Azerbaijan, strategic partner of Georgia

By Nigar Orujova

Azerbaijan is a strategic partner of Georgia and this policy remains unchanged, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has told journalists, Azertag state news agency reported.

The Prime Minister described as “nonsense” statements by some political rivals alleging that Georgia will review its energy trade with Azerbaijan with the prospect of purchasing natural gas from Russia.

“There cannot be any talk about replacing Azerbaijani gas with natural gas from another country. Azerbaijan is our strategic partner. Reconsidering our mutual relations is not and cannot be a topic of discussion,” he said. “Further development and the strengthening of the strategic partnership with Azerbaijan is a priority for the Georgian government. Our policy toward Azerbaijan remains unchanged.”

Azerbaijan is Georgia’s main gas supplier, Garibashvili noted.

He also hailed the results of his recent Baku trip. “During the meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku we discussed close relations between the two countries and ways of deepening the ties even further.”

Earlier, a working meeting was held between the Chairman of the Board of Gazprom Alexey Miller and Georgia’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Kakha Kaladze in Brussels.

During the meeting, the sides discussed trade in natural gas. They also discussed the supply of Russian natural gas to Georgia, as well as its transit to third countries.

The current supply of Russian gas to Georgia is carried out only in the form of payments for its transit to Armenia, for which the country receives 10 percent of total shipments.

According to Kaladze, the negotiations with Gazprom include only a commercial component and do not interfere with the energy independence of the country, Georgia Online reported.

He also said that Azerbaijan is the strategic partner of Georgia. “Here we are talking only about commercial gas. As you know, the commercial market is regulated, and any company can go to Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, and to import natural gas at a reasonable price for it. There is no, was not and will not be restrictions on it,” said Kaladze.

Earlier, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan expressed its readiness to compete with Russia’s Gazprom company in the Georgian market. This was echoed by Mahir Mammadov, the head of SOCAR Energy Georgia, a subsidiary of SOCAR in Georgia.

“If Georgia decides to increase the supply of Russian gas, accordingly, we will be adapting to the new conditions and to develop further,” said the company head. “But in general, we are ready to compete.”

He noted that nevertheless, the strengthening of Gazprom in the Georgian market would not have a significant impact on SOCAR’s activities in this country.

The transit of gas supplies through Georgian territory is carried out anyway and this won’t have any affect, according to Mammadov. As for gas supplies to Georgia itself, gas volumes for consumption have been contracted for a fixed term.

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Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar

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