Statement by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili
- Good afternoon! Let me greet and welcome our dear guest – my dear friend – Mr. Ilham Aliyev!
I am thrilled with your visit, Mr. President! I greet and welcome your delegation, distinguished guests. Let me thank you for your visit and note that we are successfully continuing the launched tradition, which is all about the exchange of our frequent visits. Several months ago, I visited Azerbaijan and came to Gabala. I wish to thank you for your warm hospitality once again. About this time last year, you were visiting Georgia, and I am delighted that these frequent visits are organized between our countries. I am very grateful, of course. I will make the next visit to Azerbaijan, and it will probably be in a few months.
We have had a very good meeting. Of course, it was a productive one. We had a productive discussion with Mr. Ilham Aliyev. We reviewed the topics of strategic cooperation between our countries, of course. 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 in this. His contribution is tremendous in strengthening this friendship and brotherhood.
We also had a discussion about trade and economic affairs, of course. We reviewed the cooperation in the energy, transport, and logistics sectors. 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. Quite a record-high indicator was reached last year as well. We increased the volume of cargo shipment and in general, I wish to note we cooperate very successfully in every area, be that energy, transport, logistics or any other direction. Our railways are also cooperating very successfully.
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 in the most efficient manner, implying railway modernization, extension and construction of ports, as well as 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 modernization of the railway, 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, construction of the East-West Highway (EWH) 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.
Also, we have clear prospects and far-reaching vision. We want to have a very long strategic partnership and friendship with Azerbaijan. I believe in our joint vision!
Of course, we have also discussed security issues – both regional and global events. The situation is quite tense at the moment.
I once again informed Mr. President that we support Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty. We are grateful to Azerbaijan, which, in turn, always supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. We have also confirmed that we have great hopes that Azerbaijan and Armenia sign a peace agreement. From this point of view, our views on the peace agenda in the South Caucasus fully coincide. We do hope that peace in this region will be sustainable and serve the prosperity of our countries, as well as the people of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.
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.
At the same time, I would like to mention that the late President Heydar Aliyev, the father of Mr. President, had made an exceptional contribution to the development of our friendship. He laid its foundation. We have viewed an exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Heydar Aliyev. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. President Ilham Aliyev and the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.
Dear friend, I welcome you here again. I wish your country peace, development and success. Thank you.
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Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Prime Minister,
Dear ladies and gentlemen.
First of all, dear Prime Minister, I want to thank you for the invitation and hospitality.
I am very happy to be visiting this charming corner of the city of Tbilisi, and the conditions created here are also pleasing to the eye. During the conversation with Prime Minister, I mentioned that the entire territory of Georgia is beautiful from the point of view of nature. The greatest beauty and greatest wealth is the people of Georgia.
We, as two leaders, are strengthening and consolidating the friendly and brotherly relations between our countries and peoples, and spare no effort to do that. As Prime Minister has mentioned, our traditional meetings serve this purpose so that our countries become closer to each other, so that our peoples become closer friends with each other. For centuries, our peoples have lived in the conditions of good neighborliness and friendship, and this is still the case today. This is important for both our countries, and at the same time, it is a very important condition for the region, including, first of all, the South Caucasus.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the respect shown by the government and people of Georgia for the memory of Great Leader Heydar Aliyev. As mentioned, this year, the 100th anniversary of Heydar Aliyev is celebrated in Azerbaijan and many countries around the world, including Georgia. During the exhibition organized here today, one picture caught my eye. It was a picture of Heydar Aliyev and Eduard Shevardnadze. Their friendship has a long history. During the Soviet period, they were in close contact with each other and also as the leaders of Soviet Georgia and Soviet Azerbaijan, they made every effort to further bring our peoples closer together. These two brilliant personalities were distinguished by their talent, courage and devotion to their people even in the Soviet era. Destiny had it that they began to lead independent Georgia and independent Azerbaijan at about the same time. In the most difficult period for our peoples – we remember those bitter and painful days – it was thanks to their leadership that both Georgia and Azerbaijan confidently began to step towards independence. It was the result of their activities that independent Georgia and independent Azerbaijan began to develop.
We, their successors, are following in their footsteps today. Of course, Georgia and Azerbaijan are much more developed countries now. But the challenges are almost the same, the problems are the same. Peace has not yet been fully established in the South Caucasus, and today, during the conversation with Prime Minister, we touched upon this issue as well. The time has come to establish peace in the South Caucasus. As Prime Minister has mentioned, we have always supported and continue to support each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty. In all international organizations, we support and stand by each other in these and other issues that reflect the interests of our peoples. Territorial integrity of countries is a fundamental principle of international law, and violation of territorial integrity is unacceptable. Azerbaijan's position on this issue is unequivocal.
Today, we also touched upon the issue of normalization of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. Three years ago, as a result of the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity. Last month, we restored our sovereignty over the entire country. Now we must work hard on the peace treaty to be signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. If we succeed in that, and I hope we will, then a completely new political situation will emerge in the South Caucasus. South Caucasus countries can start cooperating in a trilateral format. Our cooperation in many fields can be very successful: transport, energy security, trade, mutual investment – all these are possible. We were simply deprived of this because a part of Azerbaijan's territories was under occupation for many years and, of course, this situation did not allow us the opportunity to take steps towards normalization. Now the moment is ripe, and I think it would be a huge mistake to miss out on this chance.
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, taking into account both the historical relations and the geographical factor, the most correct option in this field would certainly be Georgia. I am grateful to 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.
As for our cooperation in other fields, as Prime Minister has already mentioned, we have very ambitious plans in both energy and transport fields. Of course, we already have a lot of achievements. I think it is needless to talk about completed projects, everyone knows that. I simply want to say that our joint energy and transport projects serve the energy and transport security of many countries today.
There is also an unequivocal agenda for the deepening of cooperation. We are happy to participate in the creation of new infrastructure projects in Georgia. Today we exchanged views on the construction of Anaklia port. As you know, Azerbaijan has 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 the launch of it in the near future will certainly serve to 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.
In short, the projects implemented by Georgia and Azerbaijan jointly and together with other neighboring countries are of great importance not only for the South Caucasus region, but also for the broader Eurasian continent, and we are ready for that. We have a strong political will and a strong infrastructure that has already been created. The most important factor is the Georgian-Azerbaijani friendship and strategic partnership.
I would like to mention another issue at the end of my speech. I come to Georgia often, and every time I come here, I get to know a new part of your country. Every time, I admire the beautiful nature of Georgia and, at the same time, I am very impressed and pleased with the progress observed in Georgia. Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Georgia is developing confidently, the public and political stability has been fully established in Georgia. The source of this stability is the support of the citizens of Georgia for their government. This stability and the government's clear vision of the future allows many important projects to be implemented, allows the economy to grow, infrastructure projects to be implemented, and people's well-being to improve year after year. As a friend of Georgia, we are very happy about this.
We congratulate you, Prime Minister and all our Georgian brothers, on the achieved successes. I am grateful to you for the hospitality, Prime Minister, and would like to invite you to Azerbaijan. Thank you.