15:52 GMT +320 May 2019
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    Mikhaeil Saakashvili's news conference in Kiev

    Pie in the Sky: Saakashvili Wants to Take New Silk Road Away From Russia

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    Odessa governor Mikheil Saakashvili has unveiled an ambitious plan to divert China’s New Silk Road economic corridor to run across Ukrainian territory.

    In an interview with the Kiev-based Channel 5 TV, Georgia’s ex-president said that the trade flows of China’s transit and economic corridor, to run from Beijing to Berlin, should pass through his region’s seaport of Ilyichevsk.

    “All we need to do to make this happen is build an auto road to Reni (a town in southwestern Ukraine), erect a bridge across the Dniester estuary and enact an autobahn concession law,” Saakashvili said.

    “Going through Russia the Chinese goods will take 30 days to reach the EU and only nine via the Ilyechevsk seaport… All the necessary infrastructure is already there… There is huge traffic out there that we can divert here. From here we’ll build a highway to Reni. Then we’ll build a big bridge across the Dniester estuary to make sure that Bessarabia is not taken away… We are already working on this,” Saakashvili explained.

    He also promised to improve the road to Kiev and to remove obstacles in the form of "bribery, lawlessness and oligarchic interests."

    It had earlier been reported that Chinese banks were ready to invest into infrastructure projects in Ukraine as part of the New Silk Road initiative.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans in 2013 to construct a new Silk Road for international trade, stretching from the eastern sprawl of Shanghai and Beijing through Xinjiang to Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Afghanistan before snaking into central and Western Europe.

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    Tags:
    infrastructure projects, Odessa route, New Silk Road, Xi Jinping, Mikheil Saakashvili, Ukraine
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