YEREVAN (Arka)—Armenia cannot become a fully-functioning member of the Eurasian Economic Union until the Abkhazian section of the South-Caucasian railway resumes operation, says Aram Safaryan, Director of Integration and Development Research and Analysis, a non-governmental organization in Yerevan. Safaryan made spoke about his assessment during a presentation of a research paper on “Russia and Armenia: Integration on the Background of the Global Crisis.”
According to Safaryan, following Russian president Putin’s meeting with the Abkhaz leader in Sochi the likelihood of successful resumption of railway operations is high. He said the stakeholders in this project are not only Georgia, Abkhazia, Russia and Armenia, but also Turkey, which has stepped up exports of products to Russia after the Russian ban on imports of foods from EU and some other countries.
He said the resumption of the Abkhazian section of the railway is strategically important for Armenia, as it provides the shortest and cheapest land route from Armenia to Russia. Putin recently announced that Russia and Abkhazia may organize transit rail service through Abkhazia to Georgia and from there to Armenia given an agreement by all sides.
Safaryan said non-governmental organizations, political circles and the media must provide platforms to all those who favor the resumption of the South-Caucasian Railway, as well as the construction of a new highway, which can bind Dagestan with Georgia, one branch of which will go to Armenia through the North-South transport corridor under construction in Armenia, and the second branch, which may head to Turkey.
“It is obvious that Armenia would not feel itself as a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union unless these projects are implemented,” said Safaryan.
Six months ago, speaking in the National Assembly of Armenia, deputy transport minister Artur Arakelyan said the resumption of the Abkhazian section of the railway is estimated to cost some $200 million.