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Denying deal on Abkhaz Railway

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, March 1
Georgia’s State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, denied information spread by Georgian opposition parties, as well as by Russian and Armenian media, that Georgia was ready to support the restoration of the railway passing through Abkhazia.

The restoration of the railway is very much in the interests of Russia and Armenia, as so far these two states are connected mostly by air.

“These days a lot of interpretations of our policies were spread for unknown reasons. I think a very clear statement was made on the issue. No such negotiations has been held," said Tsikhelashvili.

Several days ago, the Armenian Prime Minister said that at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia they discussed the issue of an alternative route to Lars, Georgia’s northern bordering area.

The opposition thinks that the government is considering the restoration of the railway through Abkhazia.

Analysts are unanimous in claiming that the railway has a regional connotation and it might influence change the geopolitical status of the countries.

It is agreed that there is no doubt opening of the railway is vitally important for Armenia, as through the route, the country - which is under blockade due to conflict with Azerbaijan. Activating the Abkhaz segment of the Georgian Railway, will provide a direct land connection with its ally Russia.

Azeri analysts are sure that Russia will support Armenia with weapons through the railway, and such development might affect Georgian-Azerbaijan relations.

“Azerbaijan is a strategic partner of Georgia. We are carrying out investments in Georgia, providing the country with cheap gas. All these issues should be considered and Georgians should consult with the Azeri side,” Azeri analyst Farkhan Mekhtiev suggested.

Some Georgian analysts believe that the re-opening of the railway would be positive for Georgia also, as Georgians and Abkhazians would be involved in joint economic projects that will ease the reconciliation process.

The issue is of the utmost importance, and together with economic considerations it also includes certain political risks, where each detail must be very cautiously discussed and analysed.

Georgian political and economic analysts express their concern, that if Russia and Armenia would be connected through this rout it will negatively influence the cargo turnover via sea ports of Georgia, Poti and Batumi, as currently these two ports are the main hubs for East-West (and back) connection. Georgia receives considerable benefit from this. Besides, these analysts share the concern of Azeri colleges that such moves might result in deteriorating Georgian-Azeri relations.