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Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey agree to deepen cooperation

March 29, 2013, 11:02 UTC+3
Its main project is to become the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, linking the three countries bypassing the railway network of the former Soviet Union
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The foreign ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey held a meeting in Batumi on Thursday at which the countries of the Trabzon Declaration agreed to deepen trilateral cooperation. Its main project is to become the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, linking the three countries bypassing the railway network of the former Soviet Union. According to Georgian experts’ estimates, the next stage of the integration may be the creation of a tripartite military-political alliance.

Taking part in the second ministerial meeting were the three countries’ Foreign Ministers Maia Panjikidze, Elmar Mamedyarov and Ahmet Davutoglu, the Kommersant daily writes. The ministers agreed on a regular dialogue in this format last June, signing the Trabzon Declaration that provides for closer cooperation among the three countries. Maia Panjikidze on Thursday named the spheres where in the near future it is planned to intensify cooperation and sign a number of agreements: on transport, energy, tourism and culture. “And besides that, there are many other interesting and important directions,” the Georgian foreign minister pointed out.

According to the newspaper, one of the themes of the Batumi meeting was the discussion of the accelerated completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, linking Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, bypassing the railway network of the former Soviet Union. The foreign ministers of the three countries reaffirmed their readiness to complete the construction of the railway in the current year.

Georgian experts believe that Tbilisi’s desire to accelerate the implementation of the project is caused by the indifferent reaction of Moscow to the idea to ·resume the railway service between Russia and Georgia via Abkhazia. The initiator of the discussion of this idea – Georgian State Minister for Reintegration, Paata Zakareishvili told the Kommersant daily that the absence of a positive response from Moscow has disappointed him. Having found no understanding on the matter, Tbilisi has apparently switched to an alternative infrastructure project involving Azerbaijan and Turkey.

On the Batumi meeting results the ministers adopted an action plan for 2013-2015. Although cooperation in the defence and security sphere is not mentioned in it, experts believe its beginning is “just around the corner.” Rector of the Georgian Diplomatic Academy Iosif Tsintsadze told the newspaper: “The military-political bloc Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey may appear in the South Caucasus.”

 

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