ArmInfo. Armenia starts thinking about an alternative road to Upper Lars. In the light of the Armenian-Russian talks in Moscow and the restrictions of the Stepantsminda-Lars road capacity, at today's sitting of the Government, Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan instructed Armenian Minister of Transport, Communication and IT Vahan Martirosyan to hold discussions with Russia and Georgia and to submit proposals on transportation via alternative routes to the Armenian Government by 1 March 2017.
Vahan Martirosyan told reporters that various options (particularly, via South Ossetia and Abkhazia) are being considered as an alternative to the current Georgian Military Road. "We are also discussing possible construction of a railway, however, at the moment we can say nothing specific," Martirosyan said.
To recall, during the press conference on December 19, Vahan Martirosyan said one should not consider the South Ossetian option as an alternative due to "political obstacles". It is noteworthy that the Armenian side has decided to return to this topic right after the Armenian governmental delegation's visit to Moscow. The minister did not say whether Yerevan has enlisted Moscow's support in this matter. When asked whether the "political obstacles" are removed and whether Moscow and Tbilisi have reached an agreement in this matter, Martirosyan replied, "Armenia is trying to accelerate these discussions".
Chairman of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen of Armenia Arsen Ghazaryan thinks that the prospect of opening of alternative routes to Russia via South Ossetia and Abkhazia is quire realistic. "The commodity turnover among the EEU countries is growing and the problems with the Upper Lars capacity are also growing not only due to climatic conditions, but also technical capacities of the checkpoint," Ghazaryan said.
It is noteworthy that the Upper Lars checkpoint on the border between Russia and Georgia has become the only land transport road linking Armenia with Russia. The checkpoint often closes because of snow in winter and mudflow in spring, although the Georgian side has carried out huge work for modernization of the road and ensuring traffic safety. Former Minister of Transport and Communications of Armenia Gagik Beglaryan stated in summer that it is possible to open the road through South Ossetia. "The road is in good condition, negotiations are being held both with Tbilisi and Moscow, however very little depends on Armenia in this issue".