7/28/2008

Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan launch project to revive ‘Silk Road’ on rails

Hurriyet English - Leaders of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan launched a railway project between the three countries, and laid the foundation of the first 76 kilometers of the railway. Turkish president stated that the project is open to ‘all other regional countries’, implying Armenia. At a railway station in the eastern Turkish border town of Kars, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili and Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Turkish section of the railway, which is worth $290 million.. The three countries are already linked by the BP-led Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas line but trade links between Turkey and the Caucasus region are limited. The Ozgun Yapi-Celikler joint venture won the tender held last September for the construction of the 76 km (47 mile) Turkish stretch of the railway, with a bid of 289.8 million USD, which was the lowest of the 14 bids. The railroad is expected to become operational in 2011 and carry 1 million passengers along with 6.5 million tons of cargo annually, forming a key transport connection between Asia and Europe, officials said. It is considered very important as it will provide the Central Asian republics, world’s new oil and natural gas centers, with an uninterrupted railway link.

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