Cyclists of Turkish-Afghan Friendship tour return home
A hero's welcome was given to a group of Afghan cyclists in the capital Kabul, as they returned on June 19 after pedaling all the way to Turkey on the historical Lapis Lazuli corridor.
The tour aimed to revive the 2,000-year-old Lapis Lazuli corridor, an international route linking Turkey and Afghanistan via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
“As a citizen of Afghanistan, I played my part in highlighting the significance of this historical trade route and spreading the message of love, peace and harmony,” Mohammad Siddiq, the group leader, told reporters in Kabul.
“We were warmly welcomed by the Afghan and Turkish officials in Istanbul and they assured their full support for future endeavors," Siddiq added.
The Afghan cyclists pedaled through over 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) in Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the World Peace Park in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul last week.
“Our relations are not just based on economics,” said Zakaria Barakzai, Afghan consul general in Istanbul, after the arrival of the bikers. “Our strong cultural ties come from the past.”
Named after Afghanistan's precious gemstone, the Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was finalized after three years of talks among the partner countries Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
It was signed last year during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA-VII) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.