The Georgian thinktank Geocase, in cooperation with ADA University, Azerbaijan, co-organized the online discussion “Georgia-Azerbaijan Strategic Relations”.
Victor Kipiani, Chairman of Geocase and Fariz Ismailzade, Vice Rector of ADA University, moderated the event.
Ambassadors Tedo Japaridze and Zurab Gumberidze, Anar Valiev, Dean of the ADA University School of Public and International Affairs, and Farid Shafiev, Chairman of the AIR Center, were invited to speak at the discussions.
The speakers discussed new opportunities and challenges of Georgia-Azerbaijan strategic relations in light of the renewed political landscape in the South Caucasus.
“A strong and prosperous Azerbaijan is in the strategic interest of Georgia and, likewise, a strong and prosperous Georgia is in the strategic interest of Azerbaijan and it is not accidental. Today we have a growing interconnectedness, which is reflected in several important factors. The first thing we have is a traditionally strong connection in the field of culture that really makes us all proud. The second unifying factor is Georgian citizens who are ethnically Azerbaijani and ethnic Georgian citizens of Azerbaijan. Last but not least, the common regional interests of the South Caucasus, peace and stability, respect for international law and order,” said Viktor Kipiani.
During the discussion, His Excellency Tedo Japaridze reviewed the development of friendly strategic relations between the two countries in the historical context and spoke about the importance of these relations.
“Following the strategic cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan, both countries act according to the interests of the region, and this is important, because without a common vision – compassion – it is inconceivable to ensure independence, sovereignty, security, stability, economic prosperity of each country and to implement such international projects,” stated Japaridze.
The invited speaker, His Excellency Farid Shafiev, focused on the changed situation in the region after the Karabakh war. He noted that Azerbaijan had to deal with great international pressure.
“Georgia and Azerbaijan have strong friendly and strategic relations, which are reflected in the historical, political, economic, humanitarian, sustainable relations. Naturally, there is a constant need for both sides to affirm each other's unwavering position in this regard. When Azerbaijan's territorial integrity was restored after 27 years, Azerbaijan was under pressure not only from the Russian state, but also from the West, the US administration, France and the European Union in general, and therefore the Republic of Azerbaijan did not concentrate on more results. Now we have the reality we have,” the diplomat said.
His Excellency Zurab Gumberidze reviewed the large scale international projects implemented with the strategic partnership of the two countries. “It is very rare to implement 5 such large-scale international projects in 10 years, such as the Eurasian Transport Corridor, Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which are not yet under construction, whose success will greatly connect our countries and future generations.”
Summing up the discussion, Viktor Kipiani focused on Georgia's position during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He noted that his personal opinion is that this issue should be discussed beyond the scope of international law.
“International law dictates the respect of a country's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Georgia's position in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict stems from international law and this is the starting point.
“It is also important to note that Georgia's pro-Western nature is not even the course of the country's foreign policy, which can be changed at the touch of a button. It is the result of a broad consensus in society, it’s a civilized choice. Today, renewed forms of pluralism are settling in international relations. In this context, I believe that new solutions can be found in the region as well. Of course, it would be ideal today to talk about creating a common action, an economic space in the South Caucasus. However, unfortunately, in the near future, this will be impossible for me. Therefore, it is more advisable to make the best use of the good practice already existing between Azerbaijan and Georgia, which is exemplary. If we look at the world map, it is difficult to see two nations connected by two different cultures and religions, but with many key aspects, both in such a difficult region. In a word, the closer the strategic-friendly relations connect us, the more we will strengthen each other. "Such a connection will also limit the gross interference of harmful external forces in the processes of the region and the will of the unwanted other,” said Victor Kipiani.
Online discussion “Georgia-Azerbaijan Strategic Relations”