At present, an agreement on this rail corridor has become even more unlikely due to the recent Russian-Abkhaz Strategic Partnership Pact, which Tbilisi sees as a step towards Russia`s complete annexation of Abkhazia (cf. EDM, 29 October). And despite some news to the contrary in the Russian media, most Armenian experts and politicians believe that any new movement on the railway issue is extremely unlikely (Tert.am, November 28; Arminfo.am, December 1). In addition to the political implications for Georgia`s aspirations in the EU, the agreements signed at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels constitute an updated cooperation programme that offers several new areas of partnership between Armenia and Georgia. For example, the extension of the TEN-T (an EU initiative to build and modernise transport infrastructure across Europe) to Armenia provides for closer cooperation and connectivity through joint infrastructure projects. Given the blockade imposed by Turkey on Armenia in 1993 in response to the Nagorno-Karabakh war, all projects aimed at improving connectivity between the EU and Armenia are necessarily linked to Georgia, as it is the only transit zone between the two sides. Armenia and Georgia have already implemented several joint infrastructure projects supported by EU financial institutions, so the extension of the TEN-T to Armenia will bring great added value to ongoing projects. Since Georgia is also interested in a quality connection specific to European transport networks, the more Armenia and the EU will strive to invest in their transport cooperation. MEPs on Wednesday endorsed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the EU and Armenia, which paves the way for closer cooperation in different sectors. The transit of freight between Armenia and other members of the European Union remains another unresolved problem. So far, there is no transit agreement between the EU and Georgia and transit tariffs can be increased, especially when the bloc`s rules require Armenia to increase its tariffs on Georgian products.
Indeed, in all likelihood, EU rules could lead Armenia to abandon its free trade agreement with Georgia (Lragir.am, 26 September). The agreement, signed at the Eastern Partnership Summit held in Brussels on 24 November 2017, establishes bilateral relations between Armenia and the European Union at a new level of partnership and governs political and economic dialogue as well as sectoral cooperation and trade relations. Since gaining independence in the early 1990s, Armenia and Georgia have made similar progress towards European integration and have used the same instruments to develop bilateral relations with the EU. . . .