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Georgian, Armenian ministers comment on Baku-Kars railway

28 June 2006 [00:47] - TODAY.AZ
Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili said after talks with his visiting Armenian counterpart Vardan Oskanian on June 27 that feasibility study of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is currently underway to find out whether the project is financially profitable or not.

The Armenian side is against construction of this railway route which will link Azerbaijan with Turkish city of Kars via Georgia, as a railway between Kars and Gyumri, Armenia, already exists. But currently the Kars-Gyumri railway is not operational because of the trade blockade imposed on Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan.

"Armenia's position over this issue is clear: Armenia is ready to let Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan use this railway [passing via Armenia], without Armenia's participation," Vardan Oskanian said at the press conference after talks with his Georgian counterpart.

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee supported on June 14 a proposal to ban the U.S. Export-Import Bank to develop or promote any rail connections or railway-related connections that traverse or connect Baku, Tbilisi and Kars and that specifically exclude cities in Armenia.

"We are interested in diversification of our transit routes... if this will be a commercially profitable project, the U.S. Congress will allocate funds, if not, other sources of financing will appear," the Georgian Foreign Minister said.

Some experts in Georgia say that the project needs a very detailed consideration because new railway route linking Azerbaijan with Turkey might hit Georgian ports on the Black Sea as cargo can be redirected on railway.



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