Georgian, Turkish and Azerbaijani Presidents sign document on launching the building of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line


A ceremony to mark the launch of building of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line took place in the village of Marabda on November 21. President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, and President of the Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gl were attending the official ceremony.

The building of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line project also envisions the building of a 98-kilometer long railway line linking Kars with Akhalkalaki, whose 68 kilometers will be on the Turkish territory, and the rest - 30 kilometers - on the Georgian one. The reconstruction of the Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi railway line is also planned.

In his address at the ceremony the Georgian President claimed that by building this line Georgia was "cutting a transport window to Europe".

"In the full sense of the word, this is a transport window to Europe. By the way no one believed that this project would be realized, but we have managed this together with our friendly countries - Azerbaijan and Turkey," the President said, emphasizing that since the Abkhazian railway is closed down and every railway line to Russia is not in operation, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line acquired a crucial importance and that it will be the most safe way to Europe.

"Georgia is moving out of a dead-end; Georgia is getting on its feet. Our country is linking with Europe. We are linking with Istanbul, Paris, London and other European cities," the President stated, and expressed his hope that the building of the railway line will be finished earlier than it is scheduled. "Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line project is a huge project that would not only employ the Georgian citizens but would promote the development of those regions of Georgia that were virtually left behind the country's economic life. Implementation of this project means that much more money will be invested in the country, and a big part of the Chinese cargo will be going via Georgia," the President stated, adding that the implementation of similar huge projects was possible only by means of such a cooperation and mutual understanding.

"Georgia is becoming a part of Europe not only from the cultural and historical standpoint, but from the geographical point of view. I believe that the building of the railway line will be finished by the end of my second term of presidency and I will be its first passenger," the President stated.

In his address the President of the Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gl referred to this fact as historic and stated that this railway will bring happiness to the Georgian, Turkish and Azerbaijani people. "The railway line will bring our countries happiness, it has a great force to change the history," said the Turkish President, adding that many people were skeptical about this project. He also emphasized that by the implementation of this project, a historic Silk Road will be brought to life and China will be connected with Great Britain. He deemed the involvement of Kazakhstan very important for the implementation if this project.

"The project will promote the economic development and the improvement of living standards in all the three countries. I believe that many important projects will be implemented I the Caucasus region," the Turkish President said.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev stated that this railway had eternally linked together Georgian, Azerbaijani and Turkish people. He particularly underscored that regardless of impediments the governments of all the three countries found the resources and launched implementation of the project that seemed impossible several years ago.

President Aliyev expressed his hope that building of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line will further develop the countries' friendly relationships. By the end of the ceremony the Presidents signed a document on the launching of building the railway line.

The same day the Georgian-Turkish business-forum was held at Sheraton Metechi Palace where agreements on free trade and double taxation had been signed. The forum was attended by the Turkish and Georgian Presidents, economic development ministers and other high officials.

"Today we are signing an agreement on free trade that seemed impossible to these days. From Now on Georgia will be able to export its produce to the world's one of the rapidly developing Turkish market at a time when Georgia's main export market in Russia has been closed down," the Georgian President said at the business-forum and thanked the Turkish government for support and friendship. President Saakashvili said that Tbilisi was no longer a dead-end and Georgia was developing. As he said the launch of building the Georgian section of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line meant that Tbilisi was regaining the role of a central point of the Silk Road.

"This railway will link us with every capital city of Europe. Georgia is developing and we will leave everyone behind. No one will impede our development as it seemed to some people few months and days ago," the President said.

Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan will be a one big free trade zone.

As the Georgian President said at the Georgian-Turkish business forum, the leaders of all three countries share the vision that Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey should form a big economic unity.

"The Turkish market will be open for every Georgian entrepreneur and citizen," claimed Minister of Economic Development of Georgia Giorgi Arveladze at the business-forum. "This implies a serious economic partnership between the two countries. This is a very good incentive which is very important for Turkish-Georgian relationship," Mr. Arveladze added.

At the Georgian Parliament the President of Georgia and the President of Turkey had a face-to-face meeting, after which the presidents held a joint press conference. At the press conference the Georgian president discussed the importance of an agreement signed on free trade and double taxation, stressing that since 2006 a turnover between Turkey and Georgia had increased three-fold, and during the last four years a number of passengers had increased ten-fold.

The Georgian President also talked about the Turkey's role in building the Batumi airport, stressing that if several yeas ago it was a dead-lock now there were international flights in almost every direction. As the President said the Babushera airport in Sokhumi will become a similar center.

President Saakashvili also talked about tight relations between the two countries in different fields emphasizing that in the nearest months the restoration of the Oshki cathedral will start on the Turkish territory.

At the press conference President Saakashvili also discussed the positive role Turkey was playing in the resolution of the conflict in Abkhazia.

President Saakashvili at the joint press conference stated that Turkey was playing a positive role in the resolution of regional conflicts, emphasizing that the Turkish government had officially banned the purchase of any property on the Abkhazian territory and investing any money in its economy.

"This is the decision of a true friend, that supports peaceful resolution of the conflict," the President said.

According to the Turkish President, Turkey supports Georgia's territorial and political unity, claiming that the visit of Sergei Baghap, de-factor president of Abkhazia, had been cancelled at the decision of the Government of Turkey.

During the meeting with the Turkish President Mikheil Saakashvili also discussed the issue of inviting Turkish observers to monitor the elections.

While talking at the press conference about democracy in Georgia, the President Saakashvili emphasized that Georgia was as a democratic country as Turkey.

"The opposition is very active in Georgia, and free elections are held," the President said, adding that another free election will be held in the country on January 5.

By the end of the day President Saakashvili with the Turkish President visited the Black Sea University.

Press Office
of the President of Georgia