Transport hub connecting West and East, North and South
Politics02 November 2017, 18:26 3098
The implementation of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project was only possible through Ilham Aliyev’s political will and great efforts. This railway can be compared to the Suez canal connecting Africa to Asia due to its economic and political significance. BTK project involving Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia is also supported by the EU, the USA and Central Asian countries. Said project increases the opportunities for transporting cargo and passenger from the East to the West and reduces the cost and time spent on such services. In the initial stage the carrying capacity of BTK will be a million passenger and 6.5 million tons of cargo a year. The volume of cargo will reach 17 million tons and later 50 million tons. And the passenger capacity will reach 2 millions. BTK will travel from Baku to Turkish city of Kars in 16 to 17 hours. The route will be extended to Ankara and Istanbul and pass through La Manche and London in Europe. Through this railway, Azerbaijan will have access to international transit corridors and Turkey. It will be possible to travel to Kars and Istanbul in a day and a half and two days and a half, respectively. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will be crucial in the development of Azerbaijani economy too. Azerbaijan will make at least 50 million dollars in profits from this project in the first few years. Azerbaijan presents itself as not only a country that produces oil and gas, but also a major transit hub and logistics center connecting the East and the West, the North and the South.
MP and political commentator Sahib Aliyev spoke to "Kaspi” and said BTK has a significant economic importance. According to him, it’s not only due to the fact that this railway might carry 240 million tons of cargo between the EU and China. In addition, it will also be possible for regional countries, particularly Azerbaijan and the Central Asian countries, to transport the goods they produce: "All this, of course, increases the export potentials and opportunities of Azerbaijan, on top of bringing in transit revenues. When access to foreign markets is easier, safer and more efficient, then local entrepreunrs will benefit from these opportunities. This railway is expected to carry 1 million and later 3 million passengers. This factor will positively affect the tourism potential of the region, including Azerbaijan. This means extra income. At the same time, this railway connects Turkic states and strengthens integration between our peoples. The connection among people who share common roots will become stronger. In my opinion, the connection of Turkic states which was cut off with the establishment of Armenian state in ancestral Azerbaijani lands will be restored. It is very important, in political terms. In addition to growing Azerbaijan’s influence in the region and the world, this railway will further strengthen our independence and statehood. Implementation of such a project is also beneficial to Turkic countries located on the other side of the Caspian sea, it will strengthen their independence too and increase their opportunities for action. It is true for Turkey too. BTK makes Turkey a major player in the eyes of Europe.
This is only possible through the project implemented by Azerbaijan. On the other hand, it is expected that this railway would be extended to Nakhchevan, which would mean removing the autonomous republic from the blockade. At the same time, Nakhchevan is turning into a transit hub through BTK. Some of the cargo arriving from Iran or Iran will be transported through this route. At least, this is more advantageous in terms of transportation of goods to Iran and Turkey. These realities make projects about building railway between Armenia and Iran a history. With the realization of the BTK, Armenian dreams about becoming a transit country is forever gone".
Tahir Mirkishili, member of the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship, also spoke about the importance of the BTK, stressing that this railroad is the shortest and most reliable route connecting Europe with Asia. He said that this project is an important part of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor: "Trade relations between Europe and Asia are expanding every year. The trade volume between the European Union and China is $ 500 billion, while the volume of freight traffic is 100 million tons a year. These expanding ties also promise huge economic benefits for transit countries. At present, cargo between the European Union and China are transported via the Trans-Siberian railway from the north to the north and the Indian Ocean-Suez Canal from the south to the sea. The northern railway route is largely politically risky as it passes through the territory of Russia who has unstable relations with the EU states. The South Sea route, however, takes considerable time and can not quickly adjust to the growing dynamics of trade. In this context, there is a need for a shorter, more politically stable route in Eurasia, and a route that will boost the development of all regions".
MP stated that the treaty on the implementation of the BTK was signed in 2007 at the initiative and with the political will of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev: "Back then Armenian leadership and their patrons spared no efforts to implement another project. This project was to be Kars-Gyumru-Tbilisi. Some parts of this project was ready. But the power of Azerbaijani state and Ilham Aliyev’s influence and the economic potential of the BTK killed this project. The BTK railway has the initial capacity to carry 1 million passenger and 6.5 million tons of cargo each year. It has the potential to transfer 3 million passengers and 20 million cargo every year. BTK has been integrated to network of European railways by passing through the territory of Turkey in the West. In the East, it will extend to China through eastern ports of the Caspian sea.
Currently, the load capacity of the Kazakh port of Aktau has reached 19.5 million tons a year. At the initial stage of the Baku International Commercial Sea Port, built in Alat, is about 10 million tons of cargo. At present, the volume of foreign trade between Turkey and Georgia-Azerbaijan is $ 4.2 billion. According to preliminary estimates, the volume of trade between the three countries will reach $ 10 billion with the launch of the BTK railway".
T.Mirkishili said that with the full launch of the project, the revenue from transit of cargoes from Azerbaijan will be over $ 1 billion: "Another important international railway project, which Azerbaijan is part of, is expected to launch soon. This is a North-South international railway project that will further enhance the economic integration of this project with the BTK railway. The project will also allow Azerbaijani exporters to get access to new markets faster and cheaper, which will give a strong impetus to the country's export policy".
Aydin Huseynov, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship, also believes that the BTK is a railway and a global project of strategic importance. According to him, this project once again proves that president Ilham Aliyev conducts an independent policy: "There were forces that did not want the project to become a reality. In this project, Azerbaijan will not just be a transit country but play a leading role. The project will also contribute to the development of the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan, which is located in a geographical location connecting Europe and Asia. I believe that all the projects that serve the interests of the Azerbaijani state will continue to be implemented in the future too. There used to be obstacles hindering the implementation of the BTK railway. Despite all the difficulties, however, the project was implemented. It happened as a result of President Ilham Aliyev's political will".
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