Georgian Foreign Minister in Baku

BAKU (Combined Sources)–Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Tuesday for talks on economic cooperation and the proposed privatization of a crucial gas pipeline crossing Georgia and connecting Armenia to Russia.

Azerbaijan has been in talks with Georgia for months over the privatization of the strategic North-South pipeline that supplies Russian natural gas to Armenia via Georgia.

Azerbaijan would like to use the pipeline, owned by the Georgian Oil & Gas Corporation, for the so-called AGRI liquefied natural gas project that will connect Azerbaijan, Georgia and Romania, Nizameddin Guliyev, a spokesman for Azerbaijan’s state oil company, SOCAR, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying on Monday.

“Successful cooperation in energy projects between Azerbaijan and Georgia was noted [during the meeting between Vashadze and Aliyev]. Bilateral relations, regional and international issues were discussed during the talks,” the Azerbaijani President’s press office said.

During his two-day official visit to Baku, the Georgian Foreign Minister will also meet his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov and Transport Minister Zia Mamedov.
According to the Georgian Messenger, Vashadze’s meeting focused heavily on economic cooperation and regional security. “We have discussed those economic projects, which are either being implemented or the implementation of which will start in the near future,” he was quoted as saying.

On January 13 European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Ilham Aliyev signed a Joint Declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor envisaging long-term supplies of Azerbaijani gas to Europe. The Georgian pipeline is seen as a necessary element in Baku’s plan’s to diversify its energy exports.

The European Commission said that the Southern Corridor entails the construction of several pipelines, such as Nabucco, ITGI, White Stream and TAP, aiming to bring gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe. Nabucco aims to bring gas to the border of Europe with a new pipeline, whereas TAP and ITGI requires the strengthening of existing infrastructure in non-EU countries. In the next months, Azerbaijan will make a further decision on which of these pipelines to prioritize, according to the European Commission.

“Mr. President informed me about the results of Mr. Barroso’s visit to Baku. In this context, we have discussed future projects, which will unite joint economic efforts of Georgia and Azerbaijan,” Vashadze said.

According to the EU-Azerbaijan declaration the Southern Gas Corridor is “a stepping stone in increasing European Energy security.”

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