ANKARA: Yerevan’s Futile Efforts

YEREVAN’S FUTILE EFFORTS
By Semih Idiz

Anatolian Times, Turkey
July 3 2006

MILLIYET- 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 Azerbaijan, 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.

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