Wednesday, May 30, 2007

OPIC won’t support Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway construction


The Armenian Assembly of America commended Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) for securing an assurance on May 25 from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) that the agency would not support a proposed railroad linking Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan while bypassing Armenia. OPIC helps U.S. businesses invest overseas.

"It is important that OPIC not repeat the mistake of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline," Sherman said in a press statement. "Taxpayer funds should not go for projects that deliberately seek to isolate a friend of the United States, and I appreciate the commitment not to get involved in the railroad project."

The proposed railway, estimated to cost upwards of $600 million, excludes Armenia from economic and regional transportation corridors. Armenian government officials have repeatedly said that a new costly Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway is unnecessary given that a railroad linking Armenia, Georgia and Turkey already exists.

Last June, the House Financial Services Committee unanimously approved a provision sponsored by Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY), along with Sherman and Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), prohibiting the Export-Import Bank from supporting the rail link project. That provision was adopted and is now a law.

"The Assembly thanks Congressman Sherman for his leadership on this issue," said Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "The proposed project, sponsored by the Turkish and Azeri governments, runs counter to U.S. policy goals which seek to foster regional cooperation and economic integration, and includes open borders and transport and communication corridors. OPIC’s assurance helps ensure that the U.S. will not be party to the flawed policies of Armenia’s neighbors," the AAA reports.

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Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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