Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
by Gayane Isahakyan
Russia is interested in Armenia as a transit corridor to the Middle East and South Asia, Director of the Center for Integration Studies at the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) Yevgeny Vinokurov said on Wednesday during a Moscow-Yerevan video conference on the economic advantages of the Eurasian project for Armenia.
"All the members of the Customs Union are interested in the building of the North-South transport corridor and the reopening of the Abkhazian railway. This project will be financed by the EDB-controlled EurasEC Anti-Crisis Fund," Vinokurov said.
He said that one of the issues of the joint agenda may also be the Georgian problem. "According to surveys, 59% of the Georgians are interested in normal relations with Russia and are well disposed towards the Customs Union. This is a good chance for Armenia and all the member states," Vinokurov said.
Deputy Director of the Noravank Scientific Education Foundation Sevak Sarukhanyan stressed the importance of railway projects in the territory of Armenia. "Armenia may become the Customs Union's gates into the Middle East and South Asia," he said.
The expert believes that the reopening of the Abkhazian railway will foster integration in the South Caucasus. "All the transport and energy corridors built in the region so far run from east to west rather from north to south," Sarukhanyan said.
He welcomes Armenia's wish to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as China may also be interested in the Iran-Armenia railway project.
The 556 km long North-South transport corridor will give access to the Black Sea and Europe through the territory of Armenia (Meghri-Kapan- Goris-Yerevan-Ashtarak-Gyumri-Bavra) and Georgia.
While visiting Yerevan in Jan 2013, Georgian Prime Minister Birdzina Ivanishvili mentioned the possibility of restarting the Abkhazian railway stopped as a result of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict in 1992- 1993.