Azerbaijan And Georgia Share Common View On Middle Corridor – Analysis


In light of recent developments in the Caucasus, the visit of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili to Azerbaijan on April 7 is significant. The thirty years of friendly relations and partnership between the two countries should serve as an example for other South Caucasus states. Irakli Garibashvili’s claim that Azerbaijan had been viewed a friend of Georgia five times after the two leaders’ meeting should have been heard by the heads of other neighboring countries.

Although there have been sensitive issues in the relationship between the two countries, both leaders have been able to handle them successfully. In other words, there were several factors that could make the relationship between these two countries similar to the relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Nationalist sentiment existed in both countries, and minorities are present in both. Azeris live in Georgia, while a Georgian minority lives in Azerbaijan. In fact, some other countries have tried to sour relations between the two states by invoking these delicate subjects. But nevertheless, leaders of the two countries prevented these provocations. As a result, the political will of the two countries’ leaders in this case demonstrated that ties may serve as a model for Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

Both countries suffered from occupation and separatism. In reality, over the past 30 years, both countries have worked together to face common threats. Both states are in close cooperation with Turkiye, and as a result, the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trilateral cooperation has emerged, which makes a serious contribution to the cause of peace and cooperation in the region. Georgia earned the utmost respect from the government and people of Azerbaijan by refusing to let Russian weaponry into Armenia. Russia had to supply weapons to Armenia during the Second Karabakh War through Iran. Azerbaijan is in support of establishing a solution to the Abkhazia and South Ossetia disputes while supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity. Georgia’s demand for natural gas was immediately met by Azerbaijan after Russia cut off the country’s gas supply in 2006. Nowadays, Azerbaijan supplies 90% of Georgia’s demand for natural gas. Georgia also plays a crucial role in the delivery of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkiye and Europe.

At the press conference, the leaders of the two countries placed a specific emphasis on energy and transportation projects that improved the strategic value of the two countries and provided opportunities for cooperation while putting problematic issues to the side. Azerbaijan and Georgia have made significant contributions over the past 30 years to the development of the Middle Corridor connecting East and West. During the past 30 years, they have made a number of very successful measures to implement the Middle Corridor, including the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project, the Southern Gas Corridor, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. For this reason, President Ilham Aliyev made a statement that Azerbaijan and Georgia are successfully implementing the Middle Corridor. For regional cooperation, this statement is highly significant. Due to the assumption that Georgian projects would become less significant when the Zangezur corridor was put on the agenda after the Karabakh War. However, an agreement was reached between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, and Hungary on the export of green energy produced in Azerbaijan to Europe through Georgia during the President of the Republic Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Georgia last year, increasing the significance of Georgia in the Middle Corridor.

The emphasis on the Middle Corridor in the press release is also important. Especially during the second Karabakh War, a new competition for transportation projects began in the region. Armenia was given the option to join the Middle Corridor via the Zangezur corridor by Azerbaijan. In this regard, the statement about the Middle Corridor during the press conference of the leaders is also a message to Armenia, which is slowing down the Zangezur corridor. If Armenia does not open the Zangezur corridor in a short time, Azerbaijan will show that there is an alternative. The relations established between Azerbaijan and Georgia are the best alternative.

At this time, Iran had joined Armenia in blocking the Zenegzur Corridor project. Iran has recently stepped up its hostility in an effort to prevent the prospect of this project being realized. Regrettably, it was successful in doing so by applying pressure to Armenia, the South Caucasus’ weakest link. Iran has proposed a transit route between India, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, and Bulgaria. There have even been meetings on this subject. Iran considered applying pressure to Armenia, the region’s weakest link, in order to use the south-north line against the Zangezur corridor. On the other side, the Middle Corridor was backed by Turkey, the EU, and the USA. Garibashvili endorsed the Middle Corridor in a press release with Ilham Aliyev and demonstrated that the Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Black Sea project is not now on Tbilisi’s agenda. This has reduced the possibility of the Iran-Armenia south-north project to be realized.

But there is another subtle nuance here for Armenia. Successful relations established between Azerbaijan and Georgia in the last 30 years serve peace and cooperation in the region today. With energy and transportation projects, Armenia may benefit from this lesson and normalize relations with Azerbaijan. In fact, the Zangezur corridor proposed by Azerbaijan for Armenia has the characteristics of both a transport corridor and a green energy corridor.

President Aliyev has another major proposal for regional peace and cooperation. President Ilham Aliyev emphasized the importance of establishing  dialogue platform in the trilateral format of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia last October during the European Political Community summit in Prague in order to ensure peace and stability in the South Caucasus. This platform has the potential to facilitate the development of regional cooperation as well as the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Regrettably, Armenia has not yet agreed to this platform.

As a consequence, Garibashvili’s visit to Azerbaijan occurred at a pivotal moment for the South Caucasus’s developments. During this trip, Georgia and its strategic partner Azerbaijan will work together. This limits Iran’s and Armenia’s options for regional intervention. If Armenia chooses to work with Iran rather than Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia that implies that it will exclude itself from all regional projects. Nonetheless, Azerbaijan and Georgia will keep playing a greater part in ensuring global food, energy, and transportation security.

Dr. Cavid Veliev is the head of a department at the AIR Center. He worked previously for the Center for Strategic Studies (SAM) under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan as a researcher (2009-2015) and afterwards as the head of Foreign Policy Analysis Department (2015-2019). Dr. Veliyev also served as an editor in chief of Caucasus International Journal between September 2017 and January 2019.

Dr. Cavid Veliev

Dr. Cavid Veliev is the head of a department at the AIR Center. He worked previously for the Center for Strategic Studies (SAM) under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan as a researcher (2009-2015) and afterwards as the head of Foreign Policy Analysis Department (2015-2019). Dr. Veliyev also served as an editor in chief of Caucasus International Journal between September 2017 and January 2019.

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