Azerbaijan Rejects Cooperating With Armenia Over Re Opening Railroad

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenia is ready to revitalize the Baku-Yerevan-Nakhichevan railroad without any preliminary conditions–Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said in a recent television appearance.

The minister also said that the European Union shares Armenia’s position on the railroad. Armenia deems that it is necessary to start small-scale cooperation with on different issues–which will facilitate a quick political settlement of the Karabakh conflict–while Azerbaijan links this issue with the resolution of political problems.

Oskanian said that the issue of re-opening the railroad was discussed 6 months ago within the framework of the EU’s TRACECA program when an EU representative visited the region. Azerbaijan demanded that the territories lying south of Karabakh–the regions of Fizuli–Jebrahil and Zangelan–be returned in exchange for the resumption of the railroad operation Project the issue of re-opening the railroad. In reply–Armenia offered a compromise option: to create a 3-5 kilometer security zone along the railroad to ensure its uninterrupted operation.

Armenia and Karabakh will ensure the railroad security as these territories are currently administered by Armenia’s. It is not excluded that the EU may have its civil presence. However–Azerbaijan rejected that proposal.

"Azerbaijan continues to reject any cooperation and links it to the Karabakh settlement. Azerbaijan’s similar approach is unacceptable to the EU. The EU and the US insist on the development of regional cooperation and establishment of a favorable atmosphere without linking it to the Karabakh settlement," Oskanian said.

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