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Georgia receives first cargo train from China

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 15
Georgia received the first cargo train from China on December 13, which officially opened the Silk Railway project.

The train departed the Lianyungang terminal in China's far east several days ago and travelled through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and will soon arrive in Turkey after passing through Georgia.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, together with the diplomatic corps and other officials, met the train in Georgia.

“Our country regains its historical mission which it had for centuries,” Prime Minister of Georgia Gharibashvili declared at Tbilisi Central station where the first transit train arrived from China.

According to him, this day is of historical importance for Georgia.

“Today we start to contribute to the international wellbeing. The Silk Road has been a significant ground route connecting Europe and Asia,” the PM said.

According to the PM, the time of shipping cargo from China to Europe will now be significantly reduced, and the Silk Road “will allow us to conduct shipping cheaper and faster”.

“We can receive freight in 8-10 days from China and send it on to Europe in 3-5 days,” Gharibashvili said.

He said the project idea belongs to the President of China.

“We started working on the issue two years ago. I presented the initiative at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on Georgia’s involvement in the project. We held the Silk Road Forum which was attended by 1000 guests from 32 countries, and 500 representatives arrived from China. It was a successful beginning. I would like to state that our relations with China have deepened over the last two years. I paid a visit to China where we finally decided to launch negotiations on free trade. Several days ago, the Minister of Economics of Georgia signed a memorandum on starting the negotiations,” Gharibashvili said.

“We are ready to strengthen cooperation with Georgia within the frames of the Silk Road economic zone as well as relations in humanitarian fields,” the acting Ambassador of China said at the event devoted to the arrival of the first Chinese transit train in Georgia.

“First of all, I would like to congratulate you that the freight train has successfully arrived in happened as a result of the initiative raised by the Chinese President two years ago. I would like to thank the Georgian government on behalf of the Chinese Embassy for their contribution to the project. I would also like to emphasise that the train’s arrival has connected China and the countries of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Europe,” Jiao Hui Sini said.

On this note, the Ambassador of the United States to Georgia, Ian Kelly, has told Georgian reporters that Georgia fulfilled a very important role in terms of providing a connection between Europe and China.

“I think it is a very important project. It provides a link between Europe and China and Georgia has a very important role in providing this,” Kelly said.

“The economy is global. There are companies like DHL, FedEx, that are looking for new and faster routes to the west from China, and this is important for Georgia’s development as Georgia will fulfil a transit hub role,” the U.S. Ambassador said.