Saturday, August 26, 2006

Georgia taking steps to undermine US foreign policy

It seems that Georgia has taken a step forward to undermine the United States policy goal of promoting a stable and cooperative environment in the region.

As part of Turkey’s good neighbor policy, the Turkish and Azeri governments are ready to loan Georgia interest-free funds to build their share of the Kars-Akhalkalak-Baku railway, which bypasses Armenia and further threatens Armenian national security.

Effectively the Kars-Akhalkalak-Baku railway would link Turkey with Azerbaijan and give Azerbaijan access to arms and other strategic resources so they can attack Armenia.

I would hope that the Armenian Assembly and the ANCA will bring all these facts to Washington's attention and recommend that sanctions and cut of U.S. aid be adopted against Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, since they obviously have no respect for the United States policies in the region, thus should not be rewarded for their lack of respect to Washington with U.S. taxpayers money.

Azerbaijan, Turkey to Fund Georgia Leg of Railway

BAKU (Armenpress)-- Azerbaijan and Turkey will provide interest-free loans to Georgia to finance the construction of the Georgian leg of the proposed Kars-Akhalkalak-Baku railway, a high-level official at the Azeri transportation ministry Sadreddin Mamedov told Interfax-Azerbaijan news agency.

"We made this decision last week during a meeting of the three transpiration ministers. Georgia asked for a long-term interest-free loan and Turkey and Azerbaijan agreed," said Mamedov, adding, however, that it was premature to discuss the exact amount of the loan.

The official added that Georgia accepted plans drawn by a Turkish firm commissioned to design the railway.

The US House of Representatives voted last month to block US taxpayer funding for an unnecessary and costly proposed railroad between Turkey and Georgia that would, if built, circumvent Armenia and, in the process, undermine the economic viability of the existing Caucasus railroad route through Armenia.

The amendment, spearheaded by Representatives Joe Crowley (D-NY), Ed Royce (R-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), and adopted as part of the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2006, prohibits the Export-Import Bank from providing any assistance "to develop or promote any rail connections or railway-related connections that traverse or connect Baku, Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Kars, Turkey, and that specifically exclude cities in Armenia." The measure was adopted unanimously by the House Financial Services Committee in June of this year.

The Crowley Amendment is similar to the South Caucasus Integration and Open Railroads Act of 2006. This measure was introduced in both the House (H.R.3361), by Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), and in the Senate (S2461) by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). The House version has 85 cosponsors; the Senate version has been cosponsored by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD). Both measures stress that US policy should oppose the "The exclusion of Armenia from regional economic and commercial undertakings in the South Caucasus," noting that such actions "undermine the United States policy goal of promoting a stable and cooperative environment in the region."

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