Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 21
By Anakhanum Khidayatova - Trend:
The Afghan president's visit to Azerbaijan will mark the beginning of major changes in the region, Mehmet Fatih Oztarsu, the vice chairman of the Turkish Analytical Center Strategic Outlook, the expert on the South Caucasus, said.
"Afghanistan will be able to establish the energy, economic relations with the West on the basis of transportation projects through Azerbaijan," he told Trend Dec. 21.
He said that Afghanistan has repeatedly expressed interest in the "Baku - Tbilisi - Kars" project.
Oztarsu said that Azerbaijan and Afghanistan can establish broad cooperation through such projects.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani will visit Azerbaijan December 22.
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is being constructed on the basis of a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement.
Azerbaijan allocated a loan of $775 million for the construction of the railway's Georgian section.
The State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) finances the project in accordance with the Azerbaijani president's decree 'On the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project activities', dated February 21, 2007.
A new 105-kilometer branch of the railroad is being constructed as part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. In addition, the railway's Akhalkalaki-Marabda-Tbilisi section is under reconstruction in Georgia that will increase its capacity to 15 million metric tons of cargo per year. A depot is under construction in Akhalkalaki for the transition of trains from the existing tracks in Georgia to the European ones.
The peak capacity of the corridor will be 17 million metric tons of cargo per year. At the initial stage, this figure will be equal to one million passengers and 6.5 million metric tons of cargo.
According to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Afghanistan amounted to $173.76 million in January-October, which is 22.2 percent less than for the 10 months of 2014. Azerbaijan does not import goods from Afghanistan.