Baku, 16 November, 2016 – Text of the Lapis-Lazuli Transit and Transport Route Agreement was finalized between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and it is ready for signing. It will provide the shortest route for Afghanistan to the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the European Market.
The draft agreement was finalized at the 4th technical meeting between the delegations of the five nations in Azerbaijan.
The agreement focuses on the custom facilities, easing visa processing and facilitating the transactions of goods.
The Route will cut down the transaction cost of commercial goods between the regional countries. The Lapis Lazuli Route is a lynchpin in reviving the ancient Silk Road by connecting South Asia to Central Asia and then to Europe, where Afghanistan serves as the connecting bridge.
Its name comes from the fact that Afghanistan’s lapis lazuli and other semiprecious stones were exported through this route to Caucasus, Russia, Europe, the Balkans and Northern Africa over 2,000 years ago. Lapis Lazuli Route runs from Turqundi in western Herat province of Afghanistan to Turkmenbashi of Turkmenistan which arrives in Baku, capital city of Azerbaijan, after passing the Caspian Sea. It connects Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, and also the ports of Poti and Batumi of Georgia. The Corridor then connects cities of Kars and Istanbul at the Bosphorus of Turkey and finally ends in Europe.
The significance of the Lapis Lazuli Route was highlighted by the representatives of the concerned countries in the first technical working group meeting of Lapis Lazuli Corridor held in Turkmenistan on 15 November 2014. It was followed by the second technical meeting in Tbilisi in August 2015 and the third meeting in Ankara on February 2016.
The Route is the shortest, less expensive, and secure passage connecting Caucasus and Central Asia. It seeks to improve and streamline transport infrastructure and customs procedures, increase trade, create employment opportunities and bolster economic ties between the concerned nations benefitting from this trade route.