Who In The Region Can Benefit From Opening The Check-Point "Upper La

WHO IN THE REGION CAN BENEFIT FROM OPENING THE CHECK-POINT "UPPER LARS"?
Karine Ter-Sahakyan

PanARMENIAN.Net
17.11.2009 GMT+04:00

All this is a purely political game, the main participants of which –
the South Caucasus countries – estimate it theoretically and view it
as inevitable.

Georgia has taken yet another "historical" decision, this time on
opening the Check-Point "Upper Lars". This decision is almost purely
political, having no economic components. Russia hardly needs this
checkpoint; it is necessary only to Armenia and definitely to Georgia
so that she can somehow save her badly damaged reputation before the
world community.

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ However, in the opinion of Expert on Economic issues
Gia Khukhashvili, Georgia’s interests are not taken into account in
re-opening the checkpoint "Kazbegi" (that’s how the Upper Lars is
called in Tbilisi); with this decision Georgia only helps others.

"Against opening of Zemo Larsi, the Georgian side should have laid
down her conditions and defended her interests to the maximum. In
particular, opening of the checkpoint would fit the Georgian side
if the Russian market opened for Georgian products. It would then
simplify the shift of Georgian people. As far as Russian embargo is
imposed on Georgian products, and a visa regime works for Georgian
citizens, opening of the checkpoint will work only in one direction –
for Armenia, and will be less effective for economic and social sectors
of Georgia. In general, I am not against the opening of Zemo Larsi,
but taking into account that in this case the interest of Georgia is
nil and the Georgian side has not demanded adequate steps against the
opening of Lars, of course I cannot welcome it," declared Khukhashvili,
Civil.ge reports.

By and large, nobody really cares whether Upper Lars will fully operate
or not, apart from Armenia, who really needs the road. But how badly
we need it and how it will work is not clear, if we take into account
that we’ll still have to pay Georgia, or perhaps Russia too, for the
transit of goods. Thus, the economic benefits for Armenia, to put it
mildly, are not substantial. But all this, let us repeat ourselves,
is a purely political game, the main participants of which – the
South Caucasus countries – estimate it theoretically and view it
as inevitable.

We can presume the following scenario, which, though not very likely,
still exists as a hypothesis: Russia and Turkey have agreed that
the latter should exert pressure on Georgia in regard to opening
the checkpoint. In exchange, Russia will help Turkey, at least in
the Turkish-Iranian relations. Of course, she cannot help in the
Armenian-Turkish relations; nobody in the world can. When the U.S.,
European, and Russian officials say that the border problem should
be resolved by the states themselves, it is perceived as a kind of
evasion. But it is the reality, and it is also true about the Karabakh
conflict settlement. Anyone can be a mediator, but final agreement
is up to Stepanakert and Baku.

And what would give this possible scenario to Turkey herself?

Practically nothing, except for some political advantage. The same
is true about Russia. Nevertheless, the Upper Lars can serve as an
example for Ankara to unlock communications. In other words, it could
force Turkey to open the Armenian-Turkish border. However, not now,
not even six months later. Maybe in a year, but we must take into
account that now the world community has more serious problems to
worry about than the Armenian-Turkish border or the Upper Lars.

The world community is now more concerned about Iran and the apparent
deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations, U.S. relations with Russia
and China, the Palestinian issue, elections of the EU President and
much more. However, all of the above does not mean that the Caucasus
can be ignored, quite the contrary. Just it may so happen that with
the regulation of a number of world problems, the Caucasus and the
Middle East may come to some consensus.

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