Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway construction slows down
25.07.2009 12:49 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Azerbaijan has provided only 27,1 million manats
(AZN) out of $200 million meant for construction of the Georgian
sector of Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway, said Shahmar Movsumov, executive
director of State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan.
`The small amount of the transfer is conditioned by slackened
construction speed,' he said, adding that that the works should be
intensified in the near future.
The Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway, or Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku
railway, is a regional rail link project to directly connect Turkey,
Georgia and Azerbaijan. The project was due to be completed by 2010.
In total 98 kilometers (61 mi) of new line will be built between Kars
and Akhalkalaki, with 68 kilometers (42 mi) within Turkey and 30
kilometers (19 mi) in Georgia. The existing line from Akhalkalaki on
to Tbilisi and Baku will be modernized.
The new railway link is intended to provide an alternative route to
the existing Kars-Gyumri-Akhalkalaki railway line which has been out
of use since 1993, when Turkey closed its border with Armenia to
support Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia following the Nagorno
Karabakh War. A multi-lateral accord to build the link was signed by
the three countries in January 2005, but the European Union and the
United States have said they will not assist in promoting or
developing the line because it is designed to bypass Armenia.
For the construction of the railroad on Georgian territory, Azerbaijan
is providing a US$220 million loan, repayable in 25 years, with an
annual interest rate of only 1%. A concessional loan agreement for
this financing has already been signed between a Georgian state-owned
company Marabda-Karsi Railroad LLC and Azerbaijan. As of September
2007, the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan has allocated the first US$50
million installment of this loan.
On November 21, 2007, the presidents of Azerbaijan - Ilham Aliyev,
Georgia - Mikheil Saakashvili, and Turkey - Abdullah Gul inaugurated
the construction of the railroad at a groundbreaking ceremony in the
village of Marabda in southern Georgia.