On October 8, Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, arrived in Georgia for a working visit at the invitation of Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, the Press Office of the Azerbaijani President reported. Levan Davitashvili, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, and other officials welcomed the President of Azerbaijan.
Garibashvili said, “Azerbaijan is a Strategic Partner of Georgia – an outstanding, friendly state – with which we have a centuries-old kind, neighborly brotherhood and friendship. This bond continues between our people, and Mr. Ilham Aliyev has great merits.” He noted: “Azerbaijan is one of the largest trade partners of Georgia and is consistently ranked in the Top 5 Countries every single year. Trade volume grew by 15% this year.”
About the Middle Corridor and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project, the Prime Minister of Georgia emphasized, “We reviewed the prospects of advancing the Middle Corridor, too. You may well be aware that we are coordinating our work with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to make sure that it gets developed most efficiently, implying railway modernization, extension, and construction of ports, as well as the development and modernization of land roads. I know that Azerbaijan has launched wide-scale works towards this end. We in Georgia have also started to work on the railway modernization, which will be completed at the end of 2024. Its throughput will increase and double upon completion. We are also launching the construction of a new port in Anaklia very soon. Its throughput will be 100 million tons when the last phase gets completed. Also, the East-West Highway (EWH) construction will be finished very soon. We are, of course, cooperating with Azerbaijan on all these projects. Also, another historic project will be completed in a few months. I am referring to a project of strategic significance – Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project – which is progressing very successfully now, and we will be completing it in several months.”
Garibashvili also offered mediation to Azerbaijan and Armenia: “We have always been impartial here in Georgia and are ready to contribute to this issue today. We want to be a mediator in this matter and are ready to offer any friendly format. Our future should be peaceful and stable, and all three countries of the South Caucasus should address regional issues themselves.”
About the issue of normalization of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, President Aliyev noted, “As you know, several countries and also some international organizations are trying to support the normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan today. We welcome that. If it is not lop-sided and biased, of course, we welcome any mediation and assistance. However, in my opinion, considering both the historical relations and the geographical factor, the most correct option in this field would certainly be Georgia. I am grateful to the Prime Minister, who has also offered possible mediation in this area. I think that we should expect the same approach from Armenia as a country that is ready for this, and if Armenia agrees, the heads of our relevant authorities can immediately come to Georgia for both bilateral and trilateral meetings.”
On the economic ties, the Azerbaijani leader noted, “Today we exchanged views on the construction of Anaklia port. As you know, Azerbaijan has [one of SOCAR’s first and most important investments] Kulevi port on the Black Sea coast of Georgia, and the expansion of that port will certainly strengthen our cooperation. Of course, increasing the carrying capacity of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway by more than five times and its launch shortly will certainly strengthen the Middle Corridor. Apart from the traditional fields in the energy sector, there is a ‘Green Energy Corridor’ project that unites us today. Here, too, we – Georgia and Azerbaijan, the two brotherly countries – are closely cooperating with Europe, and a feasibility study for this project will be ready in the coming months. I am sure that after that, we will start concrete work. Major investment is planned, and thus the ‘Green Energy Corridor,’ an energy cable, will be built, strengthening the energy security of both Azerbaijan and our partner countries.”