Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 136

On November 13 in Yerevan, Armenian prime minister Hrant Bagratian conferred with a Russian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev on political and economic cooperation between the two countries. They discussed, inter alia, practical measures to restore the Abkhazian section of the Trans-Caucasus railroad, which they described as critical to bilateral economic ties; and they signed an agreement on cooperation in culture and higher education. The tenor of the discussions was extremely friendly. "Nothing can threaten our century-old relations, and all prerequisites exist for their further development," Chernyshev remarked. (15) On the same day, Russia’s nuclear energy minister Viktor Mikhailov capped a visit to Armenia with an agreement on Russian assistance to restarting the first reactor and power block of Armenia’s Medzamor nuclear power plant within 12 to 18 months. Work toward restarting it has already begun. (16)

Moscow seeks to enlist other CIS countries to co-finance the reconstruction of that railroad, heavily damaged during the Russian-assisted war of Abkhaz secession against Georgia in 1992-93. Chernyshev undoubtedly discussed Armenia’s possible contribution to that effort. Armenia is directly interested, as is Georgia. The Soviet-era Medzamor plant’s second reactor and power block was restarted at the end of October, also with Russian assistance. The plant can cover 60 percent of Armenia’s electricity needs if brought up to full capacity. Russian-Armenian economic ties and the warm tenor of the relations reflect the two countries’ alignment against Turkish and Azerbaijani interests in the region.

Tajik Official Admits to Losses in Garm Fighting.