Georgian foreign minister Irakli Menagarishvili conferred last weekend in Baku with Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev and foreign minister Hassan Hassanov. Their talks focused on Azerbaijani electricity supplies to Georgia and the project to build a pipeline to transport Azeri oil to international markets via Georgia. The latter project "will help cement bilateral cooperation," Aliyev said. The Azerbaijan president also approved of the "sensible" treatment of minorities in Georgia, including the Azeri minority, by President Eduard Shevardnadze and his government. Aliyev compared their treatment favorably to that of several years ago (under Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s presidency). Noting that they faced similar secessionist challenges, the two sides emphatically endorsed the principle of territorial integrity of states and the inviolability of their borders. Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze invited Aliyev to pay an official visit to Georgia in the near future. (15)
Menagarishvili’s visit to Azerbaijan was his first as foreign minister. He combined the trip with a visit to Armenia, which received a distinctly lower profile. While Georgian-Armenian relations are trouble-free, Georgian-Azerbaijani relations are increasingly underpinned by common economic and political interests. The latter include strong support for territorial integrity and inviolability of borders due to problems in Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Armenia and Karabakh, by contrast, emphasize the principle of self-determination. As Aliyev and Menagarishvili discussed the trans-Georgian pipeline for Azerbaijani oil, top executives of the U.S. oil company Chevron visited Georgia to study possible participation in the project.
Tengiz Pipeline Project Stuck, Alternative Discussed.