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Georgian and Azeri analysts discuss the results of Baku Summit

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, November 17
The results of the Baku Summit were the main topic of a video conference between Tbilisi and Baku held in the Ria Novosti press centre on Monday. Three analysts from both Azerbaijan and Georgia discussed the meaning of the agreement between Tbilisi and Baku on supplying natural gas to Georgia for the next five years at a set price and the importance of the Baku Declaration, adopted during the summit.

All participants stressed that the summit had been held at a time of exceptional economic conditions in the world as a whole as well as in the South Caucasus. Independent political commentator Ilgar Velizade said that the world financial crisis and the significant fall in oil prices, as well as the complicated political situation in Georgia which affected the whole region, had influenced the climate and mood of the summit.

Some analysts expressed their concern over the prospects of the implementation of the Nabucco pipeline project, which was also discussed at the Summit. Chingiz Ismailov, Head of the Regional Development Centre, noted that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan did not sign the Baku Declaration, adding that this was alarming. “The realization of the Nabucco project is in question if these two countries don’t agree to participate in it,” he said.

Economist Soso Tsiskarishvili, who represented Georgia at the video conference, confirmed the concern of his Azeri counterpart regarding the Nabucco project. He said that without the participation of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan it was “absolutely unimaginable” and impossible to realize the project. “We are used to our Government portraying a situation as “totally good.” The Government has misled us by saying that Nabucco will be realized in the near future, in two or three days,” Tsiskarishvili said. Lado Papava shared the same opinion, noting that “we should not expect any major changes without the active involvement of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in the process.” The analysts noted that if these two countries don’t take part in the project, the Nabucco pipeline will not bring any financial profit to Azerbaijan. Papava also pointed out that without the active involvement of the EU and the USA in the processes, the implementation of any major economic project will be “mere words and nothing else.”

Independent analyst Demur Giorkhelidze suggested that the level of economic integration is very low in the South Caucasus region. He said that cooperation between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia is vital for the further development of the region. “We need to achieve a unified economic space in the Caucasus,” Giorkhelidze said. Giorkhelidze’s Azeri colleagues, however, downplayed the idea, saying that it is impossible to talk about any kind of economic cooperation with Armenia at the moment.

The participants in the video conference touched upon the agreement between Georgia and Azerbaijan, according to which Azerbaijan guarantees an unhindered supply of gas to Georgia at a stable price for the next five years. According to Lado Papava it was a very important decision for Georgia’s economy, and in Azerbaijan’s interests as well. Papava said that although Azerbaijan had the chance to sell all its gas at a higher price to Russia or Iran, this would mean losing any kind of support from Europe. Georgian analysts assessed the agreement between Tbilisi and Baku as positive, however they pointed out that getting gas from Azerrbaijan at the current price for the next few years does not automatically mean that the gas tariff will not increase for the ordinary citizens of Georgia, as was suggested by Georgian officials. Analysts suggested that the Georgian Government should give strong guarantees to the Georgian population about this.