829) Yerevan's Futile Efforts

Milliyet Columnist Semih Idiz comments on Armenia's efforts not to grow more isolated, as Turkey and surrounding countries strengthen their cooperation. A summary of his column is as follows:

"Armenia believes in the bad state of Turkish-US relations and thinks it can take advantage of the international situation. However, it couldn’t help being excluded from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project, which is very important for its interests in the European Union and the US. So now Armenia is exerting most of his efforts to hinder another project between Turkey, Georgia and Armenia, the Kars-Ahilkelek railway project. If this 100-kilometer railway worth $400 million can be laid, Azerbaijan and Turkey will be connected through a railway over Georgia. This situation would make any resurrection of the Kars-Gumru railway line irrelevant. In addition, it would further deepen Armenia’s isolation in the region. Yerevan has set its strong Armenian lobby in the US in motion and started to move on a bill in Congress banning the issuance of credit for the Kars-Ahilkelek project by US financial institutions.

Officials from the EU Commission have been saying since the beginning of this year that the EU wouldn’t support this project financially. As a matter of fact, as Foreign Ministry Spokesman Namik Tan stated recently, the countries pursuing this project don’t need the EU or the US in terms of finding money. Yerevan saw this and now started to send certain signals that it's ready to make important concession so the country’s isolation doesn't get worse. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian visited Tbilisi last week and, when he saw that he would be unable to convince the Georgian government to give up Kars-Ahilkelek line, made an interesting suggestion.

As Armenian journalist Emil Danielyan wrote on the ‘Eurasia Insight’ website, Oskanyan said that if this project was given up, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan would be use the existing Gumru railway line on Armenian territory without Armenia’s participation. In other words, Yerevan stated that he was ready to provide the ‘right of free entry.’ Of course, the three countries which have serious problems with Armenia could never accept this suggestion. It would also be hard for the Armenian people to accept this. If Yerevan considers the issues at the root of its isolation more realistically, instead of making such useless suggestions, it would better serve their long-term interests. However, it can’t do this as a country with its eyes fixed on the past, rather than the future.”

Milliyet, 3 July 2006
By Semih Idiz



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