Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 24-30 Jan.: Куда?

When on 21st August 1991 the Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia assessed the coup as a plot of Gorbachev himself to boost his own popularity before the Soviet presidential elections, he was most probably too blinded by his hate towards the Union and his Presidency to have a clear picture of what was going on.
Twenty years later Mikhail Saakashvili’s remark about Domodedovo’s terrorist attack sounds as out of place as his predecessor’s one. Hopefully it’s hate again to have made him comment that the attack is “payback" for the Russian Federation's policies in the North Caucasus, and not a rooted belief that terrorism is proper mean of political dispute.

The confrontational approach was not very fruitful for Gamsakhurdia and it’s not predictable where it is leading Saakashvili to.

Talking about directions and the proper way to reach a destination, if it’s clear where it is, it’s interesting to have an overview about infrastructure projects. Russia deployed three brigades, including 800 specialists, to rehabilitate the railway sections from the river Psou to Sokhumi, and a section between the towns of Tkvarcheli and Ochamchire. So, work in progress on the Abkhazia railways on the Russian border.

Railways projects were the main topic of the meeting between Ziya Mamedov, Minister of Transports and Ramaza Nikolaishvili, Minister of Infrastructures and Regional Development, in Tbilisi, on Tuesday. The very focus was The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project, the railway supposed to be finished by 2012, if not before, and to carry up to 17 million tons of goods per year, at its full strength. The project foresees a totally new section of 105 kilometres, 76 of which in Turkey and 29 in Georgia. Moreover the Akhalkalaki-Marabda-Tbilisi will be rehabilitated. Akhalkalaki will be the main crossing point, and its strategic importance will rise.

The corridor’s costs have risen and Azerbaijan has pledged to do its part. At present the four kilometers tunnel to join Georgia and Turkey is under construction and the issue of customs and crossing simplification under discussion.

Armenia, cut out of the main regional projects, faces increased cost of import of goods from Turkey and China, via Armenian or Georgian shipping companies. Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan instructed the Minister of Transport and Communications Manuk Vardanyan to send requests to Georgian authorities to clarify the issue although some sources suggest that lack of transparency in the implementation of Armenian customs regulation may play its part.
According to Armenia now because of the high customs duties and shadow payments, the prices of imported goods rise constantly. In 2010, Armenian exports totaled about $1 billion and imports to Armenia about $3.7 billion, which is the worst rate among former Soviet countries.

So, confrontation and isolation lead Куда?

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