GEORGIA SAYS READY TO RESTORE TRAFFIC THROUGH UPPER LARS CHECKPOINT

ARKA
May 26, 2009

YEREVAN, May 26. /ARKA/. Georgia stands ready to negotiate with Russia
over opening Kazbegi-Upper Lars checkpoint near the Georgian-Russian
border, said Shota Gvineriya, official representative of the Georgian
Foreign Ministry.

The official ceremony of opening the newly constructed international
checkpoint Upper Lars took place early this month. The only checkpoint
on the Russian-Georgian border had been closed for repairs since
July 2006.

However, the checkpoint is not operating properly due to the
Russian-Georgian conflict.

"The Swiss Embassy informed us about Russia's initiative to launch
negotiations over restoring traffic through Upper Lars and Georgia
supports this initiative, Novosti-Georgia quoted Gvineriya as saying.

Experts are to open negotiations over the checkpoint's opening. Russia
closed Kazbegi-Upper Lars checkpoint in July 2006, citing the necessity
of capital repairs. Official Tbilisi regarded this decision as a
political sanction against Georgia, with Russia restricting Georgian
imports in the Russian markets.

According to Russian experts, 400 vehicles can pass via Upper Lars
every day with 14 traffic lanes.

Armenia is particularly interested in opening of Upper Lars as the
only transport route lining the country with Russia.

Georgia broke diplomatic relations with official Moscow after Russia
recognized South Ossetia's independence last20August. On the night
of August 8, Georgian troops stormed South Ossetia, destroying part
of Tskhinvali capital.

Protecting peaceful citizens (most of them had a Russian citizenship),
Russia sent forces to the republic and dislodged the Georgian troops
from the region.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress