Good-neighbourliness of the peoples of Azerbaijan and Georgia that has grown into a strategic partnership

06.10.23 14:10

There is no other country in the world today that is as important to Georgia as strategic cooperation with Azerbaijan. The friendship and good-neighbourliness between the two countries has been tested by time, first of all in the most difficult 1990s, when both countries, after gaining independence, faced the challenges of separatism. At that time, energy supplies from Azerbaijan to Georgia helped our country to preserve its economic sovereignty. After all, it is no secret that in addition to separatism, energy and gas blackmail was used against Georgia.


Azerbaijan and Georgia established diplomatic relations on 18 November 1992 after gaining independence. And for more than 30 years after the establishment of these relations, Azerbaijan and Georgia have always supported each other on international platforms. First of all, Azerbaijan has been and continues to be a strong supporter of the restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity, the de-occupation of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region and the return of Georgian refugees to their homes, just as Georgia has been a strong supporter of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the highest level in the international arena.

In the UN and international organisations, Azerbaijan has always taken Georgia's side on fundamental and important issues. In particular, it has always voted in favour of the return of Georgian refugees in the UN General Assembly. Armenia, by the way, has never voted in favour, and until 2019 it has voted every year against the return of Georgians displaced by separatists and occupiers.

It is important to note that Georgian society welcomed the restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity with joy and enthusiasm, which gives hope for the restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity as well.
On the economic front, Azerbaijan is one of the main investors in the Georgian economy. In general, the volume of Azerbaijani investments in Georgia exceeds $3.5 billion and is constantly growing. Only the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) has invested more than $1.5 billion in Georgia.

Azerbaijan, represented by SOCAR, is the main supplier of natural gas to the Georgian domestic market, ensuring the competitiveness of the Georgian economy and completely freeing it from gas dependence on other countries. Not only is SOCAR actively developing the gasification of the remotest regions of Georgia, it is also taking unprecedented steps to support all religious institutions in Georgia, providing free heating to churches, mosques and synagogues.

In return, Georgia has made its territory available to Azerbaijan for the transit of oil and gas to Europe. And it is through Georgia that Azerbaijan has the shortest "exit to the Black Sea" and access to the promising markets of EU countries.

Heydar Aliyev, the national leader of Azerbaijan, has done much to establish strategic cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan. When Heydar Aliyev became President of Azerbaijan in October 1993, Georgia had just survived the disaster in Abkhazia and had over 300,000 destitute refugees. Georgia had a catastrophic shortage of energy resources, and this was the country's greatest need for assistance and support. Azerbaijan, under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev, was the first to come to Georgia's aid, despite its own problems and the war in Karabakh.

In addition, Azerbaijan, through joint transit projects developed on the initiative of Heydar Aliyev, has ensured that serious international investors are increasingly interested in Georgia as a very attractive country for investment in infrastructure. The myth of Georgia as a supposed "failed state" was shattered, which gave a boost to Georgia's economic development.

The international projects launched under Heydar Aliyev in the 1990s necessarily implied Georgia's participation and consideration of its interests. This applies first and foremost to energy transit.

As part of the "Contract of the Century" for the development of the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli fields, an agreement on the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline was signed in March 1996 during the first official visit of Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev to Georgia. This oil pipeline was built in three years and began transporting oil in April 1999.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline became the next stage of strategic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia. It was initiated by Heydar Aliyev following the signing of a declaration in Ankara on 29 October 1998. Construction of the pipeline began on 18 September 2002. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was commissioned in 2006.

The transit of oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia has continued to grow, as has the construction of new infrastructure. The construction of a new oil terminal in Kulevi, which became operational in 2008 and now handles 2 million tonnes of Azerbaijani oil per year, should be mentioned here.

There is a huge potential for cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia in the field of gas transit, especially within the framework of the Southern Energy Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor fundamentally changes the geopolitical situation in Europe. During his visit to Georgia last year, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev paid special attention to the prospects for the growth of energy transit through Georgia, especially gas transit. According to him, "there are opportunities and plans to export almost 20 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Europe by 2027".

The construction of the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line has become a symbol of fruitful cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan in the development of international transit routes. It now has every prospect of becoming a key route for transporting goods to Europe via the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The fruitful cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan is not only economic, but also humanitarian. The attention paid by Azerbaijan to the Georgian community living in the Gakh-Zakatala district deserves special mention. Here, everything has been done to enable the Georgians in Azerbaijan to study freely in their mother tongue, to develop their culture and identity. Incidentally, this has been done for all ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan without exception. Recently, a modern Georgian school was opened in the Gakh district of Azerbaijan, where the Ingiloy Georgians live.

And this year, at the beginning of May, a Georgian delegation came to Gakh, where together with local Orthodox Georgians, citizens of Azerbaijan, they took part in Orthodox services on the feast of St George. At the same time, the Azerbaijani government restored St George's Cathedral in the Gakh district using state funds.

It should be noted that everything is being done in Georgia to make Azerbaijanis living in the country feel like full citizens, and much is being done to fully integrate Azerbaijanis into Georgian society. Azerbaijanis in Georgia are patriots of the Georgian state. Recently, much has been done for the economic development of the areas densely populated by Azerbaijanis in Georgia, especially in Kvemo Kartli. The friendship and strategic partnership between Georgia and Azerbaijan has every prospect for further development and strengthening.

Irakly Tsiklauri

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