Armenia’s joining the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway is possible only after the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told a joint press conference with his Montenegrin counterpart Srdjan Darmanović in Baku.
“Our condition remains unchanged. First and foremost, Armenia must withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” he said, adding after this, it will be possible to talk about cooperation and good neighborly relations with Armenia.
The FM noted that a joint company for BTK operations will be set up in line with an agreement with the countries participating in the project.
“This company will control cargo transportation via BTK,” he added.
The official opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was held in Baku Oct.30. The BTK railway was constructed on the basis a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement. The railway’s peak capacity will be 17 million tons of cargo per year. At an initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.