Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia, comments on ever warming relations between the Caucasian neighbors.
Georgia and Azerbaijan are obliged to stand together given their geographic location and common history. We share a common view and we have strong relations. I am convinced that these two countries will be able to create a much better future for themselves through their unity, exemplary relations, and successes.
Both countries have been fragmented by internal conflicts and both continue to be plagued by unresolved problems. Any opponent of Azerbaijan or Georgia is an enemy of both these countries. Our strength is in unity. This is not just what’s written on our coat of arms, it is the truth. Those who seek to undermine this unity are opposing our country’s interests. Our countries’ interests lie in strengthening this strategic partnership.
The long-term cooperation we have established has already yielded positive results between Baku and the Georgian city of Batumi. Businessmen from Baku work in Batumi, and at the same time business people from Batumi work in Baku. The vessels that have left the port of Batumi are already on their way. This is also the result of cooperation between Baku and Tbilisi. All this is part of our cooperation program. At present, very positive changes are taking place in Baku, and we are very pleased to see them. Development is also under way in Batumi.
An office for the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) is currently being opened in Batumi, with the consent of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and we are absolutely sure that this office will operate successfully.
The Baku-Tbilisi (Akhalkalaki)-Kars railway project signals a geopolitical transformation in our region because a completely new strategic link is opening not only between Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, but also Central Asia, China, and Europe. Effectively, a modern version of the Silk Road is emerging. This is a project that will take several hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investment, but in the future it will bring in revenue worth billions. This is a project that will certainly be a major guarantee of successful long-term development for each of us.
This is not just economic progress; this is important strategic progress for our countries. Everyone should take this into account. This is an alternative for Europe, this is a road for oil and gas for Europe as well as a railway and a normal highway, because we are building many roads. We are renovating our Soviet roads enabling China to access Europe via Azerbaijan and Georgia. This is a completely new dimension for our European partners. These are the achievements that are happening now and this is why we are calling this a historic age. We were a region that had almost turned into a dead end, but now we are a region that is needed not just by us but also by others, and that is our special, historic, political, geographic, and economic mission.
As a result of cooperation with Azerbaijan and Turkey, as a result of a very courageous decision by the Azerbaijani government, Georgia will have an alternative gas supply that provides an increasing share of our gas needs. That means that, unlike many Eastern European countries, we will have a more reliable and cheaper alternative gas supply. Thanks to Azerbaijani gas, 70% of Georgia’s needs are met.
Our relations are broader than ordinary ties. Our two countries have been friends for many years. This friendship has a long history and has passed many ordeals. In January 2008, when Georgia, for reasons completely incomprehensible to me, had its gas and electricity supplies cut off, Azerbaijan decided, in the worst days of a record-breaking cold winter, to reduce supplies to many of its own citizens and supply Georgia so that its people would not freeze. Georgia will never forget Azerbaijan’s help when the Georgian people found themselves in a dire situation in a bitter winter. I am absolutely sure that the people of Georgia will never forget this help. We will never forget this help because it was provided at the most difficult time in Georgia’s history. Azerbaijan made a very important decision then and came to Georgia’s aid in its hour of need. This is not only a result of our strategic partnership, but is also a symbol of our fraternity. We have even established confederative relations.
All this has become possible thanks to our friendship. There are no problems between our countries. In recent years our relations have reached the highest possible level, and we will continue working on that. Of course, the foundation of these relations was laid by Heydar Aliyev, and we will do our best to ensure that the relations of friendship we have had for centuries develop further. Thanks to Heydar Aliyev’s strategic views, these relations have become stronger. As a result of the tremendous effort made by President Ilham Aliyev, they have strengthened even further. We are absolutely sure that these relations will develop in the interests of stability in our region.
I believe this is a new start of a very great partnership, friendship and brotherhood. Long live the friendship between Georgia and Azerbaijan.
© The Business Year