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New stage of relations with Azerbaijan

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, December 28
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili concluded his visit to Azerbaijan on Thursday. According to Ivanishvili, the Georgian-Azeri sides have discussed various issues concerning the deepening of relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister has also outlined the importance of drawing a demarcation border line between the two states.

Currently, Georgia has a secure border agreement only with Turkey, while the process of creating a secure border with Armenia and Azerbaijan is still ongoing. Disputes relate back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the internal republic borders dictated by Moscow. There are definite areas causing controversy between the neighboring countries and these unsolved issues remain an ongoing problem for Georgia.

“We will manage and draw the demarcation line without any scandal,” stated Georgia's PM. According to him, the issue will be solved through negotiations by the two states.

Ivanishvili emphasized that friendly relations with Azerbaijan and the country’s attitude towards Georgia makes him believe that the process will be successfully concluded.

“Each country should have clear borders. Of course solving the issue will take time, however, ascertained borders will remove a lot of problems in future,” said Ivanishvili.

The Prime Minister also emphasized that Azerbaijan has its borders ascertained and highlighted the ruling government’s merit in this regard.

“Azerbaijan has achieved so much. The country has a government which has cared deeply for its people and the outcome is obvious…our former government was just speaking, while the Azerbaijan leadership was acting for development,” Ivanishvili said.

The Kars-Akhalkalaki railway project will proceed after the decision was finalized through an official meeting. According to the Minister of Economy, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the project will be a positive influence on Georgia's economic advancement.

Both sides also spoke on the import of electricity. According to the Minister of Energy, Kakhi Kaladze, Georgia receives its electricity from Russia and there is the need for the country's electricity to be imported from Azerbaijan as well.

Regarding the gas tariff the Prime Minister thanked Azerbaijan for selling gas to Georgia at a low price. According to Ivanishvili, the decrease in the gas tariff was not discussed during the meetings due to this reason.

“We should find some way from within the country to achieve a decrease in the gas tariff,” Ivanishvili stated.

According to Azeri MP, Asim Molazade, the Georgian Prime Minister’s visit to Azerbaijan will further expand the countries' relations.

“Our relations are on a new stage. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey have created a new form of collaboration. Through these collaborations, various projects are being implemented in the region. I think that Ivanishvili’s visit will give additional stimulus to the relations,” Molazade said.

“The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (Kars-Akhalkalaki section) railway will increase Georgia's transit role, because the country will transport 20 million tons of cargo, including oil products,” stated analyst Nika Chitadze.

According to Chitadze, the project will strengthen the relationship and cooperation with the neighbors and strategic partners of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

"We know that Turkey accounts for about 15% of Georgian turnover. Georgia will receive additional profit and in addition, it will facilitate the transportation of goods to Europe and back. However, Georgia does not finance the construction, and the main part of the project is funded by Azerbaijan.

According to Kornely Kakachia, director of the Georgian Institute of Politics, it is unlikely that Georgia might change its strategic relations with its close partners like Azerbaijan and Turkey.

“Strategic relations between Baku and Tbilisi were never dependent on personalities, so one should not expect any changes in bilateral relations especially when the both countries share common strategic views on various issues. So far anticipating the Georgian withdrawal from its strategic friendship with Azerbaijan, hinted at by some Azeri experts, is far from reality in my mind,” Kakachia said.