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Life on both sides of Armenian-Georgian border2012-08-20 19:13
Cloudy morning, our correspondent arrived at the Armenian-Georgian border. Here, behind the Bavrinskiy customs checkpoint, the territory of Georgia begins. Next to Armenia there is located the Armenian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. The Armenians call it Javakhk. GTimes correspondent describes how the people live at the border between the two countries.
Life on both sides of the border is calm. The population is mainly occupied in agriculture, and now there is the height of the season. Locals often joke: "The city and the village are living differently. Citizens have a rest in the summer, when the villagers are working hard. "
As for the amenities for the passengers, Georgian customs office excels the Armenian one, especially in terms of its equipment with modern technology. At the Armenian checkpoint a driver passes registration and passport control in different places. In Georgia it is easier - all the documents are verified and registered in one "window", and the passengers do not even have to leave the car.
As has been repeatedly stated by the Armenian and Georgian authorities, the customs systems of both countries should be unified within the EU program on regional integration. The purpose of the program is to allow the citizens of both countries to deal with only one customs service. This thesis is included in the program of the Government of Armenia in 2012-2017.
But judging by the construction of the new checkpoints, one can say they are still far from the desired unification. Currently, only Georgian checkpoint is being modernized; and the Armenian border guards are working in the modest Soviet-built wagons, where there is even no adequate heating and lighting.
The history of building customs checkpoints at the Armenian-Georgian border on the Javakheti side after the Soviet collapse is quite curious. Witnesses say that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tbilisi (at least then) was for the establishment of border checkpoints in this area. "I remember how in the mid-1990s, a Tbilisi official came here and during a meeting with the representative of Armenia said that Georgia did not need a checkpoint there. However, due to the perseverance of the Armenian side, the checkpoint was built, since it gave income", a resident of Javakheti, Andranik, recalls in a conversation with GTimes.
According to him, the customs offices have always annoyed the Armenians from Javakheti, as well as from Armenia. "Throughout the 1990s, there always was a chaos at the customs offices on the Georgian side: everyone earned as he could. It was a "legal plunder"; especially it concerns the trailers that transported goods to Armenia. There were even times when the people, having common with the customs service, came here, blocking the road a rope, and extorted money from people. In particular, for this reason the locals have twice blown up and destroyed the customs checkpoint on the Georgian side, ", Andranik says. Now, he says, such acts are out of the question. Robbery came to an end: "people feel the irreversibility of punishment for crime".
Andranik says that despite large-scale construction of the customs checkpoint and road with Armenia, the life of the population of border villages has little changed. "Of course, the construction of the road with Armenia is a big plus. However, the people are engaged in agriculture using a backward technology, this especially concerns the cattle. The main source of income here is travel abroad for work, as well as the cheese production, both at home and in small shops in the area. This used to be earlier", our interlocutor summed up.