Azerbaijan, Georgia mull energy, transport projects, regional co-op
By Ofeliya Afandiyeva
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia have discussed bilateral ties during the meeting held on the sidelines of the 8th trilateral meeting of the Azerbaijani, Turkish and Georgian foreign ministers in Tbilisi.
The ministers have spoke about the basis for further development of bilateral relations, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan export oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and other regional cooperation projects between the two countries.
The ministers emphasized that these projects will further contribute to the establishment of stability and security in the region.
Mammadyarov touched upon the strategic relations between the two countries and stressed the significance of the further development of ties.
In addition, the officials mentioned the potential of both countries, which enables to implement energy projects in the field of renewable energy sources.
The ministers exchanged views on the activity of the relevant state commissions on delimitation and demarcation of the state border between Azerbaijan and Georgia.
While speaking about the prospects of cooperation within various international organizations, the Georgian prime minister thanked Azerbaijan for supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity and invited Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to visit Georgia in 2020.
The parties also exchanged the views on a number of issues on the global security agenda.
It should be mentioned that within the 8th Trilateral Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, Tbilisi Statement was on December 23.
The document sets out concrete actions and plans in the common interests of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey in all areas, as well as mechanisms for trilateral cooperation.
Meetings in a trilateral format of cooperation were initiated by the foreign ministers of the three countries in 2012. The first trilateral meeting took place in 2012 in the Turkish city of Trabzon and the sides agreed to hold the next trilateral meeting in Azerbaijan.
The seventh meeting of the Foreign Ministers in the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey format took place in Istanbul in October 2018.
The three countries have been actively cooperating in the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project carrying gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas fields through Georgia and Turkey to Europe.
It should be noted that both countries as a former parts of Russian Empire and former republics of Soviet Union are full members of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). The two countries are among the founding members of GUAM in 1997.
Georgia and Azerbaijan have maintained cordial relations ever since the first establishment of their independent statehoods in 1918. On June 16, 1919, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and Democratic Republic of Georgia signed a first treaty.
In 1991, both Azerbaijan and Georgia restored their independence and diplomatic ties were established between them on November 18, 1992.
Cooperation with Azerbaijan is of great significance in terms of Georgia’s energy security. The two countries are connected by such important regional projects, as are Baku-Supsa (1999) and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (2006) oil pipelines and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas line (2006). Cooperation in the sphere of electric energy is also developing with great success.
Diversification of Georgia’s transport infrastructure and bringing it in compliance with the European standards is one of the most significant directions of Georgia’s Foreign Policy Strategy. In this context, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (2017) railway project is the most evident proof of successful cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan. Through the realization of the above-mentioned project, the railway systems of Georgia and Azerbaijan will be linked to the centralized railway network of Europe that is of geo-strategic importance to the Black and Caspian Sea regions.
It is worth to mention that the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Georgia reached $754,855,600 in January-September 2019.
Azerbaijan is Georgia’s fourth trade partner with 8.2 percent share in its trade turnover following Turkey, Russia and China.
In the reporting period, Georgia’s export to Azerbaijan amounted to $355,113,000, up 4 percent from the previous year. Azerbaijan’s share in Georgia’s export operations was 13.1 percent, the second largest export partner following Russia.
Georgian exports to Azerbaijan include cement, locomotives and other railway vehicles, mineral and chemical fertilizers, mineral waters, strong drinks, glass and glass wares, and pharmaceuticals, among other things. Azerbaijani exports to Georgia include oil and petroleum products, natural gas, plastic wares, waste foodstuff and furniture.
Azerbaijanis are largest minority group in Georgia and comprise 6.5 percent (284,761) of Georgia's population and mostly live in Kvemo Kartli, Kakheti, Shida Kartli and Mtskheta-Mtianeti. There is also a large Azerbaijani community in the capital city of Tbilisi. The Georgian minority in Azerbaijan is less sizable and they are known as Ingiloy.
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