Armenia's Response: What Can Yerevan Do?

    • Comments - 25 December 2017, 22:32
Georgian prime minister’s important statement concerning Armenia

The Georgian Prime minister Georgy Kvirikashvili has announced in the Georgian parliament that under an agreement signed with SGS, the Swiss company, in case of emergencies on the road of Upper Lars it will be possible to implement transportation between Georgia and Russia via South Ossetia. Kvirikashvili said Turkey and Armenia can also use this option.

Interestingly, in January of this year the Georgian side made the opposite statement.

After another round of Russian-Georgian negotiations in January Armenia was excited about a statement by the Russian and Georgian sides on progress towards implementation of an agreement signed in 2011.

Afterwards Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan visited Georgia and announced during his meeting with the local Armenian community that there will be an alternative to the road of Upper Lars. During a press conference one year later Karen Karapetyan said they are working with the relevant stakeholders. Ostensibly, Georgia and Russia, who else?

After the statements in January Minister Abashidzeh negotiating on the Georgian side poured cold water on Armenia’s excitement. He said Armenia cannot expect benefits from these corridors because the agreement covers only the Georgian-Russian shipments.

It is not clear where the Russian-Georgian negotiations have reached and what progress has been reached in implementing the agreement but the statement of the Georgian prime minister on use of the corridor by Armenia can be considered progress. And the road in Lars is closed almost all winter, causing problems for shipments from Armenia to Russia which is the main market for Armenian goods.

Is the statement by the Georgian prime minister an achievement of hard work by the Armenian side in the past months or is Georgia making this statement for the Armenian side, expecting Yerevan to persuade its ally and partner in the EEU to agree to a compromise in this process?

The point is that the Georgian prime minister has also stated that for the time being Tbilisi gives its consent unilaterally because the Russian side puts forth unacceptable political claims. However, Georgia has announced likely to continue negotiations.

What can Armenia do? This is a question which is hard to answer. Can Armenia affect Russia’s stance and alleviate it, promoting fast implementation of the Georgian-Russian agreement? On the other hand, Armenia’s involvement causes Turkish-Azerbaijani counteraction, especially considering how strong the Azerbaijani lobby is in both Georgia and Russia.

On the other hand, the Georgian prime minister stresses the possibility of shipments for Turkey, perhaps to attract Ankara which also needs reliable roads to Russia.

At the same time, the Georgian prime minister has made another interesting statement in parliament regarding the kidnapping of the Azerbaijani opposition journalist Mukhtarli. A few months ago the Azerbaijani special services kidnapped him at the center of Tbilisi, seriously harming the reputation and security of Georgia. In fact, official Tbilisi was facing the need to explain the situation credibly and responsibly. A few months later the Georgian prime minister announced in parliament that it was the serious shortcoming of the Georgian special services whose leaders were dismissed and bore political responsibility for what happened.

Tbilisi thus made a responsible political step to restore its reputation, as well as its regional share of responsibility for security, demonstrating that it is not helpless before Baku.

There is not a direct link between these two statements but interestingly Georgia takes a step towards “freedom” from Baku on the one hand and sends a transport signal to Yerevan on the other hand.