Photo Credit: EADily Agency
On October 30, 2017, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, along with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Georgia’s Prime-minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, and Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov attended the opening ceremony of the long-delayed Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway. “The opening of the railway is of historic and strategic significance,” Aliyev said at the ceremony in the Caspian port city of Alat, south of Baku, to mark the departure of the first trains. In fact, the opening of the new railway provides an alternative route to existing rail services carrying goods from Asia to Europe.
BACKGROUND: The BTK railway, totaling 826 kilometers in length, is intended to complete a transport corridor linking Azerbaijan to Turkey (and thereby linking Central Asia and China to Europe) by rail. The railway is constructed on the basis of a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement. At the initial stage, it will have a capacity of one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo per year, projected to reach 17 million tons of cargo per year by 2023. Starting in Baku, the trains will stop in Tbilisi, pass through gauge-changing facilities in Akhalkalaki, and terminate in north-east Turkey. Continue reading
The Georgian coastal city of Batumi hosted, on May 23, a trilateral meeting of the defense ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia (Azertac, May 23). This trilateral cooperation format was inaugurated in 2012, during a ministerial meeting in Trabzon, Turkey. As expected, a new military memorandum was signed during the Batumi meeting: the three sides pledged to boost military ties as well as increase cooperation in the fields of military education and military medicine, counterterrorism (including the protection of pipelines and railways), and joint large-scale military exercises (APA, May 23). “Our cooperation in the field of defense contributes to strengthening security, peace and economic development,” Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov told reporters in Batumi (Azertac, May 23). Continue reading
On 5th of May, following a private trilateral meeting in Qabala city, Azerbaijani Defence Minister, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov, Georgian Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, and Turkish National Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz agreed to hold joint military exercises on enhancing the combat readiness of the three countries armed forces in order to achieve the further development of trilateral cooperation on regional security. Simultaneously, the trilateral military activities, which arose huge concerns in neighboring Armenia, were mainly targeted to improve trilateral coordination on the protection of oil, and natural gas pipelines, railway projects, and the upcoming New Silk Road project. The minister of defense Zakir Hasanov mentioned that new military a memorandum would occur very soon. According to him, the memorandum, which is being prepared, will be the legal base of cooperation and allow trilateral activities to enter a new stage. Although the debates regarding the new memorandum have been delayed, Ms. Khidasheli notes that the trilateral memorandum will be signed in the upcoming ministerial meeting in Batumi, in August of 2016. Continue reading