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Russia-Armenia trade increases

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Wednesday, January 23
Trade between Russia and Armenia increased 63 percent in 2007, Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin said at the opening of a business forum organized by the two countries in Yerevan on January 21, according to RIA Novosti.

He also said that Russia has invested USD 1 billion in Armenia’s economy between 1991 and 2007.

With the Russian-Georgia border closed due to Moscow’s trade embargo on Georgia, Armenian cargo currently reaches Russia via the Kavkaz–Poti ferry route over the Black Sea.

The only legal customs point on the Russia-Georgia border, the Lars crossing in Kazbegi, has been closed since 2006, ostensibly for renovation works which are tentatively slated to last until this year. No reopening has been confirmed.

Meanwhile, Russian Railways JSC won a tender for management rights to Armenian Railways JSC earlier this month and is expected to invest heavily to improve the country’s rail network.

This will pave the way for better transport links between the two countries, Levitin says. “[It] will enable us to talk about the existence of the regular connection between the two states,” the transport minister commented.

However, with presidential elections slated for February 19, Armenia’s future foreign policy is unclear. Opposition candidate Artur Bagdasaryan is emphasizing the country’s EU prospects in his election campaign.

“I see Armenia's future within the EU. This means that our foreign policy should prioritize profound reforms in the country so that one day Armenia can become a fully-fledged EU member,” RIA Novosti quotes him as saying.