Opening of Abkhazian railway meets the interests of all South Caucasian countries

Gita Elibekyan

Exploitation of the Abkhazian railway meets the interests of the all countries of the South Caucasus, some Georgian experts say. They consider that this will have a positive influence on the economies of those countries. The new authorities in Georgia have declared recently about the willingness to restore the railway communication with Russia interrupted 20 years ago.

“If we open our part of the railway, Abkhazia will have an alternative,” says Paata Zakareshvili, Georgia’s State Minister for Reintegration. “The railroad will serve all –Russia, Georgia, Armenia. This will increase the geopolitical role of our country. The cargoes will then be shipped not only from the east to the west, but also from the north to the south.”

“Surely, the operation of the railway will be positive for the economies of Armenia and Georgia  also as other countries of the region. The volume of commodity turnover will increase,” political analyst Georgy Areshidze says. However, he advises the Georgian authorities to be cautious and consider the issue primarily from the point of view of national security.

As for the negative reaction of the Azerbaijani side, the expert says it’s understandable. “Azerbaijan fears that the Russian military cargoes will reach Armenia this way. If the railway is really re-launched, it will bring about tension in the Georgian-Azerbaijani relations,” Areshidze notes.

It’s worth mentioning that in response to assessments of some Azerbaijani political scientists, Paata Zakareshvili said “it’s not up to Azerbaijani political scientists to decide whether the rail communication with Russian should be restored or not.”

“No Georgian government will ever question the Georgian-Armenian and Georgian-Azerbaijani relations, but it’s not going to sacrifice its interests to the benefit of other countries,” the Minister for Reintegration declared.

The railway was constructed during Tsarist times. The railway communication was suspended in 1992-1993 after the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.

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