by Marianna Mkrtchyan
Armenia seeks restoration of direct railway communication linking Georgia and Russia via the territory of Abkhazia, but is no 'serious talk' on that topic so far, Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan told Rustavi-2 TV, Novosti-Gruzia reports. The Armenian president is on an official visit to Georgia these days.
"However, we want that railway to function. It is of vital importance for us," Serzh Sargsyan said. Nevertheless, the president said, opening of the railway does not depend on Armenia and Russia only. "It depends also on other countries, therefore we are actively working on the issue," he said. Earlier, on Wednesday, Georgia's State Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality Paata Zakareishvili commented on the statement by Vladimir Yakunin who urged more specific efforts on opening of the railway communication via Abkhazia and Georgia to Armenia. Zakareishvili said that the issue is not discussed so far, though it may become a subject for discussion in future between Georgia and Russia, particularly, between Georgian Prime Minister's Special Representative for the relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigory Karasin.
According to the study "Rehabilitation of the railways in the South Caucasus" issued by the International Alert British NGO, the potential costs of rehabilitating the South Caucasus railways, in particular the Sochi-Sukhum/i-Tbilisi-Yerevan railway, will totaled $277.5 mln, which can be returned in 100 years no sooner.
Restoration of the 190km section Psou-Inguri will cost $251 million. The Inguri-Zugdigi section will cost $26.5 million dollars. The section from Zugdigi to Tbilisi and farther to Yerevan needs no repair. It is noteworthy that Abkhazian experts estimate rehabilitation of the railway at $350-$400 million. Meanwhile, Georgian experts claim that the project will cost some $73 million.