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Georgia and Azerbaijan to set up an informal confederation22.05.2009 | 22:33
The Georgian president has arrived in Baku to extend bilateral ties. The visit is not over yet but Mikheil Saakashvili has already stated that Georgia and Azerbaijan are forming an informal confederation.
"We have brotherly relations and I have always said we are practically an informal confederation", - Mikheil Saakashvili stated in Baku. - Naturally we are two independent states but we have almost brotherly confederative relations, - he specified at the meeting of Azerbaijani-Georgian intergovernmental committee. The president of Azerbaijan, Ilkham Aliev stated that over the years of cooperation two countries have solved a lot of global issues. "For the next years we hope to enhance cooperation on the same basis of friendship", - he added.
Mikheil Saakashvili came to Baku yesterday accompanied by Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, Minister of Economic Development Lasha Zhvania, and Energy Minister Alexander Khetaguri. According to APA after official greetings Mikheil Saakashvili paid a visit to Geydar Aliev's tomb on the Alley of Honorable Burial. Then he laid flowers to the tombs in Martyrs' Alley established in memory of the soldiers fighting for Azerbaijan's independence and suppressed by Soviet troops in 1990. All these were protocol activities for all official guests in Baku.
According to Georgia's Foreign Ministry the purpose of the two-day visit was "extension of bilateral relations and discussion of a whole range of issues". It will be remembered, Azerbaijan is the main supplier of natural gas to Georgia. In the past Russia provided the country with the blue fuel. Besides Azerbaijan ships oil and natural gas to the European markets in transit through Georgia within Baku-Tbilisi-Jeykhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum projects. Both countries are part of the political and economic bloc GUAM established in opposition to Russia's influence.
Yesterday the parties signed several documents, lNEWS.az reports. CJSC Azerbaijani Airlines President Jakhangir Askerov and Lasha Zhvania endorsed the protocol on modification of the air space treaty. Zhvania's counterpart - Azerbaijani Minister of Economic Development Shakhin Mustafaev fixed his consent on the protocol for modification of 1996 free trade treaty. The Chairman of State Committee for Standardization, Metrology and Patents Ramiz Gasanov and Zhvania signed an agreement on intellectual property protection.
But the main topic of discussions was joint implementation of the energy projects and cooperation with the European Union within Eastern Partnership scheme. Ramin Bayramov, a deputy of the Georgian parliament in his interview with Day.az stated the journey had been planned some time before. "It was not a spontaneous decision. And most members of the delegation including me learned about it some ten days ago», - the deputy specified. It was exactly the time when a few significant events took place in Caucasian region. First of all it's the start of exercises for NATO member countries and its partners in Georgia with Azerbaijan taking part in them. Secondly at the Prague summit the representatives of Azerbaijan and Georgia signed the Nabuссo agreement (a gas line from the Caspian region to Europe). Thirdly the European Union officially enlisted Baku and Tbilisi in Eastern Partnership - the program for rapprochement with post-Soviet states.
It's worth remembering that close relations between Baku and Tbilisi are not approved by Erevan. Some Armenian experts seriously believe that Azerbaijani leaders might follow the example of Georgia in order to solve the frozen conflict in their territory and subdue Nagorny Karabakh seeking independence by force. But here is the difference between straightforward Georgians and diplomatic Azerbaijani. Shelling Tskhinval with GRADs Saakashvili didn't take into account either the opinion of the West or Russia. Aliev pays attention to both the Turkish idea of Caucasian platform and Moscow's peacekeeping initiatives. All post-Soviet years Georgian leaders have been in confrontation with Moscow. Azerbaijani leaders learned to maneuver between the interests of Western partners and "their Northern friend".
According to politologist Rashad Rzakuliev in his interview for News Azerbaijan "leading players of the big geopolitical game have launched an exploratory offensive against each other" in the Caucasus now. The West (the USA, the EU and Turkey acting on their behalf) is the provoker according to Rzakuliev. Other parties involved - Russia and Iran - "are doing their best to preserve their centuries-long presence in the region", the politologist believes.
The politologist emphasizes that in this situation "Azerbaijan's "geopolitical pluralism" helps to stay up with confidence, establish clear relations with all power centers of the world and rebuff any attempts at pressurizing".
Indeed Azerbaijan has marvelous trade relations with Russia while all Georgian produce is under Russian embargo. To the question of Day.az whether today talks between Mikheil Saakashvili and Ilkham Aliev would normalize Georgian-Russian relations deputy Ramin Bayramov replied: "I can't know for sure of course. But in my opinion now such rapprochement with Russia is impossible as the Abkhazian and South Ossetian issues are extremely acute for Tbilisi".