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Knollenberg Spearheads Legislation To Bar U.s. Funding For Railroad Links That Bypas

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  • Knollenberg Spearheads Legislation To Bar U.s. Funding For Railroad Links That Bypas

    July 21, 2005
    CONTACT: Christine Kojoian
    Email: [email protected]


    Washington, DC - Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Joe
    Knollenberg (R-MI), along with Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and
    Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA), last night introduced a bill in the House of
    Representatives that would bar U.S. assistance for a proposed Kars-Akhalkalaki
    rail link which isolates Armenia from East-West commercial corridors.

    H. R. 3361, also known as the South Caucasus Integration and Open Railroads Act
    of 2005, would prohibit U.S. assistance for this ill-proposed route which would
    link Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan but not traverse Armenia. According to
    preliminary estimates, constructing a new rail link would cost at least
    $400-800 million and would be financed by the participating countries.

    "Excluding Armenia from economic and commercial opportunities undermines U.S.
    long-term interests in the region," said Congressman Knollenberg. "The U.S.
    should not assist in promoting or developing the proposed Kars-Akhalkalaki
    railroad, which bypasses Armenia, ignores the existing Kars-Gyumri route,
    thwarts regional cooperation and serves to destabilize the South Caucasus."

    Armenian government officials have repeatedly said that a new railway is
    unnecessary given that a railroad linking Armenia, Georgia and Turkey already
    exists. The existing line is in working condition and could be operational
    within weeks.

    "We commend the leadership of Congressman Knollenberg and his colleagues for
    introducing this measure," said Assembly Board of Directors Chairman Anthony
    Barsamian. "The proposed railway is an extension of Turkey's and Azerbaijan's
    efforts to hinder Armenia's regional integration. The Assembly will block any
    attempt to isolate Armenia and fight to ensure that it is included in regional
    transportation routes which will benefit the entire South Caucasus and promote
    security, trade and economic development."

    The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
    organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues.
    It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
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