Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border crossing point, which was closed down in July, 2006, will be reopened from March 1, 2010, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on February 26.
As two other land border crossing points with Russia are located in breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia considers Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border checkpoint as the only legally operating land crossing point between the two countries.
No Georgian visas will be available at the border crossing point. Georgian visas are issued to Russian citizens in airport and Georgian citizens have to apply for the Russian visa in advance to Russian interest section in the Swiss embassy.
Crossing the state border on foot through the Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi checkpoint will not be allowed. The border crossing point will operate every day 6:00am till 10:00pm within a period from March 1 to November 1 and from 7:00am till 7:00pm within a period from November 1 to March 1.
“Georgia does not expect any special economic or political benefit from reopening of this border crossing point,” Alexander Nalbandov, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said on February 27.
An agreement to reopen the border crossing point was reached as a result of talks held in October and December held in Yerevan and Kazbegi, respectively. The first meeting in Yerevan was held “through mediation” of Armenian officials, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry and the second was held in presence of Swiss mediators.
Armenia has been lobbying for reopening of the border crossing point to secure land access to Russia for its traders.
Land traffic through Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border crossing point was closed by Russia in July, 2006, citing the need to reconstruct the border infrastructure there.
The border crossing infrastructure on the Georgian side of the boundary was modernized with the U.S. assistance last year.
USD 2.4 million was spent on modernization efforts, involving adding of more traffic lanes to the border crossing station, installing modern search equipment, and constructing offices and barracks for the co-located Georgian Patrol Police and Revenue Service, as well as for installing of radiation equipment to detect radioactive materials.