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Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan intend to establish an operator company to restore and service the Transcaucasian railroad
Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan intend to establish an operator company to restore and service the Transcaucasian railroad, Russian Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said at a Wednesday press conference in Moscow. In his words, this decision was made after the talks with the leadership of three Transcaucasian countries. "Three presidents confirmed their wish that transportation bodies should suggest a scheme of an operator company's establishment," said Mr. Levitin. He explained that the political decision on the restoration of a through railway movement in the Caucasus was difficult to make now, that's why it was decided to start from economic issues. "A scheme of establishing an operator company which will take up the functions of controlling traffic was proposed," said Mr. Levitin. He added that open joint-stock company Russian Railways would join the new company on the Russian part. Mr. Levitin said that in many respects, the consent of the Transcaucasian republics' presidents to restoration of the through railway movement was defined by the very important geopolitical significance of this project. The case is that a project codenamed Silky Way - the construction of a railway via China, Kazakhstan finally reaching Turkey - is being realized now. Mr. Levitin said the volume of transit on the Transcaucasian railroad in Soviet times was up to 15 million tons of cargoes annually. Mr. Levitin recalled that movement on the Transcaucasian railroad was suspended in 1990 due to events in Abkhazia (a self-proclaimed republic on Georgian territory). As a result of warfare, many sections of the railroad were damaged, and many sections of the railway bed were not demined. "Georgia is to give the Russian side documents on the state of the railroad on its territory and assess the volume of necessary investment until the end of November," said the Transportation minister. Only after that will Russia make the decision to participate in the restoration of the railroad, he emphasized. In the minister's opinion, the consortium which is being created will also address the issues of restoration of destroyed sections of the Transcaucasian railroad. The four states will support this project with loans. Besides, a banking consortium will be created to finance the project, said Mr. Levitin. He said Georgia was interested in integration of a Georgian airline with a Russian one. The minister recalled that Aeroflot was considering the issue on the integration with the Georgian airline. Mr. Levitin said this issue was complicated with Georgian airlines' debt for aeronavigation servicing in Russia's airspace
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