Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia:
“I am honored to host Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Georgia today. I wish to thank Mr. President for visiting us. Considering the kind neighborly relations, strategic partnership and cooperation agenda existing between our countries, Your visit has the greatest significance. Herewith, I wish to note your immeasurable contribution in approximating the relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia and in strengthening our friendship and brotherhood. Truly unique relations and friendship exist between our nations. It is based on close historic ties and mutual respect. I am strongly convinced that such high level relations will be further strengthened for the benefit of our people and our countries.
We had a very important meeting today. A lot of topics were discussed in relation to the strong partnership and cooperation existing between our nations. We reviewed the challenging situation worldwide and current global developments, of course. We touched upon the difficult situation within the region and we all agree that what is happening now in Ukraine should get regulated through negotiations. Also, I wish to note that great importance is acquired by peace and stability in the face of fast pace of changes and hard challenges within the region and around the world. Peace and stability are the core factors of development in our region and welfare of our people in general.
We also referred to the current situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia for the commencement of the peaceful negotiation process under the recent agreement. It gives us great hopes, of course. Once again, I wish to confirm hereby that Georgia and I personally, as well as our government declares full readiness for the continuation and facilitation of the peace policy, which we started together. I wish to note here that the referred Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative does not contradict, nor substitutes any other format of cooperation. On the contrary! It will help the process. I am confident that we will do a lot of significant work together again.
Mr. President, I also welcome the initiative voiced by You in Prague on the creation of a joint, tripartite discussion format facility in the South Caucasus.
We also spoke about the existing energy, economic, trade and transport projects, as well as their importance. Georgia is one of the most significant countries and friends of Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan is the most important strategic partner of Georgia.
We also reviewed the significant strategic projects that are of historic importance. These are the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum Gas Pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway, South Corridor projects of natural gas transportation and spoke about the significance of the Middle Corridor.
Mr. President, we confirm full readiness to intensify our relations to the maximum in view of the current and planned projects.
Lastly, I wish to quote your dear father – national leader of Azerbaijan – a much respected person to us – Heidar Aliyev – and recall his words uttered in Georgia, during his visit to Tbilisi. He addressed the Georgian people with the following words: Azerbaijani and Georgian people are fortunate to have each other as neighbors and to have close relations. Our ancestors saw the fruits of this happiness. Our aim is to give an eternal life to these traditions and convey it to future generations. Thank you once again!”
Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan:
“We are delighted to visit your beautiful country and I am happy to be at this gorgeous place. This wind reminds me of Baku and it confirms that even wind is welcoming us in Georgia. I thus feel at home.
I am delighted to be in your country again. We meet often with Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia. The Head of Government of Georgia was visiting Azerbaijan twice last year. We always meet each other at international events and are always eager to use these opportunities. I am confident that this visit will contribute to a greater development of relations between our brotherly nations.
It is all based on the relations enjoyed by our nations for centuries and we have a successful interaction on this solid basis. We have a strategic relation nowadays as an alliance, as we actively cooperate in many areas – both at the international level (within international organizations) and at the bilateral level.
We carried out a number of very important projects and they were important not only for our countries, but for the region and entire world.
As Mr. Prime Minister has already mentioned, we touched upon a lot of topics and continue to talk on other matters. Of course, current developments in the region and security issues were in the center of our discussions. Peace was established after the second Karabakh war. I informed the Prime Minister of Georgia about the current peace negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. We believe that conflict resolution requires a Peace Agreement to be signed by and between Azerbaijan and Armenia. We already shared 5 key principles with Armenia. I hope that they will demonstrate the political will and start the peace negotiations to make sure that such a Peace Agreement gets signed with Azerbaijan. If it happens, peace will be enjoyed in the South Caucasus and new opportunities will arise for cooperation. We now have an opportunity to hold consultations between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. If Armenia is ready, we will be eager to start the process within this format even today.
As for the bilateral agreement and format of interaction with Georgia, we are happy that trade volumes are rising. In the last 9 months we exceeded 1 billion USD towards this end. Azerbaijan has invested significant funds in Georgia and investments tend to advance cooperation. We have overall invested 3 billion USD in Georgia and believe that it will be of mutual benefit.
Of course, we spoke about the future energy policy and exchanged ideas on the projects that have been carried out. In terms of operation, they are utterly successful. We look forward to the launch of new ones to increase the natural gas export to international markets. We plan to export 22 million cubic meters of gas and this volume will further increase in coming years.
We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Azerbaijan and the European Commission and plan to double the export of natural gas to Europe during the coming 5 years. We have this capacity and plan to export almost 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe by 2027. Of course, we discussed this topic with the Prime Minister of Georgia. There will be new topics as well. Meanwhile, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Gas Pipeline will boost exports. This pipeline will increase the throughput volumes. We also wish to use Baku-Supsa Terminal. I know that it is idle at present, but wish to absorb this venue as well.
New projects envisage new initiatives in the power energy sector. Azerbaijan plans to export power energy to international markets. Of course, our routes will by all means go through Georgia. Our capacity is 10 gigawatts in terms of renewable energy. Through the Caspian, we can export 157 gigawatts. It is by international calculations and projections. We believe that it will be a new benchmark for exporting power energy and believe that Georgia and Azerbaijan will cooperate successfully towards this end. Overall, our cooperation potential will increase and grow, welfare and energy corridor prospects will advance.
I should also underline that cargo shipment between Georgia and Azerbaijan has increased by 75 percent. I should say that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway may be used to transport 5 million tons. Following year will witness more investments towards this end, in these corridors and more financial resources will be allocated. We plan to use this route to make sure that cargo is transported from the Caspian, through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Europe and new routes are absorbed.
We know that it is in the best interests of every country to have an increased use of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route. Marine ports of Georgia will be used to channel cargo from Central Asia to Europe and vice versa. I believe that we have a potential and capacity to increase. New realities are shaping up and we should be ready for this.
I need to say that the International Trade Platform and Marine Port of Baku with its potential will increase from 25 to 50 million and more investments will be made towards this end. We need to closely cooperate in the transport sector with Georgia to make it a cohesive and joint effort. We need to develop relations with neighbors for the advancement of transport opportunities, as otherwise we will not be a reliable transit country.
We have a friend, neighbor and strategic partner in the face of Georgia. Overall, by taking into account the rising demand on energy carriers, Georgia and Azerbaijan are at the same front and we will work together to make sure that our national interests, i.e. interests of two brotherly nations are based on such bonds and shaping such significant relations that bring benefit to the entire world. Our friendship serves as a basis to this. With our nations, our countries and us – the leaders – I see this opportunity and thank the Prime Minister of Georgia for inviting me to this beautiful place, hereby wishing the friendly and brotherly people of Georgia eternal and boundless prosperity.”