From Turkey to Russia ... through Georgia?23.04.2013 | 20:14
After the closure of the Sochi port for the period of preparation for the Winter Olympics, Turkey is looking for alternative ways to supply products to Russia. The shortest way is through the territory of Georgia. Moscow and Ankara are already considering the question of supply of goods, including agricultural products, through the Lars checkpoint. In addition to the overland route, Georgia is ready to provide the ports of Poti and Batumi for this purpose. Will the country manage to link transport corridors "North-South" and "East-West"?
Georgia may become a transit transport corridor not only from the East to the West, but also from the North to the South. Due to the fact that the port of Sochi is almost closed because of preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Turkey intends to supply goods to Russia via Georgia. Deputy Economy Minister of Turkey Bulent Ugur Ecevit has already handed the request of Turkish businessmen to the head of the Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert. Dankvert, in principle, does not oppose that, but for this it is necessary to equip the Lars checkpoint with a special laboratory for the effective monitoring of cargo.
"Implementation of such supplies will significantly reduce the load of the Russian port of Novorossiysk. Also, it will allow performing direct overland supply from Africa to Russia, which will considerably reduce the delivery time. At the suggestion of the Turkish side they intend to deliver 160 thousand tons of fresh fruits and vegetables each year through the Upper Lars," said in a statement of Rosselkhoznadzor.
Dankvert noted the relevance of the proposal, since last time the trade turnover between Russia and Turkey has increased significantly: agricultural products, meat, cheese, milk and dairy products. It is also noted that the parties have managed to reach agreement on key technical issues to ensure transit.
The main problem is that the road through the Cross Pass is closed in the winter, so if the parties really want to carry out this project they must hurry up. In addition to the overland route, it's about connecting the Georgian seaport of Poti and Batumi to the project. In fact, it turns out that they will perform the role of spare ports for Russia.
Thus, while the former leadership of Georgia was not only against Georgia's participation in the Olympic Games in Sochi but generally was against the Sochi Olympics, the current government not only welcomes the Games, but also agrees to provide the country's infrastructure for the delivery of goods destined for Russia, including roads, railways and ports.
Georgian experts welcome this decision, but talk about a specific problem. "Of course, Georgia should not just sit back and watching the goods crossing its borders," economic expert Alexander Tvalchrelidze said in an interview GeorgiaTimes. "It is necessary to think about rebuilding the infrastructure, roads, ports, and if possible the Georgian shipping company, which has long been virtually non-existent. I welcome this decision, it provides an additional opportunity for Georgia's economic development. This is a particular challenge for Georgia, and the country must give an adequate response. Until now, such a transit existed, but its amount was small, disproportionately small compared to the real possibilities of Georgia. As for profits, in addition to the direct financial benefit from the transit, it is also about the development of "secondary business" - cafes, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc. Look, how many such objects have been built on the road leading to Turkey. The same will also apply to this road," said the expert.
"As for the political side, I can say that while the former leadership opposed the Sochi Olympics today Georgian authorities to some extent help Russia to solve inconveniences caused by the Olympic Games. This can only mean one thing - one cannot act contrary to the opinion of the world community. A fractious child is always the loser. So I can call this decision pragmatic and professional," added Tvalchrelidze.
Former Georgian authorities repeatedly raised the question of the advisability of the Olympic Games in Sochi, near the border with the region considered occupied territory by Tbilisi. After Ivanishvili's coming to power Georgian government announced that the country's athletes were to participate in the Sochi Olympics. Ivanishvili's government also considers normalizing relations with Russia a priority of the foreign policy. First of all we are talking about the economic and cultural contacts. So far, the parties cannot reach agreement on the political issues related to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.