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Doubtful Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway2012-12-25 15:49
Passions around the announcement of the new authorities of Georgia on the possibility of opening the railway communication with Russia through Abkhazia have not subsided, while another resonant statement by the government has sounded. Bidzina Ivanishvili stated the project of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway could be disadvantageous for Georgia. Should we now expect the closing of the project?
Very little time has passed since the announcement of the resumption of railway communication with Russia, which had caused protest in certain circles both in Tbilisi and Baku. Georgian opponents of this initiative by the State Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili indicate that Georgia has no security guarantees, and Russia can use the railway for military purposes. Azerbaijani opponents speak about the danger of arms supplies to Armenia, which is practically in a state of war with Azerbaijan.
Not allowing their opponents to come round, the Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili makes another statement - also about the railway, but this time about the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. "Construction of the railway causes many questions", Ivanishvili said a few days ago. "I may have to ask these questions during my upcoming visit to Azerbaijan. We'll gently explain our friendly country that at some stage this program may appear unuseful for us, and that the issue may require improvement". According to Ivanishvili, it would be easier to address these issues prior to the construction of the railway. "Now we need to respect the commitments made by the previous government to our neighboring countries", said the Prime Minister.
Ivanishvili's statement provoked a protest, especially among his opponents, who suspect the Prime Minister of deciding to suspend the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars. His rival - President Mikheil Saakashvili - is the first who has responded. He called the statement by the Prime Minister "disturbing Georgia's European integration course". "I am very concerned about the allegations that the construction of the railway may be suspended", said Saakashvili. "It's one of the most important projects since the country gained independence, and it allows Georgia connecting rail links with the European countries bypassing Russia". The president demanded a public debate on the issue.
Experts note that, apparently, Ivanishvili is not going suspend the project. Rather, it is about to clarify the economic details, since the Prime Minister intends to derive both the political and economic benefits from this project.