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Stronger economic and political ties

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, December 22
Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has paid an official visit to Turkey after the invitation of his Turkish counterpart to attend the opening ceremony of the Eurasia Tunnel, a 5.4km long tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait linking the historic European peninsula with the motorway network on the Asian side.

The event came a day after the Russian Ambassador to Turkey was shot dead by a Turkish policeman at a cultural event, stirring a large-scale international outcry.

After the opening ceremony, the Georgian and Turkish Prime Ministers held a joint press conference, late on December 20, where they highlighted the importance of joint economic projects and closer cooperation within NATO.

“Relations with Turkey are of the utmost importance for us. Georgia and Turkey have been developing cooperation in many directions for many years,” Kvirikashvili stated.

“Turkey’s support is important for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as for the NATO membership process,” the Georgian official stressed.

Kvirikashvili continued he was glad by the opportunity to participate in the opening ceremony of the Eurasia Tunnel.

“The Tunnel connects Asia and Europe and creates new transportation opportunities. The aim of Turkey and Georgia, together with our partners, is to take an active part in the restoration of the Silk Road, the ancient route connecting Europe with Asia,” Kvirikashvili stated.

Kvirikashvili also highlighted that he “strongly condemned” the series of terrorist attacks occurring in Turkey in the recent past and expressed solidarity with the families of the victims, as well as the people and authorities of the Republic of Turkey.

Binali Yildirim, the Turkish Prime Minister, stressed his country would continue to support Georgia's aspirations to join NATO and the EU.

“Turkey has always supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and will continue to do so. We believe that existing conflicts should be resolved peacefully, within internationally recognised borders,” Yildirim said.

The TRT Haber news channel also citied Yildirim as saying that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway will be put into operation in the first quarter of 2017.

The media reported the Turkish PM noted that the BTK project is nearing completion.

The BTK railway is being constructed on the basis of the Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement.

The peak capacity of the railway will be 17 million tons of cargo per year. At the initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo."On behalf of the Government of Georgia, I strictly condemn the series of terrorist attacks occurring in Turkey in the recent past and express solidarity with the families of the victims, people and authorities of the Republic of Turkey" noted H.E. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia in his conversation with H.E. Binali Yildirim, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey held at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul today.

Discussions between the pair were focused on the significance of the strategic partnership between the two countries. It was noted at the meeting that the Republic of Turkey and Georgia have been developing cooperation in various directions with a shared effort for a great number of years. The parties spoke about the significance of the Eurasia Tunnel Project, which is being officially launched today. In the opinion of the Prime Minister of Georgia, the tunnel connecting the continents of Europe and Asia creates new transport opportunities and gives rise to a significant role of the initiative with a revisiting concept on the Silk Road. Focus has been made on the current trade and economic relations existing between the two countries and prospects for their further advancement. The hosting Prime Minister invited his visiting colleague and delegation of Georgia to a business lunch after the official meeting in Istanbul.