Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 28 / Trend E.Tariverdiyeva /
Georgia has managed to strengthen its energy security and reduce the energy dependence on Russia to almost zero with the help of Azerbaijan, newly appointed Georgian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Teymuraz Sharashenidze said in an interview with Trend.
"Azerbaijan's support is important in the implementation of the projects that are considered in the framework of the EU Eastern Partnership Program," he said.
Sharashenidze said the development of the initiatives of the Southern Corridor and the practical implementation of other global energy projects - Nabucco, Trans Caspian, White Stream and Euro-Asian Oil Transportation Corridor, will contribute to a significant increase of the energy security of the participating countries.
The Georgian side, he said, welcomes the Baku Declaration on the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector (AGRI) pipeline project signed by the presidents of the three countries and the Hungarian prime minister.
Based on this, the work is underway on financing and realization of the project on the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal, Sharashenidze said.
"The realization of these projects will provide diversification of energy supplies to Europe and strengthen the energy security of European countries," Sharashenidze said. "This is especially important now, when the North Africa providing a large part of energy to Europe is shaken by social revolts."
The Southern Corridor will be given more attention due to this, he said.
"In early October 2010, the Azerbaijani and Georgian sides signed a memorandum on cooperation between the two countries' power grids, which provides for the restoration of the Azerbaijani-Georgian high-voltage trunk line," he said.
He said it will be possible to export power to Turkey and further to Europe with Azerbaijan's accession to the Georgian-Turkish high-voltage trunk line.
Sherashenidze noted that Georgia greatly appreciates the involvement of Azerbaijani investments in the construction of high voltage power lines, as well as the implementation of works on designing commissioning of power plants of small and medium-sized capacities.
Sherashenidze believes the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) occupies a special place in the development of the economic relations.
"SOCAR is the leading foreign company on the transfer of taxes to the Georgian state budget," he said.
At the annual awards ceremony of the leading companies in 2010, Sharashenidze said, SOCAR took the first place in four categories: as the largest taxpayer company, the largest investor, the company having the best infrastructure at oil and oil-products terminals - a Black Sea terminal of Kulevi and the company with the best infrastructure of filling stations.
He said SOCAR as the company, which won the tender for the gasification of the Georgian regions of Georgia, except Tbilisi, undertakes gradual construction of the gas system in the country.
"We hope that soon the company will meet its obligations and in time finish updating and renovation of the entire gas system, thus making an immeasurable contribution in the improving of Georgian peoples' life and Georgian entrepreneurs' activities," he said.
Trade and economic relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan
The development of the Azerbaijan- Georgia trade and economic relations is an example not only for the South Caucasus region, Sharashenidze said.
"We have a strong and exemplary cooperation in this field. The trade turnover between our countries totaled $708 million over the past year. This figure rose by $162 million compared to 2009. Our goal is to use existing capacity and increase trade between our countries," he said.
"The energy sphere is given a particularly important role in our economic and trade relations," he said.
"The Georgian side is pleased to note the participation of the Azerbaijani capital in economic projects implemented in Georgia. Ongoing reforms in Georgia, such as combating corruption, simplification of procedures to start business activities, reformation of legislation on protection of foreign investments and liberation of capital from tax at the initial stage of the activities provide an opportunity for foreign investors to deploy their activities in Georgia without any risk," Sharashenidze said.
The countries give a special significance to the transport sector in the realization of strategic objectives, he said citing the "historic Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project" as an example.
"We are also pleased to note the increase in freight traffic along the TRACECA route with the use of land lines "Georgia-Azerbaijan ", with the subsequent delivery to the Central Asia countries," he added.
The Azerbaijani-Georgian dynamic relations in the field of tourism also should be noted. In 2010, the number of tourists increased by 17 percent and amounted to about half a million people compared to 2009, he said.
Georgia, Sharashenidze said, welcomes the participation of the Azerbaijani business in the tourist areas, as well as a free industrial zone - the city of Poti. On Feb.8, Baku hosted the presentation of the Poti free industrial zone, which caused great interest among the Azerbaijani entrepreneurs and businessmen, he said.
"In addition, it is reasonable to build collaborative efforts at the state and private sectors to deepen economic and trade ties: it is an intergovernmental commission, as well as business forums, individual business meetings and individual relations between firms. The process is underway, but we should improve it," Sharashenidze said.
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