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Compiled by Liana Bezhanishvili
Friday, March 5
Mamuka Areshidze: There are three reasons why Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi checkpoint should not be reopened

In an interview with Rezonansi Caucasus issues expert Mamuka Areshidze has stated: "I do not say that the border should not be reopened. I think it should, but not under these conditions. I think this decision, like many others made by the Government, is too hasty. The border should not be reopened until all the risks associated with doing so have been eliminated. There must be social and economic rehabilitation of the Kazbegi region and other issues concerning this region must be resolved.”

“The first and the most important reason why I consider Georgia is not ready to reopening this border is the organisation Dariali, which has been active for a long time in North Ossetia. Its main aim is to make Kazbegi part of North Ossetia. This organisation’s members are former Ossetian residents of the Kazbegi region. Serious political forces stand behind this organisation, I mean the North Ossetians leadership,” stated Mamuka Areshidze.

“The second reason is the danger of provocations. Why was the border opened? We took Armenia into consideration because it is our neighbour and our Javakheti problem might decrease because of this. But I think Russia is also very interested in reopening the Larsi border. It is very expensive for Russia to supply its military base on Armenian territory. This is why they supply the base from the air,” added Mamuka Areshidze.

“The third and most important reason is that the social and economic situation of Kazbegi is poor. Today only about 1,500 people remain in Kazbegi, including Russian citizens and people taking a pension from Russia'" Areshidze stated.

Asked whether Russia would conduct provocations in the Kazbegi region now the border is open, Areshidze said: "I know the Russian plan for Georgia. Russia wishes to take Mtianeti before diplomatic relations are reestablished. This process has been already begun as it has taken Abkhazia, South Ossetia and part of Tusheti and now it wants to take Kazbegi. If they take Kazbegi they will be able to control the Georgian military highways. This is the Russian plan. That is why Georgia has to think about many things when reopening this border."

Vladimir Bukovsky –neither NATO nor the USA will ever start World War III for the sake of Georgia

"I visited French President Nicolas Sarkozy eight months before the August War of 2008. He said to me directly that we should recognise the independence of Kosovo. I told him that this might provoke Russian aggression in the Caucasus," well-known dissident and writer Vladimir Bukovsky states in an interview with Kvela Siakhle.

"'Are you ready for this?' I asked Sarkozy, but his answer was inadequate: 'I will go to Putin and talk to him,' he said. Sarkozy was not ready to face such complicated political processes or may not even have cared what would happen after the recognition of Kosovo. Finally he told me, referring to Putin: 'How can a person who loves women and life so much be bad? (!)'," Bukovsky says. "The mistake your Government made was to commence hostilities in the Tskhinvali region but the situation was unstable there anyway," he adds.

Asked about Georgia's NATO prospects while major European countries are taking so much notice of Russia, Bukovsky answers: "I am not sure that NATO membership will be the guarantee of security anyway. I assure you, neither NATO nor the USA will ever start World War III for the sake of Georgia. You should fight for freedom yourselves."