RAILROADS AND PIPELINES INTEGRATE THE CAUCASUS

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Image The Caucasia is such a small region to fight for. Having a bloody history, the region faced with numerous tragedies partly because of being on crossroads. All these sorrowful events should remind us that no nation can provide stability and security to the region without co-operation of the other regional countries. In this framework, the railroad that connects Kars, Tbilisi and Baku is a big step for being hopeful for future. Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan is gradually but in a confident manner attaining regional cooperation may be even integration in the region that previously known with bloody conflicts. First, Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan Pipeline (BTC) connected these three countries; later, the gas pipelines solidified this connection. The pipeline coming from Azerbaijan and Georgia was added to the pipeline coming from Iran. Turkey and Georgia merged their regional air traffic and now the railroads are on the way.

Thus, these three states are integrating with each other with long-term common interests. Therefore, the railroads are bringing these three countries in a non-separable manner.

Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railroad project includes development of 183 km of existing railroad and construction of new railroads as 76 km in Turkey and restoration of 26 km in Georgia. The estimated cost of the project is $ 422 million. However, this cost probably will reach to $600 million with the additional development projects. The railroad line will have the yearly transportation capacity of 15 million tons of goods.

This project may be seen as a small-range project for Turkey with its length and cost. However, the function of the project is for Turkey and the region is far more over its cost. First of all, a less developed region of Turkey will be integrated to Azerbaijan and Georgia. In addition, this project will ease the trade and transportation with Azerbaijan and her open hinterland that reaches to the Middle Asia. As we know the trade and social relations are highly relied on the transportation lines. It is certain that the relations between the people in the region and with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia and middle Asia will prosper.

Secondly, this line will bring a rapprochement between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan and their interests will be structurally similar. With tightening of relations and bridging of the interests cooperation will be intense and as an outcome of this process first the economy of these three states then their politics will be closer as we see in the process of the European Union. Thus, in the middle of a region whose name seems to be equal to instability there will be an island of political and economical stability. Hopefully, this island will expand through the other states in the region.

Another advantage of the line is to increase the capacity of the land routes which is highly sensitive to the local security problems. With more security the cost of transportation in the region will dramatically decreased.

Fourth contribution of the line is directly connecting the homeland Azerbaijan to its far West province Nahcivan. As we know there is Armenia between homeland Azerbaijan and Nahcivan, and Armenians do not allow transition of people through their lands. Airlines are highly expensive compared with the railroads. There were problems of security, high costs of money and time about using Georgia lands for transit passage. The railroads will make vital contributions on the solution of all these problems. Thus, Azerbaijan will develop faster and connection of Nahcivan and Azerbaijan will bring important material benefits to Turkey too.

Another benefit is having an incessant railroad from London to China. As we know the construction of a tube line that connect Istanbul Bosphorus under the sea. Thus, in the near future one will be able to directly go to the coasts of China from London by just getting on a train. Thus, Caucasia and Turkey will connect Europe to Asia with tighter bonds. This is why the countries such as China and Kazakhstan endorse this project.

Armenia

It was a wish for the Turkish statesmen that at least a small portion of the line pass through Armenia because Armenia has so many advantages about both energy and transportation projects. However, obstinacy of the country caused her to be by-passed from the project. Erivan tried to block the projects that she is not included but failed. Armenia and Armenian Diaspora spent a great deal of effort in order to create difficulties for the railroad project. Nevertheless, all these attempts failed. Day by day, Armenia has been isolated in the region and excluded all these economic cooperation. On contrary to the expectations Iran and Russia can not stop this isolation. Despite having borders with Iran, Iran does not have the ability to integrate Armenia to the rest of the world. Actually, Iran has also so many problems in integration to the rest of the world. Armenia does not have borders with Russia, even if she had borders, and Russia does not have any positive significant effect to development of the countries that she supports. Russia has a different style in international politics. Russia made Armenia economically dependent to her with loans until now. Russia for example has the monopoly of energy supplies in Armenia. In other words, Armenia pays high costs for not cooperating with Turkey but only Russia. Staying as an invader on the Azerbaijani soils and turning 1915 incidents to a major problem is cornering Armenia. Yerevan does not recognize national borders of Turkey and tries to harm Turkey

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