One more railway for the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars and Zangezur corridor prospects

25.05.23 12:30

"The New Silk Road through the South Caucasus and Central Asia continues to be saturated with infrastructure projects. In addition to the railways through Kazakhstan, linking China to the Caspian Sea and the South Caucasus, another railway will be built through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.


 The railway will start at the Torugart Pass in Kyrgyzstan, where there is already a railway line from China, and run north through the settlements of Arpa and Makmal to Jalalabad, where it will connect with the Uzbekistan railway network. Further on, either through Kazakhstan or through Turkmenistan, this railway will then "exit" to the Caspian Sea. And from there, through the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad and eventually through the railway through the Zangezur corridor, the new main line will become another route connecting China and Europe.


The agreement to build a new road through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan was originally concluded on 14 September 2022 on the margins of the SCO summit held in Samarkand. However, implementation of the project will start now after the Central Asia-China summit held in Xi'an, China on May 18-19, 2023.


In Xi'an, China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan signed a trilateral document on concrete steps to build the railway. The new document will define project implementation steps such as developing detailed design, studies and defining an investment and financing model. The war in Ukraine is still "blocking" transit through Russia, and the interest of the world economy in a railway bypassing Russia is only increasing.  There is no doubt that there will be no problem with the timely financing of the project.


It is very symbolic that the summit to launch the construction of the new railway took place in Xi'an, the city where the Great Silk Road began in ancient times. In addition to the Chinese leadership, the summit was attended by the presidents of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. It was the first full-scale meeting between China and the five Central Asian leaders for 31 years. And new railway routes were a key focus of the summit.


The New Railway Route through Central Asia and the South Caucasus, as well as China's interest in it, make the efforts of provocateurs to foment separatism and conflict along the New Silk Road very strange and doomed to failure. Especially since many of these provocateurs, the same Armenian "Artsakh" separatists, are linked to the Kremlin. Obviously, these provocations will be strongly opposed by China, although the Kremlin and the pro-Russian Armenian lobby somehow think that Beijing will continue to turn a blind eye to their attempts to "blow up" entire regions with separatism and provoke new wars.


What China is interested in is that transit through Central Asia should be "stable and secure". As a result, those who would seek to incite wars along the new transit routes are, by definition, deprived of the support of a country that they have somehow enlisted as an 'ally'. China has repeatedly stressed that it is against separatism and border changes as a matter of principle, and this is objective if only because separatism threatens China itself.



Alexandre Chkheidze

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