Congressional Record: March 28, 2006 (Senate)]
[Page S2469-S2473]
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STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

By Mr. SANTORUM (for himself and Mr. Menendez): S. 2461. A bill
to prohibit United States assistance to develop or promote any
rail connections or railway-related connections that traverse or
connect Baku, Azerbaijan, Tbilisi, Georgia, and Kars, Turkey, and
that specifically exclude cities in Armenia; to the Committee on
Foreign Relations.

Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce legislation
to block U.S. support for yet another anti-Armenian initiative.

In numerous cases over the last few years, the Turkish government has
methodically sought to isolate Armenia economically, politically and
socially. One of the most egregious examples was the imposition of a
1993 blockade against Armenia in support of Azerbaijan's war against
Karabakh Armenians.

The Turkish government has routinely sought to exclude Armenia from
projects that would benefit the economies of the countries of the South
Caucasus. The latest example of this policy is the proposal to build
a new rail line that would connect Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Similar to the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, this rail link would specifically
go around Armenia.

Now, geographically, we all know that a pipeline or rail line that
seeks to connect Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan would have to pass
through Armenia. One would have to make a special effort to bypass
Armenia.

The U.S. should not endorse Turkey and Azerbaijan's politically
motivated attempt to isolate Armenia.

I therefore rise today in opposition to this plan, and to introduce
legislation, along with my colleague, Senator Santorum, that would bar
U.S. support and funding for a rail link connecting Georgia and Turkey,
and which specifically excludes Armenia. This project is estimated to
cost up to $800 million and would take three years to complete. The aim
of this costly approach, as publicly stated by Azeri President Aliyev,
is to isolate Armenia by enhancing the ongoing Turkish and Azerbaijani
blockades and to keep the existing Turkey-Armenia-Georgia rail link
shut down. This ill-conceived project runs counter to U.S. policy,
ignores the standing Kars-Gyumri rail route, is politically and
economically flawed and serves to destabilize the region.

U.S. policy in the South Caucasus seeks to foster regional cooperation
and economic integration and supports open borders and transport
and communication corridors. U.S. support for this project would
run counter to that policy which is why Senator Santorum and I are
introducing this legislation today.

We cannot continue to stoke the embers of regional conflict by
supporting projects that deliberately exclude one of the region's
most important members. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.