Pashinyan Stresses Importance of Opening Railway to Azerbaijan

By Asbarez | Friday, 17 December 2021

Economy Minister Says Price Tag for Railway will Pass $1 Billion

During a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev reaffirmed an agreement and decision on constructing a railway that will open transport routes to Iran and Russia.

The Soviet-era rail link goes from Yeraskh in Armenia’s Ararat Province, to Julfa and Ordubad in Nakhichevan (bordering Iran), from where it goes to Meghri and to Horadiz in Azerbaijan.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Pashinyan said that this agreement was reached as a result of the discussions of the trilateral (Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan) task force dealing with the opening of regional connections.

He added that this agreement was recorded during his meeting with Aliyev in Sochi on November 26, which was mediated by the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pashinyan told his cabinet that the issue was also discussed in Brussels in the meeting mediate by the President of the European Council Charles Michel.

“I am underscoring that the railway will function in accordance to internationally accepted border and customs regulations on reciprocal principle, under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries. With this railway Armenia will receive access to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation, while Azerbaijan will receive railway access to Nakhichevan,” Pashinyan said.

The prime minister highlighted that if Armenia succeeds in starting some dialogue with Turkey and if the opening of border and connections are successful then this project could become more major, referencing the now dormant Yeraskh-Gyumri-Kars railway.

“Of course, before the construction itself there’s a lot to be done, to develop, announce tenders, to reach agreements. Of course, a part of this work is already done, but now we must solve this objective with practical and daily work. Certainly, we will hold detailed consultations in the coming days to further specify our ideas, the timeframes and the roadmap. Our intention and desire is to have this railway as soon as possible. I wouldn’t want to overestimate the importance of this agreement and project, but on the other hand I don’t want to underestimate it: this is an important agreement, which, I certainly hope we will implement accurately, and which will significantly change the region’s economic, investment, political and security environment, and we must soon focus on solving this issue as well,” Pashinyan said.

Armenia’s Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan revealed estimated costs for the construction of the Yeraskh-Julfa-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz railway, saying that to effort will cost more than $1 billion.

Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s cabinet meeting, he said that some nuances must be taken into account, ranging from the timeframes up to the specific parts where the railway will be constructed.

“I know that very little money is required for repairing the rails from Armenia to Iran near Yeraskh. It’s just about a few hundred meters of renovation there,” said Kerobyan.

“The second, more significant investment is the restoration of the railway in Meghri, which is rather costly because the old railway has been entirely dismantled and turned into a highway. I think we don’t have a concrete project there and we don’t have an approximate estimate. I think the issue can be solved for around $200 million. While the construction of the railway from the Armenian border to Horadiz will require more major investments. The investments here are greater, it will take more than a billion dollars,” Kerobyan explained.