President Ashraf Ghani at a ceremony in Herat on Thursday inaugurated the Lapis Lazuli Corridor where he said the route enables Afghanistan to send its products to Europe and other parts of the world.
The president said Afghanistan is in favor of connectivity policy and that the inauguration of the Lapis Lazuli Corridor is a milestone in this regard.
He said that he appreciates the efforts by Afghanistan’s international partners including Turkmenistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan for the project.
Ghani said Afghans should celebrate the inauguration of Lapis Lazuli Corridor as they celebrated the inaugural of the Salma Dam.
The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was signed in October 2017 between Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The route begins in Afghanistan’s northern Aqina port in Faryab province and Torghandi in western Herat province and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan.
From there it will cross the Caspian Sea and will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti.
It will then connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe.
The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was finalized after three years of talks and was signed during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
The first shipment that will be sent through the route on Thursday includes more than 175 tons of cotton, dried fruit and sesame.
According to ACCI statistics, Afghanistan's annual import volume from Europe and Turkey through Iran is $900 million but the country’s exports to European nations totals $6 million a year.
The Lapis Lazuli corridor connects Afghanistan through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia to the Black Sea and ultimately through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe. The Lapis Lazuli corridor is a historic corridor. Almost 2,000 years ago, lapis lazuli stone was exported from Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan through this route to Europe.