The mid-July incident between Tbilisi and Baku after it transpired that Georgia served as a transit point for the supply of weapons to Armenia, was swiftly settled by the governments of the two strategic South Caucasus nations via diplomatic channels. No doubt that the quick move disappointed Yerevan and Moscow most of all as the worsening of the strategic ties between Azerbaijan and Georgia is among their key targets.
The strategic approach to hammer out the incident weighed the pros and cons of souring the relations, and judging by the current state of affairs, the incident over the "arms transit", projected to minimize Azerbaijan’s clout in the South Caucasus, did not lead to the deep cooling of relations.
It did not work out to split the traditionally age-old, fraternal and friendly relations between the two countries, their leaders turned out to be above momentary emotions and interests and proved that they can see where the strategy is and where is the misunderstanding that is permanently occurring even between the closest neighbors.
By a true recognition of the fraternal relationship, a high assessment that Baku gave to Tbilisi's operational actions to resolve the incident – several days ago the Georgian government resolutely stopped the attempt to pass another caravan with weapons for Armenia through the country. This signaled that the incident was a provocation and the two nations’ rational approach was an unambiguous signal to the rest of the world.
Although it was precisely thanks to the principled position of President Ilham Aliyev, who raised the problem of transit arms supplies to the interstate level that it was possible to exclude all the threats hanging over the prospect of strategic cooperation between the two fraternal countries.
The strategic partnership of the two countries is confirmed by figures and realities. Indeed, by the end of the year, the entire Eurasian region is waiting for the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor. In addition, Azerbaijani companies are the largest taxpayers in Georgia. In the very near future, Azerbaijani companies plan to implement new large projects to further develop economic cooperation.
Azerbaijan in the first half of 2020 became Georgia's third largest trading partner in terms of volume, behind only China and Russia. Azerbaijan is one of the most serious investors in the Georgian economy. SOCAR is the largest taxpayer of the Georgian treasury; it has serious assets in Georgia, at least gas distribution networks and infrastructure facilities. About 2 million tons of oil per year passes through the terminal in Kulevi, the transit potential of Georgia is largely provided by Azerbaijan. We are talking about both energy and transport interaction; thousands of containers pass through the territory of Georgia every year.
The strategic depth of the partnership between the two countries is so great that today it is impossible to imagine the appearance of cracks in it even hypothetically - after all, as a result, not only the budget of Georgia and the country's economy, but also the image of Tbilisi will suffer serious damage. After all, the European Union regards Georgia and Azerbaijan as important transport hubs that will ensure the energy security of the entire European continent in the future.
Undoubtedly, Azerbaijan is the author of the concept of the Tbilisi-Baku axis and major geo-economic and transport projects have been implemented thanks to Azerbaijan’s determination and resolute steps. Geo-economic and communication arteries have became the basis for the formation of a regional security system with the participation of Azerbaijan and Georgia. Azerbaijan has initiated the creation of a geopolitical triangle: Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey. Over recent years, an important addition to the existing geopolitical axis has become the dominant role in regional processes of Azerbaijan's closest ally, Turkey, which has made a lot of efforts for the economic integration of economies and fortifying military-political ties.
The sober-minded people of the Georgian establishment have long ago realized the accuracy of the course towards Baku chosen by the ruling party Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia, its founder Bidzina Ivanishvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia - the closest cooperation and strong alliance for the benefit of the entire region.
The political and economic axis Baku-Tbilisi is one of the most successful and perfect models of good-neighborliness and can serve as an example for other countries in the region.
A separate factor in strengthening good-neighborliness is the position of the Azerbaijani diaspora in Georgia, which Baku always follows closely enough. In addition, the fact that this diaspora is taking an ever more active part in the life of Georgia, including occupying elective positions there is another proof that Baku and Tbilisi are getting closer.
For the first time in history, under the Georgian Dream government ethnic Azeri - Zaur Dargalli became the mayor of Marneuli. President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly discussed the natural integration of the Azerbaijani community into the multicultural Georgian community in personal talks with Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The development of Georgia’s regions, where ethnic Azerbaijanis live compactly, is of paramount importance for official Baku. The Azerbaijani government is very scrupulous about the problems of Azerbaijanis in Georgia, and the level of their involvement in the process of democratic self-government of the Georgian regions is the most important indicator of the observance of the social and cultural rights of Azerbaijanis.
In contrast to the separatist sentiments in the Samtskhe-Javakheti
region, fueled by the Armenian governments and its special services, ethnic
Azerbaijanis fought faithfully for a united, indivisible, sovereign Georgia.
Being inextricably linked with their historical homeland, Azerbaijanis never claimed separation from Georgia: neither during the first republic, nor during Sovietization, nor after the restoration of political sovereignty and revision of state borders.
The Georgian Armenians are another issue. Turning the pages of history, is it worth recalling the persistent and continuous claims of Armenia to Georgia’s Lori region?!
As a result of the fierce Georgian-Armenian war in early XX century, the Dashnak Ararat government suffered a crushing defeat on the battlefields. Lori remained a part of Georgia. However, taking advantage of the historical situation, acting in the role of provoking Menshevik Georgia into a war with Soviet Armenia, and therefore with Bolshevik Russia, the Armenian separatists again raised the issue of transferring Lori and Akhalkalaki to Armenia.
On July 7, at the same historic meeting of the Caucasus Bureau with the participation of Stalin, Armenia managed to snatch Lori. Three days earlier, the same Caucasus Bureau decided to keep Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, on which even Mikoyan himself insisted in his letters to Lenin, assuring the leader that the Karabakh peasantry had nothing to do with Yerevan and should be under Baku’s jurisdiction.
Even today Armenia does not abandon its attempts to drive a wedge into our relations, but the political sagacity and foresight, the wisdom of the governments of the two countries defuse the atmosphere in the South Caucasus, neutralizing attempts of some politicians from other countries to make it toxic.
After all, early in XX century, Armenia did not abandon attempts to push Georgia against Azerbaijan. However, both then and now, political prudence and the centuries-old brotherhood of the two peoples prevailed.
Mentioning the incident with the armed transit, as well as the malicious insinuations of Armenia aimed at undermining the friendly relations of Azerbaijan with neighboring countries, it would not be superfluous to touch upon relations with Russia - another strategic partner of Azerbaijan.
No one in Azerbaijan questions the sincerely and friendly nature of the strategic partnership with Russia. Moreover, a few days ago, Ilham Aliyev called Russian leader Vladimir Putin. As was pointed out many times, the two leaders share a personal friendship and a special relationship of trust. President I. Aliyev, in conversation with Vladimir Putin, raised the problem of arms supplies from Russia to Armenia during the short-term but fierce July war with Armenia.
The press service of the Azerbaijani president did not provide information on the conversation between the two leaders. However, a few hours after the conversation, the Kremlin press service circulated a message about a call from Ilham Aliyev, who, they say, called the Russian president to congratulate him on the invention of a vaccine to combat coronavirus. In addition, according to Peskov's service, it turned out that in response to Ilham Aliyev's congratulations, Vladimir Putin began to call on Azerbaijan and Armenia to de-escalate on the front line.
The Azerbaijani public was surprised to receive the information of the press service of the Russian president. After that, official Baku was forced to provide information on the key motive of Ilham Aliyev's appeal to Vladimir Putin.
Therefore, thanks to the timely intervention of the Azerbaijani president, in the shortest possible time Azerbaijan managed to defuse the situation with its main strategic partners and find answers to the most provocative questions.
This gives rise to certain positive hopes in the sober minded political circles of our countries: relying on wisdom and mutual interests, giving preference to a balanced and mutually beneficial approach, rather than emotional outbursts, it is possible to resolve any most pressing issue.