23 Dec 2019 21:38

Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey to form trilateral transport, customs committees

BAKU. Dec 23 (Interfax) - Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey have agreed to speed up work to ensure full launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway transport corridor, their foreign ministers said in a joint statement following a meeting on Monday.

The ministers agreed "to accelerate full completion of the BTK project for full launch, as well as to increase the volume of cargo, to begin a passenger service, and to finalize work for increasing line capacity and eliminating infrastructural and facility shortages in order to strengthen BTK Railway and Iron Silk Road," the statement said.

Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cevusoglu stressed the need to set up a Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan committee for combined transport cooperation.

It was also agreed that Azerbaijan's State Customs Committee, Turkey's Trade Ministry, and the Georgian Tax authority will set up a joint customs committee to increase cooperation in this sphere.

The ministers also noted the need to swiftly organize a trilateral business forum to create new opportunities for their countries' entrepreneurs.

The railway transport corridor was commissioned on October 30, 2017. At present, the route is used for cargo transportation. Initially, it is expected to be able to transport up to one million passengers and 6.5 million tonnes of cargo. Annual cargo capacity is expected to further increase to 20-22 million tonnes.