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Yerevan: Baku–Akhalkalaki–Kars railway project politically motivated

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Friday, December 21
Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said at a parliamentary session on December 19 that the Baku–Akhalkalaki–Kars railway project is “politically motivated,” according to the news agency Regnum.

“Armenia proposed a cheaper project which would use the existing railway line, Kars–Gyumri,” he said, adding that the rejection of this proposal “proves that the railway project has political purposes.”

Armenia has staunchly opposed the Baku–Akhalkalaki–Kars project since its inception, and argues for the reopening the Kars–Gyumri railway, which was closed when Turkey shut its border with Armenia in 1994.

While in the past Yerevan has cited concern that the Baku–Akhalkalaki–Kars project will increase its economic isolation, on Wednesday Oskanian said this is not possible.

“Armenia’s isolation happened when the border closed. We cannot be anymore isolated than we already are,” the foreign minister stated.

Support for the project has not come from the West. Washington passed a law prohibiting US companies from financing the Baku–Akhalkalaki–Kars following pressure from the Armenian lobby. The EU does not back the project either, and would prefer to see increased transit links between Georgia’s ports and new EU members Bulgaria and Romania.

The Georgian government hopes that the construction of the railway will help stimulate the local economy in Samtskhe-Javakheti province.