Trend's exclusive interview with Georgian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Zurab Pataradze
Dynamics of Georgian-Azerbaijani relations
Bilateral relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan are developing rapidly, said Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Azerbaijan Zurab Pataradze.
"There are big positive breakthroughs in our bilateral relations, and, I think, in the future, these relations will develop, strengthen and expand. The dynamics of Georgian-Azerbaijani relations are very positive," the ambassador added.
According to him, the development of trade and economic relations between the two countries is one of the important areas of bilateral cooperation.
"I want to note that in 2019, Georgia and Azerbaijan reached a new level of cooperation, overcoming a certain psychological barrier of over $1 billion in trade turnover. I believe that this is not the limit, and we have great opportunities and potential for cooperation in new areas," said Pataradze.
Azerbaijan is one of the main investors in Georgia, he stressed.
Having noted significant importance of regional projects and relations, Pataradze emphasized that mutually beneficial cooperation between the business communities of Georgia and Azerbaijan is also developing dynamically.
"Many Azerbaijani companies are registered in Georgia, as well as a significant number of Georgian companies operate in Azerbaijan. I think we have great potential in this regard, too. Our countries continue to create new joint ventures, identify new areas for cooperation," he noted.
Pataradze reminded that Georgia has signed a free trade agreement with the European Union and China, which opens possibilities to create new joint ventures.
Next Georgian-Azerbaijani business forum
The next Azerbaijan-Georgia business forum will be held in the near future in an online format with the support of the ministries of economy of Azerbaijan and Georgia, Pataradze said.
Pataradze added that the forum will discuss new areas of cooperation between the two countries and ways to create new enterprises, increase commodity circulation, attract more investments in the economies of both countries and develop their transit potential.
"The Silk Road passes through the territory of our countries, and Georgia and Azerbaijan are actively cooperating with the goal of increasing freight traffic from third countries including China, India and Central Asia states," the ambassador said adding that both countries have good prospects in this field.
Cooperation in the field of energy
"The South Gas Corridor (SGC) project, which provides for the transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe, will help attract additional investments in Georgia," Pataradze said.
"We are very pleased that the implementation of the South Gas Corridor project is in its final stages," the ambassador said noting its geopolitical importance for both countries.
“The Southern Gas Corridor is an integral part of the strategy for developing transit and economic potential of our countries. The project contributes to the creation of new jobs, implementation of infrastructure projects and economic development, and it also increases revenue to the budget,” the ambassador said.
The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) actively participates in new projects implemented in Georgia by gas supplies, Georgian ambassador to Azerbaijan added.
Patarazde said that gas supply including gas supply to high regions of the country is one of the priorities in the socio-economic development of Georgia, which contributes to the expansion of tourism infrastructure and the construction of new facilities.
"We are building new ski resorts and set up new enterprises; therefore, an uninterrupted supply of gas is among the key factors contributing to the country's development. SOCAR is actively cooperating with us in this sphere," Pataradze explained.
At the same time, SOCAR is one of the main taxpayers of the country, the ambassador noted.
According to Pataradze, SOCAR is actively involved in many areas including implementation of social projects.
"SOCAR is our reliable partner and we are confident that this cooperation will deepen and the projects launched will continue," the ambassador said.
Prospects of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project for Georgia and Azerbaijan
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway is one of the important projects that is reaching a new level today, said.
The number of goods transported via the railway is growing day by day, Pataradze added.
“The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway helps increase the transit potential of our countries,” the ambassador said adding that it is a good alternative to many other routes.
"The railway corridor has a great future, and we must make every effort to increase the recognition of this project," he noted.
Cooperation of Georgia and Azerbaijan in the port sector
Azerbaijan is taking very wise steps to diversify its economic potential, Pataradze stated.
According to him, one of the components of the economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia is to increase the countries' transit potential.
“The important economic gateway between our countries is the ports through which a large amount of cargo passes. Communication between the Caspian and Black Seas is very important, and sea transportation between our countries is increasing from year to year,” the ambassador said.
Pataradze noted that an important area of cooperation between the ports of the two countries is the implementation of the “single window” principle.
"This will enable both countries to monitor all cargoes arriving at our ports online to ensure prompt delivery of goods," he said.
Prospects for Georgian-Azerbaijani relations amid coronavirus pandemic
During each crisis, new areas of interest are revealed, and in this regard, Azerbaijan and Georgia will make every effort to bring these opportunities to life, Georgian ambassador said.
He praised the state bodies of both countries, which are taking steps to provide assistance to their needy citizens.
"During the pandemic, freight traffic between the two countries did not stop for a day. Georgia and Azerbaijan are making every effort to ensure that all goods reach their destinations," the ambassador said.
Cooperation in tourism
Tourism plays a significant role in Georgian-Azerbaijani relations, Pataradze said.
"Georgia positively ended 2019 from the point of view of the tourism industry; over 9 million tourists visited our country. I think this is not the limit and these figures will continue to grow, while tourism potential between our countries will also increase," said the ambassador.
According to Pataradze, by the decision of both parties, work is underway to create a single tourist route between Azerbaijan and Georgia, including the creation of a single tourist package for citizens of third countries willing to visit Azerbaijan and Georgia at the same time as part of their vacation.
"That is, if a person has a ten-day tour package to one country, then he or she can rest five days in Georgia and spend five days in Azerbaijan, get to know the culture of both countries and taste the wonderful Azerbaijani and Georgian cuisines," the ambassador noted.
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