"Kars is part of a big Silk Road and it's important that we have implemented this project using our own funds", Turkish president Mr Tayyip Erdogan said at the inauguration ceremony, which was also attended by Azerbaijan's president Mr Ilham Aliyev and Georgian prime minister Mr Giorgi Kvirikashvili. "This railroad will help increase the living standards of the population in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, attract more investments to these countries, and create new jobs", he stressed.
"The BTK is the shortest and most reliable route connecting Europe with Asia", said Aliyev. 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.
Long-awaited transport corridor for goods carried between Asia and Europe was inaugurated on Monday near Baku as first goods train rolled on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway track.
The opening of the 846km route marks the completion of a 10-year project to provide an alternative to existing rail services carrying cargo from Asia to Europe that go via Russian Federation and Iran.
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This decision led to quick criticism that without new funding, what Trump had done amounted to little more than a gesture. The declaration is limited, falling far short of the steps experts say is necessary to combat the crisis.
A memorandum of understanding on signing a preferential trade agreement between the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey was signed by Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev and his Turkish counterpart Nihat Zeybekci. At an initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo.
"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. The capacity will then reach 3 million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo in next three years.
A guard of honor was set up for the Turkish president.