ANKARA: China Joins Kars-Tbilisi-Baku Railway Project

China Joins Kars-Tbilisi-Baku Railway Project
By Erdal Sen, Anka

Zaman Online, Turkey
Aug. 26, 2006

zaman.com

Seen as an important bridge for the transfer of energy resources from
Central Asia and the Caucuses to the rest of the world, Turkey is
taking significant steps toward reinforcing its strategic position
in the world.

With the construction of the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway, originally
brought to the agenda in 1960, Turkey will become a major transfer
route between Asia and Europe.

Regarding the project, scheduled for launch in 2007, Zaman conducted
an interview with Turkish Minister of Transport Binali Yildirim,
who revealed that Kazakhstan and China have also joined the project.

When completed, the project will be a modern version of the Silk
Road, enabling a person in Kars to reach Shanghai or Hong Kong via
Kazakhstan.

The project, which will be linked to the Marmaray Project, will permit
trains departing from Britain to reach China via Turkey non-stop.

The railroad venture will be completed in two years time and will
transport 20 million tons of cargo annually.

Indicating that the former controversy between Turkey and Armenia
stalled the project for years, Yildirim predicted the project would
change the face of the region to a great extent, as well as improving
general conditions.

Yildirim stressed that Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey were working
together to overcome the difficulties negatively affecting the
region’s economy.

"The project will establish a direct link between Turkey and
Azerbaijan. It is crucial that all shipping in the region will reach
Europe and Asia via Turkey," explained Yildirim.

Railway to Cost $250 million

The transport minister informed Zaman that Turkey would be responsible
for the construction of the 76-kilometer branch that leads to the
Georgian border, while Georgia will undertake the construction of 25
kilometers of track within its borders.

Turkey’s portion of the total cost of the railway project is expected
to total $250 million when completed.

The project was previously shelved due to former Treasury Minister
Kemal Dervis’s refusal to guarantee funding.

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