting the Caspian and Mediterranean seas. Today, oil is transported via that pipeline, including from the eastern part of the Caspian Sea. In other words, our countries also provide transit opportunities for other states,” said President Aliyev. “A year later, in 2007, again thanks to the cooperation of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline was built. This project also has been ensuring the energy security of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, and successfully operating for almost 10 years.”
President Aliyev reminded that the three countries have also connected their electricity lines and the cooperation in this sphere is successfully developing today.
“Naturally, the Southern Gas Corridor, which is a global project and the biggest infrastructure project in Europe, is created thanks to the joint activities of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, as well as other countries. The implementation of this project is continuing successfully. As it is known, the Southern Gas Corridor consists of four parts. Ninety-eight percent of the work has been completed on Shah Deniz 2. The South Caucasus Pipeline is a gas pipeline connecting Azerbaijan and Georgia. The level of implementation is 99 percent,” noted the head of state.
The implementation of TANAP project, which is the main part of the Southern Gas Corridor, has been completed by 84 percent, while the implementation of TAP project has been completed by 60 percent, said the president.
In other words, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway has been established on the basis of the previously implemented projects, noted Ilham Aliyev.
“Naturally, if we had not implemented those grandiose, large-scale projects in the oil and gas sector in the previous period, today we could only talk about Baku-Tbilisi-Kars,” said the president.
Some foreign circles did not believe in the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, he noted.
“They believed that this would not be possible and the technical facilities and financial resources necessary for that would not allow the project to be implemented. However, the three countries have shown and proved that this is possible,” said President Aliyev. “It is possible to do all the work when there is our strong will, mutual support, and confidence in each other. The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is a clear example of this. I am sure that Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, which make the greatest contribution to regional cooperation, will continue to support each other.”
The head of state noted that big projects as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway strengthen the three countries’ unity and friendship.
“Central Asia, Kazakhstan are showing great interest in this railway project. The participation of delegations, high-ranking officials from Central Asia and Kazakhstan in this ceremony clearly demonstrates this,” said President Aliyev. “We are confident that there will be additional opportunities for the transportation of goods. Traditional friendly relations of our countries with Central Asian countries will also be strengthened with the help of this railway.”
He said that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is of great importance for Europe.
“Azerbaijan has already held relevant negotiations with several European countries. The countries of Europe also show great interest in the construction of this railway."
"I should also note that at the same time, Azerbaijan is taking important steps to create the North-South transport corridor. All the work on the North-South railway project has been completed in Azerbaijan, in other words, the entire infrastructure is ready,” added President Aliyev.
The head of state noted that at the same time, Azerbaijan is demonstrating its technical and financial capabilities to create infrastructure in other countries.
“We are working now on the integration of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars and North-South transportation corridors. I believe that this is quite possible, and I am sure that in the future the North-West and South-West energy transportation routes will be put into operation. These two grandiose projects will unite many big countries. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars means the restoration of a part of the historical Silk Road. It can be used by China, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and European countries. The North-South transport corridor will unite India, Pakistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia and European countries,” said President Aliyev.
He went on to say that Azerbaijan is an active participant of both projects and a country that invests its financial resources.
“In general, I can say that Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the transportation sector, big investments have been put. From 2004 until today, 11,000 kilometers of highways have been built and six international airports have been commissioned in Azerbaijan. Today Azerbaijan has a very big fleet of cargo aircraft. There are about 20 big cargo planes in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has the biggest naval fleet in the Caspian Sea,” said Ilham Aliyev.
“A fleet of 270 ships plays a special role in the organization of cargo transportation in the Caspian Sea. A big shipbuilding yard was built in Azerbaijan several years ago that manufactures all types of ships. The plant will carry out even more work in connection with the expected growth of cargo transportation in the Caspian Sea,” noted the president.
Of course, the International Sea Trade Port in Alat is an important part of Azerbaijan’s transport infrastructure, said President Aliyev.
The construction of the port is continuing successfully and the port is already operating, he added.
“The first phase of the port is planned to be commissioned in the middle of the next year. After that, 15 million tons of cargo and 100,000 containers will annually pass through the port. As a result of completion of the second stage, the capacity of the Alat port will be 25 million tons of cargo and one million containers."
"In other words, investments put in the transportation sector in recent years have already led to the creation of a very strong infrastructure, which is of great importance both for our country, for the region and the world,” added the head of state.
The Azerbaijani president once again noted that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is a historic and global project.
“This project will bring countries closer. This project will play its role in ensuring stability and security in the region. This project will expand our economic opportunities, and we will receive more funds. The implementation of this project became possible only thanks to the joint efforts of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. We have not received any help from anywhere, we have not taken loans, we built this railway with help of internal capabilities, and today we put it into operation,” said the Azerbaijani president.
“Dear friends, I want to congratulate you once again on this remarkable historic event. I am confident that the path of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will always be open,” concluded President Aliyev.
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