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Georgia and Armenia want to reopen Russian border

By Sopo Datishvili
Tuesday, June 9
On June 8 Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze met his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian. After their meeting they arranged a joint press conference at which they spoke briefly about the main topics discussed, which were bilateral cooperation between Armenia and Georgia and specific cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres.

Nalbandian had raised the question about transporting Armenian cargo via Poti. He said that transporting goods to Poti from other places was cheaper than receiving them from Poti. Vashadze said that in future they will work on resolving this problem, although it isn’t within the competence of the Foreign Ministry. The Ministers also talked about Saakashvili’s next visit to Armenia, planned for June 24-25.

At the joint press conference in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vashadze made an announcement about the currently closed Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border crossing between Georgia and Russia. He said that negotiations with Russia haven’t started yet, but expressed the readiness of Georgia to cooperate with its Southern neighbour in ensuring the reopening of this crossing point. He added that Georgia had suggested that Russia could negotiate this question in neutral territory and also highlighted that opening the Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border is important for many Georgian citizens, and therefore Georgia will try its best to reopen it.

Political analyst Soso Tsintsadze thinks that Foreign Minister’s statement about opening the Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border was provoked purely by the visit of the Armenian Minister. “Not Georgia but Armenia is the interested party in this issue. Of course it would be good for Georgian citizens as well, as they could then cross the border and visit their relatives, but Armenia’s interest in the matter is great. Being able to get into Russia via Georgia is of course profitable for them,” said Tsintsadze.

Tsintsadze added that we shouldn’t have any illusions that Georgian-Russian relations will be improved by opening this border crossing. “This is only a detail and I don’t regard it as a strategically important step for either side. But I think foreign diplomats should also be involved in the negotiations about opening the border.”

At the same press conference Grigol Vashadze commented on the statement of Head of the Russian General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, that Georgia’s troops are better equipped now than they were before the August war. Vashadze said that Georgia knows very well when and why Russians say such things. He excluded confrontation between two countries but said that some provocations from Russia are always possible and Georgia should act carefully.