ARMENIA AMID RUSSIAN-GEORGIAN TENSION

Mironov: Show Comprehension

Azg/am
2 Oct 04

It has been two weeks that the Russian-Georgian border remains
closed. Around thousand trucks heading for Armenia had to stop at the
Verin Lars passport control point. Moscow decided to close the border
after Beslan tragedy. Russian authorities point that Georgia and
Azerbaijan had their "input" in the tragedy and that hirelings and
terrorists from pass to Chechnya via their territory.

There are two Georgian checkpoints that unite Armenia with Russia,
Verin Lars and the tunnel of Roki. Diplomatic sources informed Azg
Daily that the tunnel is partly functioning. We were told that
Armenians manage to pass to South Ossetia (through Roki tunnel) by
bribing Russian frontier guards. But therethey have problems with
passing Georgian-Ossetian border. Georgia, in its turn, gives no
permission to cross the border, and the drivers have to stay in South
Ossetia for days.

Due to talks with Tbilisi's authorities 3 buses with Armenian
passengers were permitted to cross the border. The trucks transferring
special oil for the Yerevan nuclear power plant are also in South
Ossetia. Negotiations to get permission for the trucks are in process.

Sergey Mironov, chairman of the Council of Federation, who is paying
an official visit to Yerevan these days, said that he hopes that "the
Armenian authorities will show comprehension" in the issue of
Russian-Georgian border closure at the Verin Lars checkpoint. Mironov
defined this step as a "forced measure". "Terrorists penetrate Russia
via Georgia where they feel rather comfortable. This step (border
closure) is not directed against Armenia's good transportation, we now
the problems Armenia faces", Mironov said.

Knowing about Armenia's problems is valueless because, as Mironov put,
Armenia is blockaded by its military ally, though indirectly. Armenia
and Russia are surely friendly states but when should we use this
friendship if not today?

It is not clear yet as to when the Russian-Georgian border will
open. The customary service of Georgia stated yesterday that the
country lost $2.5 million because of the closed border. Considering
Armenian-Russian good circulation, we may say that Armenia lost even
more.

By Tatoul Hakobian