Baku, Azerbaijan, March 11
By Vagif Sharifov, Anakhanum Khidayatova - Trend:
Trend Agency has had an exclusive interview with the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, who earlier arrived in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to take part in the Fourth Global Baku Forum.
The interview with the president touched upon such important topics as the relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan, stability in the South Caucasus, as well as cooperation in economy, tourism, transportation and energy industry.
Priorities of the Georgian-Azerbaijani relations
Speaking about the relations between his country and Azerbaijan, President Margvelashvili said he is very happy to be in Baku and see the city develop so rapidly and dramatically.
"I am happy to see our Azerbaijani friends and I am very happy to see once again my good friend [President of Azerbaijan] Ilham Aliyev," he said.
President Margvelashvili described the relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan as perfect.
"We have a longstanding partnership, which I would call a strategic partnership," he said.
Margvelashvili noted that this partnership is determining the future of not only Georgia and Azerbaijan, but also the future of many other countries.
He said the Georgia-Azerbaijan partnership has turned into a relationship that is influencing the countries in Europe and Asia.
"The great example that we have shown of the relationships between the neighbors is influencing the future of the Caucasus, influencing the future of Europe, influencing the future of the Caspian Sea, as well as Asia," added the president.
He also said this relationship has only perfect perspectives in the future, adding that the countries' leaders have to build a great future on the great past.
Margvelashvili also said the two countries' joint contribution to strengthening of stability in the region was discussed at his meeting with President Ilham Aliyev.
"President Aliyev and I see the future the same way. We think that we should bring opportunities and we should show the Caucasus as a region of opportunities, because that is the reality that we have to develop," he said.
He added that the great project of the Silk Road shows that the Caucasian and the Caspian-Black sea cooperation is really a crucial part of this very important process, and a very important part of the relations on the Eurasian continent.
"And in this respect what we offer to our partners is the closest and most efficient route for the delivery of not only energy supplies, but there are also the transportation projects, logistical projects," he added.
"So, by doing so we both believe that we build security and stability," he said. "It is not only economic benefits that we envision in this process, but it is the security benefits as well."
He added that in today's world, it is very important that other countries, and maybe the countries in different regions, are interested in having a stable route of supplies and communications.
Margvelashvili said Georgia and Azerbaijan, by strengthening their relations, by strengthening this part of the Silk Road, are bringing more stability into the region, and are bringing interest of dozes of countries located to both the east and the west of the Caucasus.
"So, that is how we look at this," he added. "Of course, both of us understand the complications that are in the region, the complications that have actually become even more complicated during the recent two years."
"But the complications have to be overcome by the great example of partnership of our two nations," he said.
Relations in tourism sector
Margvelashvili further said he and President Ilham Aliyev have discussed the tourism opportunities.
He described the tourism opportunities between the two countries as very interesting.
"Because people come to Azerbaijan, people come to Caspian Sea, people come to Georgia, and people come to Black Sea, and both of these regions are very interesting," he said.
"Those regions could be packaged together and we could think about doing packaged programs and packaged projects that could be more easily advertised and could bring more tourists," added the president.
He said both Georgia and Azerbaijan have great opportunities for historical tourism, for tourism that is related with resorts and with healthcare.
"And if we package these together, I believe that those projects and those products would be even more interesting," he added. "So, we agreed today that we would engage our appropriate agencies to cooperate in this direction."
He also spoke about the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project and recalled that the project is going to be completed at the end of this year.
"We look at this project not only as an economic project, but also as a great opportunity to share with our Azerbaijani, Turkish and Georgian friends," added Margvelashvili.
He said Georgia's transportation and communication infrastructure is also being developed jointly.
Further speaking about the economic cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan, President Margvelashvili said Azerbaijani partners are actively investing in the country's development.
"We are actually very thankful for the very active role of SOCAR [State Oil Company of Azerbaijan] in development of Georgia," said the president.
"We are very excited with opening of opportunities of the free trade agreement that we have with Europe to our Azerbaijani investors," added the president. "So, there are great opportunities, which we have to utilize."
"Energy is one of the most interesting areas for investment," Margvelashvili further said.
He added that Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia are in this bridge of energy cooperation and they are very actively developing not only gas and oil cooperation, but also the cooperation in the exchange of electricity.
"Georgia has great opportunities in agriculture, in tourism, by the way also in energy, in hydro-energy production," said the president. "So, all those opportunities are there and we are jointly developing them."
He also said the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey (AGT) Power Bridge Project is a very interesting project and a very important project for Georgia.
"And it has been discussed for a while and we are much interested in the project. Still we are developing the feasibility study of this, but I believe that the strategic partnership between Georgia and Azerbaijan - the strategic partnership that has been reflected in many projects - will be continued in this project as well," President Margvelashvili said in conclusion.