Georgia Offers NATO Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway For Afghan War Transit
April 24, 2013
Georgian FM Visits Brussels
Tbilisi: Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, participated in the NATO and ISAF partner nations’ foreign ministerial meeting on Tuesday and will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday in Brussels.
Panjikidze said that Georgia, which now has over 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, making the country highest per capita troop contributor to ISAF, reiterated its commitment to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan and reaffirmed its intention to continue its contribution after 2014, when the NATO combat mission is due to end.
She said that Georgia was also offering NATO to use its territory as a route for reverse transit of ISAF forces and cargoes from Afghanistan, in particular by using a railway link, which is due to be completed later this year and which will link Azerbaijan and Turkey via Georgia.
In a declaration adopted after a trilateral meeting in Batumi in March, 2013 foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey underscored “the necessity of timely conclusion of construction” of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in order to put the link into service as a “central, the shortest and the most effective route for reverse transit of the ISAF forces and cargoes from Afghanistan in 2014.”
Also on April 23, the Georgian Foreign Minister participated together with counterparts from three other NATO aspirant countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina; Montenegro and Macedonia, in a meeting with three NATO-member states – Poland, Romania and Turkey.
Panjikidze said it was an initiative of these three NATO-member states to initiate the new 3+4 format to engage more actively with four aspirant countries.
On Wednesday Panjikidze is expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Brussels to discuss “important details” of bilateral relations, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.