No one has yet approached Sokhumi on reopening railway via Abkhazia, but the Abkhaz side is ready to discuss the issue if there are concrete proposals, Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab said.
“I know about this issue as much as you do,” Ankvab responded when asked during a press conference on January 18 about Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement that his government was ready to launch talks over reopening of the railway between Georgia and Russia via breakaway Abkhazia.
Ankvab said that no one had discussed this issue with Sokhumi yet.
“If there are concrete proposals then we will sit down and discuss them together,” he said.
Ankvab said that many countries were interested in reopening of this railway. “But I only have a foggy idea how it can be done,” he said, adding that this section of the railway was one of the most loaded railway routes in South Caucasus during the Soviet times.
“It’s difficult for me to say what can be done now. Experts should sit down and discuss it, calculate what the Abkhaz side will benefit from it, whether the game is worth the candle or not, what are the goals and interests pursued by all the stakeholders in this possible process. For the time being everything is quite foggy,”
According to Ankvab, condition of railway section within Abkhazia linking Sokhumi with the Russian border in Psou was “satisfactory”, but section of railway from Sokhumi to Ochamchire was in poor condition and actually there was no railway at all from Ochamchire to administrative border at Enguri river.
“Multi-billion investments are needed to have a proper railway,” Ankvab said.
Asked during the press conference in Yerevan on January 17 if restoration of the railway link via Abkhazia, which could also link Armenia to Russia, was possible, Georgian PM Ivanishvili responded: “It’s possible.”
He, however, added that the issue was complicated because of troubled relations between Georgia and Russian and because of “uneasy relations with our Abkhaz brothers”.
Ivanishvili said that the issue of railway could be resolved in case of a political will from all the parties. “The Georgian side voiced its readiness in this regard. On our part there is full readiness for solving all the issues as soon as possible,” Ivanishvili added.
President Saakashvili said that he was against of reopening of the railway. He said on January 17 that reopening of the railway via breakaway Abkhazia was in Russia’s interest and addressing this issue outside the context of de-occupation would be “criminal, anti-state, anti-Georgian” act.