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Azerbaijani, Georgian leaders meet to map economic, regional cooperation

azernews.az

November 10, 2015

 

Azerbaijan, an energy-rich country in the South Caucasus region, is developing at a fast pace due to its initiating huge energy projects and bringing various countries together to fit as if they were the rings of a chain. And the main factor that should be noted is that this country gains significant successes despite being in an actual state of war, with 20 percent of its territories being under Armenian occupation.

Azerbaijan, an active player in the region, successfully carried out large energy projects, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi Erzurum gas pipeline, as well as the giant Southern Gas Corridor, made up of the Trans-Anatolian and Trans-Adriatic gas pipelines, through model partnerships with Georgia and Turkey.

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey have created a troika -- one producing blue fuel, the second using territory for transportation, and the last delivering it to European consumers. Each of these three countries has a separate role in ensuring the energy security of European countries.

In this context, President Ilham Aliyev's two-day official visit to Georgia on November 5 to 6 is of significant importance in terms of implementation of the major infrastructure projects, such as the Southern Gas Corridor and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.

The prospects of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia in various sectors were high on the agenda of high-level talks held between President Aliyev and his Georgian counterpart, Giorgi Margvelashvili.

During a one-on-one meeting, President Aliyev and President Margvelashvili expressed satisfaction with the successful development of bilateral relations and expressed confidence that relations between the two countries would even further develop.

The Azerbaijani president's official visit to Georgia was viewed as important in terms of expanding bilateral ties, as well. During their meetings, the sides exchanged views over issues regarding international, bilateral and mutual interests.

Also, in an expanded meeting, the two presidents discussed cooperating in economic, infrastructure, energy, humanitarian and other sectors.

President Aliyev expressed his confidence that the results of the visit will be beneficial in deepening and strengthening relations between the two countries

“Georgia is a friendly country and strategic partner for us. We are successfully cooperating in various fields, and this cooperation is gradually deepening. We want the bilateral ties to develop faster and to cover all sectors. There are a number of issues on the agenda, including a concrete program and mechanism for carrying out each issue. We will discuss these issues at an expanded meeting with great pleasure,” President Aliyev said.

After the one-on-one and expanded meetings, the two presidents signed a Joint Declaration on deepening bilateral cooperation in political, security, trade, economic, culture, education and science fields, and made statements for the press.

President Margvelashvili said President Aliyev's visit to Georgia was very important, in terms of deepening strategic partnerships between the two countries.

“Today, we discussed a strategic cooperation connecting us with Azerbaijan, and far-reaching plans in relation to the Caspian Sea, as well as the Black Sea. We spoke about the deepening of transport and energy projects," he said. "We have signed a joint declaration, which will also contribute to strengthening cooperation, in terms of security, trade and economics, transport and cultural relationships."

He also noted that relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia are based upon the spirit of good-neighborly relations, withstanding challenging reviews, and the foundation of these relations is deepened by intergovernmental relations during the major projects carried out together.

"We are grateful, not only for the partnership, which ties us with Azerbaijan, but for those projects which are carried out in Georgia by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan seriously supports Georgia’s economy. All Georgians knows the support Azerbaijani partners provide for kindergartens, churches, various educational and sports projects, and in this regard we are grateful. In turn, the Georgian people will always stand with the fraternal Azerbaijani people," Margvelashvili added.

In his remarks, President Aliyev said the Joint Declaration will determine the prospects of development of relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia.

"The unity of the two nations, and our common history and brotherhood, lays the basis for our ties. The Declaration reflects the very specific provisions on the prospects for development. We are successfully cooperating within international organizations. We support each other in all matters, particularly in matters related to the countries' territorial integrity. There are excellent opportunities for further cooperation in international organizations. I am confident that the two countries will continue to consistently support the position of each other," he said.

President Aliyev also noted that the declaration reflects very accurate expressions related to the settlement of conflicts.

"All conflicts, including the conflicts that occurred on the territory of Georgia and Azerbaijan, should find a solution within the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries, and the inviolability of borders. They should be resolved on the basis of the decisions and resolutions of international organizations. For many years, the primordial and historical land of Azerbaijan - Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions have been under occupation. Unfortunately, the conflict remains unresolved, despite the fact that all influential international organizations have adopted resolutions and decisions on the settlement of the conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," he added.

President Aliyev went on to add that, today, Azerbaijan and Georgia successfully cooperate in the economic sector.

"We want the trade turnover to increase even more. Of course, the common interest is quite high. Azerbaijan makes huge investments in Georgia. Georgia is a very attractive country for making investments. An excellent investment climate has been established in your country. I want to cordially congratulate you, on this occasion," he said.

Azerbaijan has long been one of Georgia’s largest trade partners. The trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $1.35 billion in 2014.

Azerbaijan primarily exports petroleum, petroleum oils and gases, gypsum, anhydrite, plaster and other products to Georgia, while automobiles, live bovine animals, bars and rods of iron, and cement are the largest categories of imported goods from Georgia to Azerbaijan.

President Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan and Georgia are enthusiastic about implementing the Southern Gas Corridor project.

"We once again expressed our will: these issues, these projects, should be implemented in the short term, in particular, the Southern Gas Corridor, which is being successfully implemented today. If oil and gas pipelines, such as the Baku-Supsa, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipelines, and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline were not built at the time they were, today there would be no reason for the Southern Gas Corridor. Today, the Southern Gas Corridor is of the greatest economic and political importance for Georgia and Azerbaijan and Europe. This project is being successfully implemented. I am sure that Azerbaijani gas will be delivered in 2018 to Turkey, and in 2020 to Europe in even greater volumes. This is a very big project. I believe that this is the largest energy project being implemented in Europe today. There are also plans to make investments in the amount of at least $45 billion to implement the Southern Gas Corridor," he said.

Azerbaijan and Georgia enjoy long-standing and successful cooperation in the energy sector. Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR is deeply involved in the energy market of the neighboring South Caucasus republic.

President Aliyev also expressed confidence that Azerbaijan, with its proven gas reserves of 2.6 trillion cubic meters, will be able to provide itself and neighboring countries, as well as European countries, with natural gas in large volumes for at least 100 years.

"Of course, as a joint activity of Azerbaijan and Georgia, our common position will demonstrate greater reliability of this corridor in the future. Thus, the geopolitical importance of our countries is increasing. Of course, our revenues will increase, as well," he noted.

President Aliyev also urged Georgia to pursue a common tariff policy to substantially increase the volume of cargo being transported.

"Today, at the expanded meeting, I said that recently a Coordination Council engaged in transit cargoes had been established in Azerbaijan. We want Georgia and Azerbaijan to hold the same positions in the field of cargo transportation. We could pursue a common tariff policy to substantially increase the volume of goods passing through the territory of the country. This is possible. I believe that in the future, joint presentations could be conducted in those countries where goods could be delivered. In today's world there is a struggle for these goods. The main thing is that it is a healthy struggle and healthy competition. In this regard, the transit opportunities proposed by Georgia and Azerbaijan, of course, will be greatly preferred," he added.

Thus, the economic aspects of the Azerbaijani-Georgian relations were fully reviewed. Another main focus of President Aliyev's visit to Georgia was his meeting with the Azerbaijani community living in Georgia.

During the visit, President Aliyev and President Margvelashvili visited the “Tea House” training center and toured a cold storage complex in Marneuli district densely populated with Azerbaijanis.

President Aliyev also held meetings with Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church Ilia II, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament David Usupashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, as well as former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

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