The construction of a railway through Meghri is a purely political project and if it is implemented, Armenia will find itself in complete transport isolation, Gagik Aghajanyan, director of the leading APAVEN freight forwarding company in Armenia told the Russian edition of EADaily.
According to him, over the past 30 years, after the collapse of the USSR, the regional map of railway communications has changed a lot. Azerbaijan has already built a railway to enter Iran via Astara – Rasht. Baku has already bypassed Armenia from the east. There is already a railway linking Georgia with Turkey: Kars – Akhalkalaki. That is, Georgia bypasses Armenia from the west. Thus, there are railway communications bypassing Armenia from the east, north and west. There remains one road (southern), during the construction of which Armenia, being in the center of the region, will find itself in transport isolation. As soon as a railway is built connecting the southern regions of Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan, and then with Turkey, through the so-called Meghri corridor, Armenia will find itself in complete transport isolation. That is, with our help, Azerbaijan and Turkey will actually bypass Armenia, the expert said.
According to him, the Meghri section is 45 km of the road along which Azerbaijani trains will transit to Nakhichevan. It is only a short transit route, which is not reached by the Armenian railway. That is, it will not be connected with the Armenian railway system, but will only connect Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan. Of course, Armenian cargo can reach Iran by rail through Nakhichevan if it is unblocked, but there is no need to build a new road in the south of Armenia.
Armenia can restore railway communication with Azerbaijan through Ijevan in a matter of weeks or months, providing transport communication between Baku and Nakhichevan, and Azerbaijan will unblock the railway between Armenia and Iran through the same Nakhichevan. This road is already there. Why build another road from the south? The answer is obvious – to bypass Armenia.
“I doubt that in that case, we can talk about restarting the railway between Armenia and Turkey in the future. Turkey has already announced that it is ready to build a railway to Nakhichevan from Sharur station (Nakhichevan) to Igdir and further to Kars. In this situation, Armenia will be forced to bow to its neighbors every time in order to get a road in one direction or another. At the same time, we cannot offer them our roads in any way. They won’t need them. Armenia will unilaterally pay its neighbors for roads through their territories, ” Aghajanyan stressed.
It turns out, he believes, that the new map of transport communications will be beneficial to everyone except Armenia, which will eventually lose the opportunity to connect with Russia through the Azerbaijani railway network, as well as the prospects for restarting the railway with Turkey.
“I think Yerevan can offer to use the existing railways. When cargoes go through them and the cargo traffic reaches such volumes that the throughput capacity of these roads will not be able to service them, then we can think about building an alternative road. Then there will be economic feasibility in the construction of a new track. If today there is no economic feasibility in its construction, then the question arises of why this should be done. There is only one explanation – this is a political project,” the expert summed up.
Meanwhile, in an earlier interview with ArmInfo, Aghajanyan noted that a new road to the Upper Lars checkpoint will be built in Georgia in a year and a half. The 21 km long road will also include the construction of a 9-kilometer tunnel, thanks to which traffic on this road will become year-round, round-the-clock, and therefore uninterrupted. Thus, the volume of transportation by rail will be significantly reduced, and by road, on the contrary, will increase. The reason for this is the higher tariffs for railway transportation in Armenia itself, which are also significantly influenced by expensive tariffs for energy resources.
In this context, the specialist believes that Armenia should take a much tougher stance on the issue of resuming transport routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the country does not experience great needs in the railway.
Aghajanyan noted that according to the calculations of the Azerbaijani side, it will take two years and $ 434 million to build a new “southern” railway line. This road cannot be built for such a period and such an amount. A vivid example of this is the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Baku railway through the territory of Georgia. It was necessary to build 130 km of the road there. Then they said that it would be built in two years and for $ 400 million, but in reality, it was built in 11 years and about $ 1 billion was spent. Meanwhile, transport communication with Azerbaijan can be restored within a few weeks – through Ijevan, thereby ensuring transport communication between Baku and Nakhichevan, and Azerbaijan will unblock the railway between Armenia and Iran through the same Nakhichevan.
Gagik Aghajanyan recalled that before the collapse of the USSR, Armenia was a serious hub in terms of railway communication for the countries of the region. With the exception of the railway line between Georgia and Azerbaijan, all other routes passed through Armenia. Regional countries communicated with each other exclusively through the territory of Armenia. It was possible to get from Georgia to Turkey by rail, through Armenia, from Azerbaijan to Turkey – also through the territory of Armenia. The same could be said about the communication between Iran and Georgia. Even the railway from Azerbaijan to Iran could be made exclusively through the territory of Armenia. He also reminded that the whole world opens up to Armenia through the Georgian ports. Armenia is connected with Georgian ports by a railway, which operates without interruption.