Turkey to begin construction of Baku–Tbilisi–Kars railway

By Richard High02 July 2008

Construction of the Turkish section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will begin later this month (July) after it failed to start in June as was previously announced, according to local newspaper 24 Saati.

The Turkish section, which is about 70 km long, will connect the northeastern garrison town of Kars to the Georgian border.

Construction work on the Georgian section of the railway started last year. It is being financed by a US$ 200 million loan from Azerbaijan of over USD 200 million. The loan is payable over 25 years at a 1% annual interest rate.

Inaugurating the project last year, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said it would be a "window to Europe" for Georgia, which lost control of its rail links to Russia and beyond when the province of Abkhazia became a "break away" republic in the early 1990s. (The Republic is not recognised by any nation.)

The EU and US, concerned the railway will not connect Armenia to the wider region, are not backing the project financially.

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