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Who profits from re-opening of Abkhaz railway?

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 5
The Abkhaz railway was closed in 1992. Talk of reopening the railway often triggers debate in Georgia.

The Georgian Dream authorities reject accusations of them negotiating with Russia over opening the railway.

However, Armenia is very much interested in reopening the railway, as the Abkhaz railway would connect it with Russia.

At the beginning of 2006, under the previous government, the Georgian side held negotiations with Armenia and Russia. The talks aimed at working on a common multi-million dollar project through which the Abkhaz section of the railway would be rehabilitated. However, the talks stalled.

The issue has recently been pushed forward by the Russia however. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin stated prior to his meeting with Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze a couple of days ago, that the Abkhaz Railway issue would have been discussed at the meeting, except he felt the Abkhazian authorities should also be involved in such talks.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry and Abashidze denied any detailed discussions concerning the issue.

“Georgians love speculation, theories and conspiracy,” Abashidze said.

Some analysts do not believe Abashidze’s words.

The president’s former advisor in the foreign policy field Vano Machavariani claims that Armenia is very much motivated to push the issue forward.

“When Russia occupies 20% of our territories, when we have no diplomatic relations with the country and each issue might become problematic, we should refrain from such steps,” Machavariani stated, noting that the reopening of the railway will damage Georgian-Azeri relations and will be a serious blow for the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway route.

Analyst Elene Khoshtaria thinks that one more strategic connection with Russia might result in a fatal outcome for Georgia in the case of a confrontation.

“We can consider such projects when Russia starts acting like a civilized country,” Khoshtaria said.

Fellow analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili believes that if Georgia gets something tangible from the talks, like the return of Georgian IDPs, the issue should be discussed.

The analyst believes that the Georgian side should sell such projects at a very high price.

“As a rule, we sell out strategic objects at a very low price. We also failed to gain much profit when we approved Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organization.”

“When it comes to Georgian-Azeri relations, Azerbaijan always sets it own interests before the interests of its strategic partners, and why should we think about Baku’s interest in the first place?” the analyst said.