ArmInfo. The restoration of direct rail connection between Armenia and Russia through the territory of Abkhazia and Georgia meets the economic interests of Yerevan and Moscow.As the "Parliamentary Newspaper" reports, during the speech in the special project "National Environment", First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Control and Rules Oleg Nilov stated.
"Restoration of the railway communication between Russia and Armenia could be in demand both in passenger transportation and in freight transportation, including rail transportation of timber and sawn timber, agricultural products, especially as this way gives us a way out to the huge Iranian market," explained deputy.
According to him, the road, naturally, must pass through the territory of Abkhazia and Georgia. Nilov believes that if take into account the fact that Armenia and Georgia have normal relations, the implementation of the project largely depends on the diplomatic efforts of Tbilisi and Yerevan. "It is very important that the railway does not arouse fears on the part of the Georgian side, however, Russian trains to Kaliningrad have been going through Lithuania for a long time, despite the uneasy relations with the Baltic state." The trains run without stopping, the cars are sealed. Such scheme may also be used here," the parliamentarian said. He is convinced that any investments in this project will pay off fairly quickly.
In turn, Armenian Ambassador to Russia Vardan Toghanyan stated that Moscow and Yerevan demonstrate to the whole world an example of good-neighborly relations, on the agenda of which there are no global problems. "We must at least maintain such relations, take into account our historical experience and modern realities. It is necessary to build up military-political, economic, cultural partnership," the diplomat stressed.
The diplomat agreed with the fact that Russia and Armenia still do not have enough cooperation and production projects. "There is cooperation at the level of natural monopolies in the field of gas and energy, but we need projects, for example, in the field of agriculture." One could attract our colleagues from Kazakhstan and Belarus, I am sure that a railway coming from Russia can also work for the interests of the Central Asian countries - a single Armenia can not be the beneficiary of this economic project, but such plans would strengthen the political component of our relations, and I wholeheartedly support this idea," the Armenian diplomat summed up.
The former military road through the Upper Lars checkpoint since the beginning of the 1990s was the only ground route providing Armenia's connection with Russia. The checkpoint is periodically closed - in the winter due to avalanches, and in the spring - due to mudflows. Prime Minister of Armenia Karen Karapetyan talked about the need to create an alternative to the "Upper Lars" road at a government meeting on January 26. Alternatively, requiring a political solution for the countries of the region, there are roads connecting Georgia and Russia through the conflict zones of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
In January 2013 the former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzin Ivanishvili considered it possible to resume the operation of the Russian-Armenian railway, which passes through Abkhazia. Then Bidzina Ivanishvili said that if all parties agree, it will be possible to open the railway.
Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said that the agreement on the mechanisms of customs administration and goods monitoring between Russia and Georgia made necessary clarity on the issue of where the customs borders of the Georgian side pass. "This is the Kazbegi region on the border with Russia, a place south of the Inguri River (beyond which the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia begins) and the neighborhood of Gori (near the border with the Republic of South Ossetia)," Karasin said in an interview with Kommersant.
Agreements on customs administration and goods monitoring mechanisms were reached after in 2011 the third president of Georgia, Mikhail Sahakashvili, lifted the veto for Russia's accession to the WTO, but only on the condition that through the territories that are not controlled by the Georgian authorities - Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region - corridors from Russia would pass, as well as the parties will invite international mediators to control the flow of goods and their marking. The choice fell on the Swiss company SGS, with which six years after the signing of the agreement, Georgia signed a contract. Russia welcomed this decision, but is not in a hurry to sign the contract.
As Georgian Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili explained, the agreement with SGS allows transportation of goods to Russia through the Tskhinvali region, which is not controlled by official Tbilisi.
According to the research of the British non-governmental organization International Alert, the reconstruction of the Abkhazian railway, which has been inoperative since 1991 on the route Sochi- Sukhumi-Tbilisi-Yerevan, will cost $ 277.5 million, which will be repaid not earlier than in 100 years. $ 251 million is required for the restoration of the 190-kilometer Abkhaz section of Psou-Inguri, while from Inguri to Zugdidi, the cost will be only $ 26.5 dollars. From Zugdidi to Tbilisi and further to Yerevan, the road works and does not need repairs. It is noteworthy that according to the official conclusions of the Abkhaz experts this amount is $ 350-400 million, while their Georgian counterparts believe that it will require no more than $ 73 million.