Tuesday, June 6 2017 20:19
Alina Hovhannisyan

Transport-trade corridor "Abkhazia" under Swiss "mandate" can become a good alternative to "Upper Lars", "Apaven" expedition company head believes

Transport-trade corridor "Abkhazia" under Swiss "mandate" can become  a good alternative to "Upper Lars", "Apaven" expedition company head  believes

ArmInfo. With the complete  exclusion of the political aspect, the transport corridor that will  pass through Abkhazia may become an alternative to Upper Lars. The  director of the large transport and freight forwarding company Apaven  Gagik Aghajanyan expressed this opinion on June 6 at the press  conference.

"I've been waiting for the responsible people to present the real  results of the visit of our Prime Minister to Georgia, but we have  not heard anything, except for the words that the negotiations on the  implementation of the alternative to the Upper Lars transport  corridor project are in the working stage. I have long avoided  discussions about this issue, but due to the fact that calls and  questions from the media have increased, I decided to take  responsibility and speak," he said.

According to Aghajanyan's suggestion, during Karapetyan's stay in  Georgia, it was precisely this "Abkhazian" transport corridor, the  negotiations on which were started in 2008 between Russia and  Georgia. The idea is that, in the agreement between Georgia and  Russia on the launch of the transit corridor, Abkhazia as such will  not appear. Instead, the notion of a "trade corridor" that begins in  Georgia and ends in Russia will be introduced, and its exploitation  will take place through a third party, in this case, the Swiss  corporation SGS, to which the Georgian side at the customs point will  hand over the goods, after which it will be transferred in the  Russian Federation. The only condition for the agreement was that  there would be no mention of Abkhazia. According to the expert, to  date, while maintaining the same conditions, in particular, the  complete exclusion of political aspects, the implementation of this  initiative is quite possible. "For the first time I say confidently  and in a positive way about the opening of an alternative trade  corridor," he stressed.

Answering the question of the ArmInfo correspondent about the risks  of the project implementation, the head of APAVEN noted that in the  framework of these negotiations there are many persons interested in  its failure. "Those who oppose the restoration of the transport  communication (Aghajanyan did not specify the road or railroad  communication in question - Ed.) Through the territory of Abkhazia,  believe that this, albeit indirectly, will be recognition of this  territory as a separate state, independent of Georgia" he said.   According to the expert, some politicians speculate on this issue,  introducing themselves as big patriots, than there really is.  Aghajanyan stressed that the main obstacle in the implementation of  the project could be the political motives of the negotiators, each  of which will be guided solely by the interests of his country.  However, in this case, according to the expert, the interests of the  countries coincide. "Hence it is necessary to take advantage of the  uniqueness of this situation", he remarked.

To recall, the checkpoint "Upper Lars", located on the border with  the Russian side, and from the Georgian - the checkpoint "Daryal",  since the beginning of the 90s of the last century became the only  land transport road providing communication between Armenia and  Russia. The checkpoint is periodically closed - in the winter due to  avalanches, and in the spring - due to mudflows, despite the fact  that the Georgian side has done a lot of work to modernize the road  and ensure traffic safety. The former Minister of Transport and  Communications Gagik Beglaryan said in the summer of 2016 that it is  possible to open the road through the territory of South Ossetia:  "The road is in good condition, negotiations are being held  synchronously with both Tbilisi and Moscow, but very little depends  on Armenia in this case". The Armenian side has repeatedly raised the  issue of the possibility of opening the Abkhazian section of the  railway in talks, both with the Georgian and with the Russian side.  But these efforts were not successful either.

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