Georgia, Tbilisi, Feb. 13/ Trend N.Kirtskhalia /
Armenia cannot use the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway without permission of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov said at a press conference in Tbilisi.
Mammadov participated in the second meeting of the informal dialogue under the EU Eastern Partnership in Tbilisi.
"Let me remind everyone that this project is carried out on Azerbaijan's initiative, as well as funded from the state budget of our country. As Armenia occupied our territories, the country has no right to use this railroad as long as the Karabakh conflict is not resolved and Armenia cannot join this project without our permission, "the Azerbaijani minister said.
This statement was made at a joint press conference held after the meeting, following the Armenian Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Artashes Avetisyan's statement that "if possible, Armenia would like to use the BTK railroad in the future."
It is planned to construct a new 105-kilometre branch railroad as part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. In addition, the section of the Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Marabda railway will be reconstructed in Georgia which will increase its capacity to 15 million tons of cargo per year. It is planned to build a centre in Akhalkalaki for the transition of trains from the existing train tracks in Georgia to the European one.
Peak capacity of the corridor will be 17 million tons of cargo. This figure will be at the level of one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo in the initial stages.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of
Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France and the U.S. - are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
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