- PM: 'We spoke more on politics rather than on economy';
- Ivanishvili says his remarks on railway were ‘hasty’ and ‘politically flawed’;
Georgia’s PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said after talks in Baku on Wednesday that he “found common language very fast” with the Azerbaijani leadership.
“I think it was a very friendly, warm and interesting meeting,” Ivanishvili said about his talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The Georgian PM said that he and the Azerbaijani President “have spoken more on politics rather than on economy.”
PM Ivanishvili’s remarks made just ahead of the visit about the Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars railway project became much-discussed issued in media outlets of the both countries.
The Georgian Prime Minister told journalists after the meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Artur Rasizade, that he probably made “hasty” and “politically flawed” remarks about the railway project, which after it is completed will link Azerbaijan with Turkey via Georgia.
Ivanishvili said in a newspaper interview last week that he had question marks about this railway project. In separate remarks on the issue on December 24 he said that although there was no threat to implementation of this railway project, there were concerns that on the initial stage of its operation the new route would possibly divert cargo from existing railway to the new one, which would also result into decline in cargo turnover in Georgia’s Black Sea ports.
Speaking with journalists in Baku on December 26 Ivanishvili indicated that he should not have spoken about it publicly and instead should have raised it privately with Azerbaijani authorities.
“As it seems, how I [said] it was politically flawed and then our opponents started speculation about it,” he said, apparently referring to President Saakashvili response to Ivanishvili’s remarks on the railway project. “Actually there were no questions about it and I have not questioned [railway’s construction]; during the meeting with President [Aliyev] I noted how careful one should be and if there is a question it should [at first] be discuss between each other and one can raise an issue openly if [no agreement] is possible, so in this regard I was perhaps little bit hasty while making such conclusion [about the railway project]… So we have agreed that if there are any questions we will [discuss] them between each other without raising it openly.”
He thanked Azerbaijan for selling its natural gas to Georgia “very cheaply”, as he said for USD 145 per 1,000 cubic meters. Ivanishvili said that Georgia should look into ways on how to reduce gas consumption tariffs internally.
Ivanishvili also said that the issue of border demarcation between the two countries was also touched upon during the talks, but it was not discussed extensively.
“The both sides know that this issue needs to be resolved,” Ivanishvili said and added that work on border demarcation would continue.
In Baku PM Ivanishvili is accompanied by Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze; Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze; Economy Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and State Minister for Diaspora Konstantine Surguladze, as well as Irakli Kovzanadze, head of the state-owned JSC Partnership Fund, which holds stakes in some of the major state enterprises, and Gia Khukhashvili, head of Georgian Development Research institute.
It is Ivanishvili’s second foreign trip after taking PM’s office in late October. He visited Brussels in mid-November.