On December 6, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev described cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan as a partnership “much broader than energy cooperation” and spoke of its importance for Europe and the prospects for regional integration in the South Caucasus at the forum entitled “Karabakh: Back Home After 30 Years. Accomplishments and Challenges,” co-organized by ADA University (established under the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan) and the Azerbaijani think-tank Center of Analysis of International Relations. Azerbaijan’s President mentioned Georgia on more than one occasion when answering the participants’ questions.
Georgia-Azerbaijan cooperation “allowed us to present ourselves in Europe as a consolidated team of strategic importance,” President Aliyev said while answering a question about the impact of Georgia’s drift toward Europe on Azerbaijani-Georgia relations and the increased EU engagement in the South Caucasus.
Commenting on Georgia’s European aspirations, President Aliyev congratulated Georgia on the recent development towards the EU candidacy, wished it success but also underlined that it is a process in which “we know some countries waited for many years” mentioning Turkey and the Balkan states.
“I’m sure that when Georgia becomes an EU member, nothing will change in our relations. On the contrary, we will have another close friend in EU, which will defend us,” President Aliyev noted, expressing hope that “the Georgian members of European Parliament will educate European parliamentarians about Azerbaijan, and they [ed. MEPs] will be more realistic.”
President Aliyev was also asked about the prospects of the Benelux-like integration in the South Caucasus region, which he described as “absolutely realistic.” Stating that “maybe, it’s early to talk about integration” he noted, but that the countries of the region should start with consultations,” adding that “the first consultations took place in Georgia just recently on the sidelines of one international event” when the Prime Ministers of the three countries had a chance to meet.
President Aliyev went on to emphasize the “interdependence which is good” between Baku and Tbilisi, and underlined that “our Georgian friends here – they know that today Georgia’s energy security is absolutely on the safe side. No matter what happens between big players, no matter what is the weather, because it is a reliable source of supply. We know that for Azerbaijan, the reliable transit route is through Georgia.”
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