At a meeting in Baku on February 18-20, Presidents Haidar Aliev of Azerbaijan and Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia signed a Declaration of Deepening Strategic Partnership, an agreement on cooperation in the oil industry and oil transportation, and other documents on bilateral cooperation. The political declaration and talks envisaged joint efforts by the two countries to ostracize "aggressive separatism" and to uphold the principles of territorial integrity of states and inviolability of their borders.
The presidents and officials of the two countries discussed in detail a project for a Eurasian transit corridor to convey Central Asian commodities to Western markets via the South Caucasus and the trans-Georgia pipeline project for the transportation of Caspian oil to Turkey. Obliquely addressing Moscow, Shevardnadze admonished "certain circles of certain countries" for their encouragement of separatism in the South Caucasus and suggested it had "boomeranged against them" in the North Caucasus. He added that "they should realize that stability in the South Caucasus is in Russia’s own interest." The Georgian president also predicted that cooperation within the CIS would remain "highly problematic" unless the organization guaranteed "free development of the states." (Turan, Interfax, Western agencies, February 18-20)
Uzbekistan Looks West.