The BTK project is part of a larger strategy of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev to diversify the country's oil-rich economy and turn it into a trade and logistics hub in Eurasia.
Starting in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, trains will stop in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, pass through gauge-changing facilities in the Georgian town of Akhalkalaki and end their journey in the Kars, Turkey.
A newly built railway line, which connects Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia in Azerbaijan's capital city of Baku, has been inaugurated Monday, linking central Asia and Europe through the Caucasus region.
While the line offers a shorter route for transporting Chinese goods to Europe by rail, "the competition is really tough", said Akif Mustafayev, the permanent representative in Azerbaijan of the intergovernmental commission of Traceca, an EU-backed transport programme.
"Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is part of the Great Silk Road and it is important that we have implemented this project using our own funds", he added, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway promises to provide an economic boost to the region.
The new railway will help expand the geography of freight traffic and reach the capacity of 2 million containers of cargo per year through the territory of Kazakhstan. "By this railway cargo and passengers will be transported nonstop from London to China", noted Erdogan during the official opening ceremony in Baku. The initial plan was to open the railway in 2010 but it was delayed several times, mainly for financial reasons. The participating guests witnessed the first trains decorated with the flags of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan departing from the railway station.
"This project will bring our countries closer to each other".
The railway line is also created to become a key part of the southern route of the emerging New Silk Road network of trade and transport corridors between China and Europe.
Kvirikashvili said the project was a "bridge between Asia and Europe".
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