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Georgia’s regional policy

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, December 18
It was announced in Tbilisi that before the end of this year, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili will visit Azerbaijan. This event puts forward the question of Georgia’s regional policy. This is a very interesting issue because Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili initiated certain moves in this direction.

Saakashvili’s major idea (in particular after the August War with Russia in 2008), became the idea of a United Caucasus. He highlighted Georgia’s importance several times in case of establishing a type of a Caucasus unity though no organizational details were ever suggested.

For instance, some years ago Saakashvili suggested to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to create a kind of a confederation. However, official Baku did not adequately respond to Saakashvili’s offer. Armenia considers the possible confederation between Georgia and Azerbaijan as a direct anti-Armenian step.

It is known that Ivanishvili’s forthcoming visit to Azerbaijan is the first regional visit of the current PM. According to the timetable, he will meet Azeri PM Artur Rasizade and President Alyev.

Georgia and Azerbaijan are strategic partners but this does not mean the two countries have no problems. One of the major issues creating certain problems is the fact that natural gas supply and distribution in Georgia is in the hands of the Azeri state company SOCAR. This company is the major importer of fuel to Georgia as well.

The other problem is the border issue– namely Davit Gareji territory. Its relations with Azerbaijan should always be balanced by Georgia’s relations with Armenia because the latter is of vital importance. Georgia is the only transit way connecting Armenia with Russia by land.

Armenia and Russia are strategic partners but they do not have direct land connection; that creates serious problems for Armenia.

Yet another problem for Georgia in the regional respect is its relations with the northern Caucasus and the peoples living there under the administration of the Russia Federation. Some aspects in this regard irritate Moscow, like the recognition by the Georgian Parliament of the genocide of the Cherkez people, as well as the creation of special TV channel PIK, which is specially transmitted to the north Caucasus peoples.

So far the Georgian Dream politicians have not openly declared precise highlights of the future relations with the northern Caucasus states. So the Georgian PM’s visit to Baku looks like a very interesting event which may provide some answers to a few of these questions.