Ambassador: Azerbaijan-Georgia economic cooperation yet to reach its potential - INTERVIEW
APA presents an interview with Dursun Hasanov, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Georgia
Q: This November marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia. Taking a look back, how do you feel about the development of relations between the two countries?
A: Relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia are based on historical roots. Both nations have historically lived in close and friendly neighborhood. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, both countries had the opportunity to regain independence. Though it was difficult to build relations in the early years of independence, the chaos in both countries and the incompetence of the political power of the time did not allow this to happen. But in 1993, the relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia entered a new stage with national leader Heydar Aliyev’s return to political power. The great leader attached great importance to relations with the neighboring states, including Georgia. Relations in the political, economic, energy, cultural and other areas began to develop. This development is still going on. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who is a decent successor to the national leader Heydar Aliyev, significantly improved bilateral relations between the two countries, with bilateral visits, a number of agreements and regional projects, and the two states supporting each other are evidence of it. Today relations are at a high level. Azerbaijan and Georgia are strategic allies, and both sides value these relations.
Q: What was the most remarkable event in respect of Azerbaijani-Georgian relations in 2017?
A: Relations between the two countries continued to develop throughout this year. Undoubtedly, the most important event of the year is the commissioning of the long-awaited Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway. On October 30 this year, the opening ceremony of the railway was held. This project will closely connect the regional countries both politically and economically and will give a new impetus to relations. The BTK project will play a role not only on a regional basis, but also as a bridge between East and West and will have a positive impact on the transportation of cargo from the East to Europe. According to estimates, it is planned to transport 1 million passengers and 6-7 million tons of cargo via this railway. The volume of cargo transportation between the two countries is expected to be increased in subsequent years. As for the field of energy, SOCAR Georgia this year also had a major share in the gas supply to Georgia. In general, Azerbaijan's exceptional contribution to providing gas to Georgia is undeniable, and I think that this will continue in the near future. This year Azerbaijan and Georgia jointly held numerous events dedicated to the economic, scientific, cultural and other spheres. For example, the opening of a memorial museum in Tbilisi of Azerbaijani public and political figure, write Nariman Narimanov, who was born in Georgia’s capital, the organization of exhibitions of several artists, as well as presentation ceremonies for a number of publications on Azerbaijan’s history and literature were highly effective for the development of bilateral relations. Among cultural events worth noting is the holding of an exhibition, titled “Live Life” in Tbilisi Dec. 9 on the initiative of Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva. This event attracted the attention of the Georgian art elite, residents of the city. The works by Leyla Aliyeva and other young artists made a great impression on the visitors of the exhibition.
Q: Has the existing potential of economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia been fully realized? What areas of cooperation need to be expanded further?
A: I think that the potential of economic cooperation between our countries has not been fully realized. At the same time it is worth noting that these relations are growing rapidly thanks to the political will and practical steps of the two countries’ leaders. Azerbaijan is one of Georgia’s main trading partners. Azerbaijan ranks first among the countries that heavy invested in Georgia.
So far, more than 100 documents have been signed between the two countries, 50 of which cover the economic sphere. More than 250 Georgian companies are registered in Azerbaijan, and over 1,200 Azerbaijani companies are registered in Georgia. I believe that the cooperation of Azerbaijani and Georgian companies would serve to develop business ties between the two countries. Therefore, holding joint events and forums in this direction is of great importance.
Q: The process of delimitation and demarcation of the borders between Azerbaijan and Georgia is progressing slowly. What is being done to reach an agreement on disputed territories? Is the intergovernmental commission’s meeting expected to be held in the near future?
A: Negotiations on this issue are underway. This is a long process that is not easy. The intergovernmental commissions will continue negotiations until a final agreement is reached. The next round of talks with Georgia is likely to be commenced next year.
Q: As you know, next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the first independent republics in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Is it planned to organize events in Tbilisi to mark the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR)?
A: This year President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed an order to mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). According to the order, Azerbaijan’s diplomatic missions and consulates abroad are to organize events to mark ADR’s 100th anniversary. A plan of events will be developed in this regard. Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Georgia also worked out a plan of events, according to which numerous events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic will be held not only in Tbilisi, where the Declaration of Independent was adopted, but also in other parts of Georgia in 2018.
Taking the opportunity, I want to congratulate our compatriots on New Year and 31 December – the Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijan. I wish them robust health, family happiness, prosperity and success.
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