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EU commissioner on Baku–Tbilisi–Akhalkalaki–Kars railway

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Friday, February 8
The EU will not support the Baku–Tbilisi–Akhalkalaki–Kars railway project unless it is “inclusive and regional,” EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner said on a trip to the South Caucasus this week.

“The Commission has always stressed that it would support, both politically and financially, transport routes having an inclusive and regional character. This does not seem to be the case of the Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway, at the least for the time being,” Azerbaijani news agency Today.AZ quotes Ferrero-Waldner as saying.

The railway, which President Mikheil Saakashvili billed as “a geopolitical revolution” at a ceremony inaugurating its construction last year, involves Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey but leaves out Armenia.

The West has criticized the project for isolating Armenia, and the US congress passed a bill banning American companies from working on the project under pressure from the Armenian lobby in Washington.

A consulting council on the railway project is due to hold a session in Georgia on February 12 to discuss the project’s 2008 budget.