TBILISI (Reuter)–A proposed new rail link between Turkey and former Soviet Georgia will be put up for tender in September–Turkey’s State Minister of Economic Relations said Thursday.
The proposed $300 million link will connect Kars in eastern Anatolia and the Georgian capital–Tbilisi.
Construction is expected to take at least one year.
"The construction of this route should become the main incentive for the further development of our bilateral trade relations," Ayfer Yilmaz told a news conference.
She said that a joint working group would discuss the main conditions of the tender at a meeting at the end of June.
The railroad is a key part of a proposed Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor. Turkey has no rail link with Georgia at present and surface roads in Georgia are in an advanced state of disrepair after years of neglect.
She said Georgia was in an ideal position to act as a link between Turkey and the oil resources of Azerbaijan and natural gas resources of Turkmen’stan. "The geopolitical position of neighboring Georgia is of exceptional importance," she said. Saying that Turkey was interested in long-term investment in Georgia–Yilmaz also said her government was seriously considering joint projects in natural resource development–agriculture and construction.
"We intend to evoke the interest of our businessmen in joint projects in different branches of the Georgian economy–such as the banking system–energy sector–light industries and the food industry," she said.
She said the two sides were in talks on concluding an agreement eliminating double taxation–which she said would benefit trade between Georgia and Turkey–one of Tbilisi’s main trading partners.