At the initiative of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Embassies of Georgia, Turkey and Kazakhstan as well as EU delegation the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) conducted a panel discussion on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project. Speakers highlighted the importance of the BTK for their respective countries as well as region and how this project can serve as a good example for the African continent.
Mr. Azad Naghiyev, Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of Azerbaijan, talked about the history of the Project. Mr Naghiyev highlighted that: "The new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail-line will emerge to become the backbone of the southern route of the emerging New Silk Road network of trade and transport corridors that are bringing together the central portions of Eurasia, the singular landmass which contains 70% of the world's economy". Mr. Naghiyev also highlighted that the BTK is probably the most secure route in the world, when the speakers were asked about potential security concerns.
All speakers pointed out that the BTK will link countries within the region, as well as link the region with the other parts of the Europe and the World; the project will result in socio-economic development of the people in the region; political stability; healthy competition; improved trade with the rest of the world; amongst other benefits.
The panel discussion was attended by the representatives of Diplomatic Corps, media, civil society organisations and representatives of the Department of International Affairs and Cooperation of South Africa.