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Armenian lobby in the USA against Kars-Akhalkalaki railway

04 April 2006 [11:24] - TODAY.AZ
The Turkish company Yuksel Domonik has elaborated upon their technical and economic plan for the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway - a 98 kilometer project which is estimated to cost between USD 350-450 million.

In addition to building a railway line between Kars and Akhalkalaki, a railway line running from Kars in Turkey, across Georgia to Baku is being considered at an estimated cost of USD 800 million.

A working group on the project is planned to be held in April between the tripartite railway administration of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. The three countries' Ministers of Transport will then discuss the recommendations of the working group at the end of April/beginning of May, reports the newspaper Khvalindeli Dghe.

Meanwhile the influential and extremely active Armenian lobby in the U.S. is engaging in a campaign to convince America that the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway should not be built. U.S. Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have submitted a bill to the Senate that would bar U.S. investment in the railway construction project because it bypasses the territory of Armenia.

"The planned construction of the railway in the South Caucasus will not only impinge on the USA's long-term interests in the region, but will also result in Armenia's isolation. The USA's policy in the South Caucasus encourages regional stability, cooperation and re-opening of borders and transport corridors," said Santorum According to the web site armeniandiaspora.com.

Georgian analysts consider the Kars-Akhalkalaki project to be in-line with U.S. strategic interests. According to the newspaper Resonansi, analyst Ramaz Klimiashvili said "It is profitable for the USA to complete the project; particularly if the freight which is currently transported from Central Asia via Russia, is transported along this route instead. Saying that this project is politically negative for the U.S. is just ridiculous. Turkey is a NATO member country and freight would pass via those countries that are also controlled by NATO."

According to local analysts, despite the Armenian lobby being very strong in the U.S. Senate it should not be allowed to prevent the construction of this railway. The U.S. Senate should only consider a lobby if it serves the interests of its citizens.

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