Turkey, Azerbaijan cherish long-standing bilateral ties strengthened with cooperation

Rail link corridor for Asia-Europe goods finally opens

A ceremony of signing Azerbaijan-Turkey agreements was held with participation of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the sixth meeting of the Azerbaijan-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council in Baku on October 31.

The plan put forward is that the 846-kilometer-long railway that strategically connects Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey will play a pivotal role in the Middle Corridor as part of the greater One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. Drawing attention to the cooperation in politics, military, defense, energy and tourism with Azerbaijan, Erdoğan said: "The continuous energy partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan strengthening with the addition of new pipelines demonstrate the durability and sustainability of this cooperation", referring to the ongoing Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project, which will be operational in 2018, and start delivering gas from Azerbaijan to Europe in 2020.

While addressing ceremony, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Chinese goods will reach Europe in just 12 to 15 days through BTK route.

"The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project was put into operation yesterday".

The rail link between Azerbaijan and Georgia was modernized under the project, which was launched in 2007.

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The inauguration ceremony draw a host of dignitaries, including the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Uzbekistan.

A railway worker in Agstafa, Azerbaijan.

Initially the railway is expected to carry almost 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight annually before unlocking a freight transportation potential of up to 50 million tons per year. Based on current cargo flows the company said it expects to re-route at least two million tonnes of existing cargo flows (principally dry cargo now transported by truck) between Turkey, the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia. Azerbaijan and Armenia are in an unresolved conflict over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Several European countries have expressed an interest in this project and Azerbaijan is in talks with them", Aliyev said, adding Kazakhstan and other countries in Central Asia were interested in transporting their goods via the BTK.

Strengthening Turkey increases Azerbaijan's strength, noted the president.

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