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Prospects of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railways

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, October 15
Georgian political analyst Ivliane Khaindrava thinks that Turkish-Armenian border opening might decrease the need for Georgia’s transit capability. He suggests that this will put certain planned transport communication projects in question, for instance, the construction of the Yerevan-Batumi motorway or the Baku-Tbilisi-Akhalkalaki-Kars railway. According to Russian newspaper Vremia Novostei President Ilham Aliev recently made an order to decrease the financing of the Georgian segment of this railway from USD 100 million to USD 40 million. Initially Azerbaijan was ready to loan Georgia up to USD 250 million to complete this segment.

It is significant that this reduction has taken place while Tbilisi is asking Baku to increase its financing. The Armenian media has immediately given it the interpretation that Baku is no longer interested in constructing this railway. If we go deeper in this issue however this should not be the case, because so far there are no signs of any serious breakthrough in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and therefore Baku should be more interested in the construction of this railway which bypasses Armenia, which has occupied Karabakh.

There is also speculation that The Kremlin is trying to delay the construction of this railway. However Baku categorically denies this, and says that the reduction in financing is explained by the general situation in the world and the need to finance other projects as well.

Meanwhile the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Akhalkalaki-Kars railway is proceeding very slowly. There are certain geological problems to address, such as landslides where tunnels should be built and so on. The line should nevertheless be ready by 2012.