BTK: 10 years later
2017 October 31 ( Tuesday ) 18:34:04
Ten years after the signing of the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey interstate agreement on the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, an opening ceremony of this project took place in the village of Alyat, 70 km south-west of Baku, on 30 October, which brings a new powerful impetus to the development of regional cooperation.
Undoubtedly, the implementation of this project creates the conditions for further strengthening of strategic cooperation between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and allows to revive the Great Silk Road from Europe to China. Indeed, the geopolitical partnership of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan is being consolidated by new strategic projects, gradually acquiring a systemic and irreversible character. The implementation of these strategic projects, which are of special significance both globally and regionally, increasingly binds the three friendly countries into a single transport, communication, energy and trends in the military-political and economic system.
The strategic pipelines Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum have already been laid along the intensively developing geopolitical and communication axis of Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, creating a real base for deepening the partnership of the three countries in all possible directions. Now this third major project, which is able to further strengthen the geopolitical and geo-economic importance of the new "east-west corridor" - the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. This rail service, which connects the European railway network with the Asian rail network through the Bosphorus Gulf tunnel, has an extremely political and economic significance for the whole region. It should be noted that the prospects of this project have already been evaluated by many countries.
Implementation of the BTK project, especially at the initial stage, was fraught with serious difficulties. Suffice it to recall that the US Congress at one time vetoed the financing of the project by American banks, citing this as a threat of further isolation of Armenia. The aggression of Russia against Georgia in August 2008 contributed to some deactivation of the BTK project and a slowdown in the process of its implementation. A certain negative impact on the course of the construction of the BTK was also provided by periods of tension in Turkish-Azerbaijani relations in the spring and autumn of 2009. But due to the strategic importance of the project and due to the persistence of the official circles of Ankara, Baku and Tbilisi, all these geopolitical and financial reefs were successfully overcome. In fact, the BTK project is already in action and foreshadows an even closer union of the united "geopolitical chain" of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
* The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway started in November 2008. The total length of the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku project is about 258 km, 160 of which fall on the Akhalkalaki-Marabda railroad, 68 of 98 km will pass through Turkey and 30 km in Javakheti in Georgia. The project cost of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway is $ 422 million, and taking into account the accompanying infrastructure, $ 600 million.
* Work on the construction of the Georgian section of the railway is carried out by the Azeri company "Azerinshat Service". For the construction of the Georgian part of the railway, Azerbaijan allocated a $ 200 million loan to the Georgian Marabda-Karsi Railway LLC for a period of 25 years at 1% per annum.
* Construction work for the BTK project completed by 2017. At the first stage after the completion of the construction of the railway, it is planned that up to one million passengers and about 6 million tons of cargo will be transported annually. In a short time, the total number of passengers carried by BTK will increase to 3 million, and cargo - up to 18 million tons.