NATO’s Caucasus and Central Asia envoy James Appathurai (left) and Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze in Brussels today. (Ministry photo.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia offers NATO to use the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway to ship equipment out of Afghanistan after the ISAF mission finishes in 2014, Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze says.

Construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, one of the largest entrepreneurial projects in Georgia at the moment, is expected to be completed later this year. The railway will provide a rail link between Turkey and Azerbaijan, through Georgia, as a replacement for a rail line, which was closed in 1993, which runs through Gyumri, Armenia.

Panjikidze, who is in Brussels attending a meeting of NATO ministers discussing the ISAF mission to Afghinstan, said Wednesday that Georgia has offered NATO to use this railway to transfer goods after 2014, when the mission of ISAF will finish.

“There is a large interest towards this railway section,” she said. “This is a common project between three countries which can be interesting for NATO.”

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Turkey’s Foreign Minister also remarked the importance of this project in his speech.

“When the process of bringing out troops from Afghanistan will start after 2014 and also bringing military goods, this is the shortest and preferential route,” Panjikidze said. “I am sure this proposal will be acceptable for NATO.”

Panjikidze noted that there currently are nearly 1 700 Georgians serving in Afghanistan and the country will continue its contribution to Afghanistan after 2014.

The foreign minister is in Brussels and today met with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The two talked about bilateral cooperation and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.