Azerbaijan gains importance as new commercial transportation corridor, says Ambassador Cekuta
Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 14
By Gulgiz Muradova – Trend:
Azerbaijan gains importance as a new commercial transportation corridor, U.S. Ambassador Robert F. Cekuta said at the Fifth Frankfurt Gas Forum on Dec.14.
Ambassador Cekuta said that Azerbaijan is developing into an increasingly important transit hub, which makes it key to another global venture - the New Silk Road.
Ambassador Cekuta reminded that in late October, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey, along with top figures from Georgia and a number of Central Asian countries officially inaugurated the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad.
"This new modern rail link, along with the new Port of Alat south of Baku on the Caspian, will provide a surface route connecting East and South Asia with Western Europe. Rather than taking 35 days to move goods by ship between Shanghai and Hamburg, these new rail and ferry links could enable goods to travel this same distance in 11 to 14 days. These new surface connections augment the air corridor already used through Azerbaijan’s airspace, in addition to the new, modern air cargo facilities there," said Ambassador Cekuta.
These developments, according to Ambassador Cekuta, underline Azerbaijan’s importance as a new commercial transportation corridor.
"Like the ancient trade routes, this New Silk Road should facilitate entrepreneurial and value-added business along its route. But there is a U.S. strategic interest as well – and a strategic interest rooted in very practical matters. Azerbaijan provides another route into and out of Afghanistan. This route is not just important for moving military materiel, but also for farmers and other Afghans to sell their legitimate products, such as the pomegranates and nuts they have long exported. It will help integrate the countries in the Caspian Basin and Central Asia with each other. It can serve, as did its namesake, as a nexus for cultural, educational, and intellectual exchanges as well as greater innovation," Ambassador Cekuta, further stressing that it could strengthen connections between the people of Central Asia and the Caspian Basin with Europe as well.
The BTK railway was constructed on the basis of the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey intergovernmental agreement. The main purpose of the project is to improve economic relations between the three countries and gain foreign direct investment by connecting Europe to Asia. The railway is intended to transport one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight at the first stage. This capacity will then reach 3 million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo.