Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Russian-Georgian Links Back on Track?

This is not exactly the news one might expect coming out of Moscow these days, but it is the impression that one may get by a passing glance at a recent Interfax telegramme. The story is that the railway link between Moscow and Tbilisi has been restored after a 13-year long disruption. However, with a little fantasy, it may also give a certain twist to current political relations between Russia and Georgia.

Evidently, trains will leave Tbilisi for Moscow three times a week, starting last Saturday, and passengers will have to go through the discomfort of a detour via Azerbaijan. This is so, because the direct line to Moscow has been out of service since the start of the Abkhaz conflict in 1992.

Even though the newly reopened Tbilisi-Moscow connection is not via Abkhazia, negotiations are underway between Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Abkhazia, to reopen also the line running through Abkhazia from Yerevan via Tbilisi to Moscow, possibly as soon as within two years time.

That the link between Moscow and Tbilisi now has to go by detour and not directly may be a mere coincidence, but can also serve to signify the general character of current political relations between Russia and Georgia.

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