Gerb

03 november 2017, 14:20
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Euronews channel has published a feature story headlined “Silk Road Rail Links Europe and China” highlighting the launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.

The channel`s reporter interviewed Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

Euronews correspondent: The Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey, the Prime Ministers of Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have completed the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Its official opening ceremony took place on 30 October. It is comprised of 846 kilometers of communication. This is the longest stretch of the Great Silk Road. The construction of the road cost almost $4 billion. According to forecasts, up to 17 million tons of cargo will be transported by these rails per year by 2034.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: There is no shorter way from Asia to Europe and from Europe to Asia. Our task for the future in terms of coordinating tariffs is to make it very economically viable as well. In the longer term, the volume of cargo will grow. Of course, this means great profits, great incomes, jobs and cooperation.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Of course, passenger transportation is of strategic and socioeconomic importance.

Euronews correspondent: Passenger trains will be able to transport up to 3 million people a year. They will start to run between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey in 2018. In the future, a major growth is expected in the tourism sector. In addition, Europe and Asia will become closer and there will be more opportunities for interaction.

Prime Minister of Georgia Georgi Kvirikashvili: The project links not only the economies of these countries and the peoples of these countries. The more integration, the greater the cooperation, the greater economic growth, trade and the greater security in this region and beyond.

Euronews correspondent: This is a historic moment – the first freight train leaves the Baku port of Alat and is heading for Turkey. These wagons carry 3,200 tons of grain from Kazakhstan. Negotiations are under way with other customers. Many are particularly attracted by the speed – whereas earlier it took more than a month for some goods to reach Europe from China, now it will take only about two weeks.

Chairman of “Azerbaijan Railways” CJSC Javid Gurbanov: There is grain, there is Russian metal, there is Russian timber, there are Chinese cargoes... We have calculated that it is about 5 million tons of cargo on its way.

Euronews correspondent: Other countries have already expressed an interest in taking part in the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project, including Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, China and India.

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During the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, a Euronews correspondent interviewed President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister of Georgia Georgy Kvirikashvili.

- Azerbaijan has played one of the key roles in making this project happen. What is the strategic importance of what we are witnessing now - the launch of this railway?

President Ilham Aliyev: This is a historic event. This is a road that links the continent, Eurasia. This is the shortest way between Asia and Europe, and Azerbaijan, along with Turkey and Georgia, took a very active part in its construction. I am very glad that we are celebrating this historic day together today: the President of Turkey, the Prime Minister of Georgia, our friends from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan – Prime Ministers and Ministers from Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. So their presence indicates how important this project is. It is the shortest and the most reliable way. This road will bring prosperity, stability and development for the entire region.

-What are the strategic goals? What do you expect from it?

President Ilham Aliyev: We expect a gradual increase in the volume of cargo through the territory of Azerbaijan to 17 million tons. In the long-term future, the volume of cargo will grow. Of course, these are great profits, great incomes, jobs and cooperation.

- Last question. Apart from the fact that it will strengthen the cooperation of your countries in a global sense, what change can this railway bring about in economic terms?

President Ilham Aliyev: Economically, I think that all countries located along this railway will be using it because, again, it is the shortest way. There is no shorter way from Asia to Europe and from Europe to Asia there. Our task for the future in terms of coordinating tariffs is to make it very economically viable as well. Therefore, we will work on this together.

- My question is to President Erdogan. How important is what we are witnessing today, the launch of this railway, for Turkey?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: First of all, this railway, as a connection between Europe and Asia, has been realized as a very important strategic investment. It has become the most serious investment in another stage of the historical Silk Road. When Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia made this decision, some did not believe it was a feasible project.

- What are the strategic and economic expectations of Turkey in this project?

- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: First of all, this railway is certainly important from a strategic point of view both in terms of cargo and passenger transportation. It is known that, in terms of costs, there is competition between the transportation of goods by rail and by sea – the financial costs of transportation by railway are much lower. We can say that the risk of accidents in passenger transportation is zero.

Then the Euronews correspondent asked a question of Georgian Prime Minister Georgi Kvirikashvili.

- Basically, I have the same questions I have already asked. How important is it for Georgia to participate in this strategic project?

- Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili: The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project is indeed a strategic one as it links three countries, strategic partner countries – Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. This project is an example of excellent cooperation because it links not only the economies, but also the peoples of these countries. And the more integration and cooperation, the more economic growth, trade, and the greater security in this region and beyond. The presence of our friends and brothers - the Prime Ministers of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and Ministers from Turkmenistan and Tajikistan speaks volumes about the importance of this project. The "One Belt, One Road" project connects Asia with Europe and practically develops the entire continent. Central Asia and the South Caucasus, together with Turkey, are an important link connecting the Eurasian continent. It brings more economic growth and more stability. Thank you.