By Arife Yildiz Unal
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey will be the gateway to Europe as part of the New Silk Road trade corridor envisioned by China, Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) Association executive said on Friday.
The New Silk Road refers to the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, which was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. This initiative aims to connect Eurasian countries with China through infrastructure, trade and investment.
TITR Association Deputy Chair Cavid Gurbanov also told Anadolu Agency that all deficiencies in the Trans-Caspian corridor would be removed and the project would be completed on time.
The Trans-Caspian corridor covers Azerbaijani capital Baku, Georgian capital Tbilisi and eastern Turkish province of Kars; a railway line connecting all three cities opened on Oct. 30, 2017.
Kars is 382 kilometers (237.3 miles) away from Tbilisi.
Separately, the New Silk Road's route from the east will be China, Kazakhstan, Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
TITR Association Chairman Kanat Alpysbaev told Anadolu Agency the Trans-Caspian corridor was finalized when the Kars-Baku-Tbilisi Railway Line opened in late October 2017.
Drawing attention to participation of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) in the TITR Association, Alpysbaev said the load carried on this corridor would be boosted to four million tons from almost two million tons carried in 2017.
He said this goal could be achieved through Turkey's participation, adding that a million-ton load is expected to be carried via the country.
Turkey is connected to the Trans-Caspian corridor since the country has strategic partnerships in the Caucasian region and Central Asia, especially in terms of geography, he said.
"A large part of the four million tons to be carried on this corridor will be Kazakhstan's cereal products. Products such as clothing, textile and construction materials will be carried from Turkey on this corridor, which will be used for coal and metal carriage in future," he said.
TCDD Director General and Chairman of the Board Veysi Kurt said the Trans-Caspian corridor is an important part of the historic Silk Road.
Kurt said Turkey will also have a voice in the international association, which is composed of railway, harbor and naval operator authorities in the Caspian Sea.
He added that international transportation and logistics could be done on the corridor, which connects China to Europe, Russia to South Asia and Africa.
Turkey became a permanent member of TITR Association when it signed a protocol on Feb. 16.
The country has become one of the major players of the route described as the Trans-Caspian corridor, which covers Baku, Tbilisi and Kars railway line; it is expected to ease transportation between China and Europe, Russia and South Asia, and Africa.