Interview with the Georgian Prime Minister, Zurab Nogaideli
Question: How do you estimate the current level of mutual relationships between Azerbaijan and Georgia? What are your visions on the strategy of Azerbaijan-Georgian partnership in the political and economic spheres in the near future?
Answer: Azerbaijan and Georgia have always had model relationships, based on historically fraternal links between the two countries, partnership and mutually profitable cooperation set up in spheres of interstate interaction.
Nevertheless, I think we still do not utilize the potential of cooperation in the necessary level.
Fortunately, firm foundation has been laid through the efforts of our Presidents, who have good relations, for the achievement of new quality partnership up to contemporary requirements and realities.
The area of cooperation covers political, as well as economic spheres, regional cooperation and interaction in the international organizations.
Question: Georgian President Mikhael Saakashvili has recently issued a decree on the development of proposals targeting the improvement of socio-economic state of the Azerbaijani community of Georgia. Which concrete measures are taken in this direction?
Answer: The state of national minorities is on focus of the Georgian authorities.
The President and government of country have adopted several important resolutions on further improvement of state of our co-citizens, mainly those residing in Kvemo-Kartli region.
Their integration into the countryвЂ™s political life, active part in the state government and different processes assume special importance.
For instance, a school on training of administrative personnel named after Zurab Zhivania opened in Kutaisi at the PresidentвЂ™s initiative. The school will train administrative personnel including the representatives of the Azerbaijani community of Georgia, different national minorities with respect to their appointment to high state positions, ministries and administrations, local executive bodies, they can best represent their communityвЂ™s interests.
Our key objective is to attract investments, develop infrastructure, create new jobs, which would enable to improve considerably the welfare of the people.
Question: The Presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia signed a joint Declaration on intensification of the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Akhalkalaki railway route during the ceremony of commissioning of the Azerbaijani section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline on 25 May 2005. What concrete steps does your country take to implement the project in the territory of Georgia?
Answer: We attach great importance to the development of transport communications connecting us with Azerbaijan and Turkey. It is dealt with common transport system, which is obviously favorable for the entire region.
As to construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway road, the preparatory stage is nearing to end. The Georgian government is ready to carry out own part of work on the construction of the railway route.
Question: Earlier Georgia stated on its intention to purchase additional gas volumes from the Shah-Deniz field along with the volume indicated in the contract. Is their any agreement with the shareholders in the project on purchase of additional volume of fuel?
Answer: As you know, Gasprom has recently taken a decision on increase of gas prices for Georgia. In new conditions, provision of energy security of our country requires additional efforts.
We have always hoped and now hope in the understanding and support of our fields and partners in the implementation of important communication projects in the energy sector.
As to talks on purchase of necessary gas volumes, the consultations in this respect continue.
We get more and more assured in the significance of the Shah-Deniz-Tbilisi-Erzerum both for our country and for the entire region.
Question: Does Georgia plan to direct funds to be obtained from the South-Caucasus gas main and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline, at the development of own oil and gas fields, or the country will attach more and more importance to the non-oil sector?
Answer: The funds to be obtained from the pipelines will be transferred to GeorgiaвЂ™s public budget and spent on the implementation of budget priorities, which might include the development of own fields, though cannot be compared with the Azerbaijani fields for their scale, but still considerable for covering the domestic need.
Question: What measures does your country take to ensure the security of the existing pipelines and those under construction? Do you set up any cooperation with other countries in this sphere?
Answer: The Georgian government approaches with necessary responsibility to implementation of its commitments on the provision of security of strategically important pipelines running via the territory of our country.
Enormous work has been done in this direction. A special division has been established at the Georgian Interior Ministry, ensuring the security of the oil and gas pipelines running via its territory. We actively cooperate with the relevant services of different friendly countries.
Question: Does the further deepening of economic relationships between the two countries envisage actualization of GeorgiaвЂ™s debts to Azerbaijan? Can the enterprises take concrete steps in this direction in 2006?
Answer: The talks in this direction continue successfully. I can bravely notify you that GeorgiaвЂ™s debts to Azerbaijan will not become an obstacle on the way of further intensification of comprehensive economic cooperation and partnership between our two neighboring countries.
Question: Tbilisi stated on its will of intensifying a process of integration with the European Union under Near Neighborhood program, in particular, on the base of individual action program. Could you disclose your countryвЂ™s position on the issue? How it could promote or complicate the resolution of our problems in the South Caucasus?
Answer: GeorgiaвЂ™s aspiration to closer cooperation with the European Union, integration into the Euro-Atlantic bodies is predetermined with the common speed of our history.
Georgia successfully functions in this respect and we are happy with the achievements of our neighbors.
We implement programs on Individual Partnership and Near Neighborhood with NATO and the European Union.
Of course, it is not an easy process, as the European standards are very difficult. However, we steadily move forward, gradually approaching to the level when the partnership with the European Union grows into integration.
Integration of the South Caucasus countries in the Euro-Atlantic organizations will bring to region a long-awaited peace, stability, democratic development and economic progress. However, it is necessary to pass long way of difficult reforms in the political, institutional, as well as well as economic spheres.