The Silk Road of the 21st century
International Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) is a complex multi-modal transport system in countries of the region, which aims to develop economic and trade relations and transportation links between countries and regions that is a significant contribution to the revival of one of the most famous historical routes of the Silk way.
In September 1998, at a historic summit in Baku, Azerbaijan Republic, 12 TRACECA countries signed the "Basic Multilateral Agreement on International Transport for Development Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (MLA) in order to take full advantage of its geopolitical and economic opportunities. MLA became a logical continuation of inter-regional program of the European Union's TRACECA and at the same time the only legal basis for its effective implementation. After the signing of this Agreement and the establishment of the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) and its TRACECA Permanent Secretariat have new legal framework for the development and implementation of international transit traffic at a better level.
The transport corridor TRACECA is the renaissance of the Great Silk Road, one of the ancient routes in the world. The corridor starts in the Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine) and also crosses Turkey. There are route passing the Black Sea to the ports of Poti and in Georgia, further using transport network of the Southern Caucasus, and a land connection towards this region from Turkey. From Azerbaijan by means of the Caspian ferries (Baku – Turkmenbashi, Baku – Aktau) TRACECA route reaches the railway networks of Central Asian states of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. The transport networks of these states are connected to destinations in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and reach the borders of China and Afghanistan.
Development of a new transport corridor provided for efficient transportation possibilities to accommodate in its network rising freight flows from Asian – Pacific region to destinations in the Central Asia, Caucasus and Europe. This also allows to open and to enlarge markets of TRACECA countries and to connect them to the trans-European Networks.
Currently full parties of MLA are 13 countries: five countries in Europe, three South Caucasian and five Central Asian republics, each of which has its own unique history, culture, language, political and economic systems. The program developed as an independent structure that supports the development of trade relations and the integration of the economies of participating countries in the TRACECA world market transformation through organizational development of the TRACECA and its further institutionalization. Since 2009 Lithuania takes an active part in the institutions of TRACECA and has observer status in the IGC TRACECA.
Participating countries have real prospects for strengthening its role as transit states. This is facilitated by such objective factors as the geostrategic situation of the countries and the presence of a rapidly developing transport infrastructure.
Currently, new roads and railways are being built along the whole length of the TRACECA corridor. New bridges, ports and other transport infrastructure are being constructed, accompanied by simultaneous rehabilitation of the existing roads and railways, as well as bridges and ports. Corresponding unified regulatory basis and tariff rules are being developed. TRACECA countries join the international conventions and agreements. Transport infrastructure necessary for the development of multimodal transport is being established supported by adequate capacity building required for professional international transportation.