Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct.31
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway is a hugely beneficial project for many countries, Bruce Pannier, US expert on Central Asia and energy issues, told Trend.
The official opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was held in Baku Oct.30. The BTK railway was constructed on the basis a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement. The railway’s peak capacity will be 17 million tons of cargo per year. At an initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo.
“It not only links East (China and Central Asia) and West (Europe) but offers the possibility of linking North (Russia) and South (Iran and the Persian Gulf). So there are dozens of countries that stand to gain from the BTK railway,” said the expert.
He pointed out that Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey will be able to export to and import goods from all these dozens of other countries.
“So the three countries gain there. But even when trade is between, for example China and Europe, the three countries will receive transit fees. So every train that passes on the BTK line benefits Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey in some way,” added Pannier.
He went on to added that as is true of so many projects through the Caucasus – pipelines, road, railways – Azerbaijan wins first by having new export routes but second, as being a transit country.
Azerbaijani ports and railway stations will always be making money off these deals, said the expert, adding that Azerbaijan is, at least at this moment, the primary Caspian hub for East -West trade.
Commissioning of BTK is a historical event not only for Azerbaijan and countries in the region, but also globally.
BTK is a clear evidence of the fact that Azerbaijan has turned into a transit and logistics center of international level.
This project increases the opportunities for cargo and passenger transportation from East to West and allows to significantly reduce the duration and cost of transportation. The duration of transport from Baku to Kars will take 16-17 hours.
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