He confirmed that this was the main theme of talks held by Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk and the head of Russian Railways (RZD) state monopoly, Oleg Belozerov, in Yerevan on Wednesday. They met with Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian.
“We are very close to registering the first practical results of the trilateral [Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani] working group on opening regional communication routes,” Pashinian said, commenting on the talks at the start of a weekly session of his cabinet.
“We are already discussing defining technical specifications and designing and financing [the project] and starting construction,” he added without going into details.
The planned 45-kilometer railway will connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave through Armenia’s Syunik province. The Armenian government set up last month a task force that will coordinate its construction, which is expected to cost about $200 million.
The head of the task force, Artashes Tumanian, was also present at Grigorian’s meeting with the visiting Russian officials.
“Yesterday’s meeting was very practical indeed,” Tumanian told Pashinian. “The Russian side presented its vision.”
Grigorian said, for his part, that the Armenian side will closely cooperate with Russian Railways in implementing the railway project. He argued that the Russian operator manages Armenia’s railway network, called the South Caucasus Railway (SRC), and has ample experience in railway construction.
It remained unclear when work on the Syunik railway will start. Nor did Pashinian and Grigorian say whether the construction will be financed by the Armenian government, Russian Railways or international donors.
Neither Grigorian’s office nor the SRC could be reached for comment.