Aliyev says close Azerbaijan-Georgia ties benefit Europe, hints at further regional integration

Aliyev also noted Georgia’s energy security was “fully protected” regardless of what happened between the “big players”. Photo: Georgian Government press office

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday lauded his country’s “close cooperation” with Tbilisi on both political level and collaborative projects, and highlighted the positive impact of the “mutually beneficial” partnership on Europe while expressing optimism for a further integration of the South Caucasus region.

In his press comments at Azerbaijan’s ADA University, the official said the creation of a Benelux-style model for regional integration was “possible”, adding the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum in October, which brought together the PMs of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, had made a “positive signal” for such an opportunity, which could be realised if Baku and Yerevan signed a peace deal to conclude their long-running dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Hailing the efforts of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili to meditate for peace between the neighbouring states for a “lasting peace” in the region, Aliyev stressed his latest communication with the head of the Georgian Government also discussed the possibility of the integration initiative.

In comments on the “successful cooperation” between Tbilisi and Baku over the past 30 years, he noted the integration and mutual benefit derived from joint projects and said his Government was open for Armenia to join the initiatives once a peace treaty was signed. He added the collaborative efforts could begin and provide a sense of security for all parties involved once Armenia signalled its commitment.

Aliyev also noted Georgia’s energy security was “fully protected” regardless of what happened between the “big players”, citing Tbilisi as a “reliable source of supply”, and “interconnection and interdependence” between the two states, which he said had been upgraded to the level of “friendship”.

If we look at the cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan, we will see how the two countries are integrated, implementing common projects for mutual benefit, and how these two countries together have become more important for Europe than they would be separately”, Aliyev said.

He stressed the two states had already made a “big contribution” for their own and Europe’s energy security, pointing to projects of oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, transportation, railways, power cables and security formats – with the initiatives also involving Turkey.

The Government head said Armenia’s potential contribution to the cooperation between the other regional states was “unclear” at this stage due to absence of an official conclusion of the conflict.

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