Oskanian Addresses Kars-Baku Railway at BSEC Meeting

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–During the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization’s Ministerial meeting Tuesday, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said it was unacceptable to create a transport circle by withdrawing certain member-countries and ignoring an already-existing transport means, referring to the proposed railway project that would run from Baku, sidestep Armenia and via Akhalkalak, Georgia end at Kars, Turkey. The foreign ministry press service reported that while Oskanian acknowledged that despite existing issues, the BSEC member state had many elemen’s in common, but raised objections over the proposed Baku-Kars railway project, given that Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan are all members of the BSEC. The US Senate and House of Representatives have rejected US funding for the railway project, specifically highlighting that leaving Armenia out of the project was counter to US policy of promoting neighborly relations. Azerbaijan is going to provide half of the funds necessary for the construction of Kars-Akhalkalak-Tbilisi-Baku railway, announced Azeri president Ilham Aliyev. "At present none of the issues of the region can be resolved without Azerbaijan’s participation or its approval. Azerbaijan is an independent state and is free to undertake any project it desires. We not only participate in several project we are also the initiators," added Aliyev The construction of the Kars-Akhalkalak-Tbilisi-Baku railway is expected to launch in January 2007. During his presentation, Oskanian also welcomed the addition of Bulgaria and Romania to the BSEC saying the new addition will create new opportunity for close cooperation between BSEC and EU taking into consideration mutual economic benefits.. A joint declaration was presented at the conclusion of the summit and its chairmanship was shifted to Serbia from Russia. Within the framework of the session the Armenian Foreign Minister met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and discussed with him issues on bilateral relations.

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