Georgia's Prime Minister, Bidhzina Ivanishvili is in Azerbaijan on a short official visit during which he has met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and other senior Azerbaijani officials. Apart from a brief visit to Brussels in November Ivanishvili has not travelled overseas since his election in the begining of October. The visit to Baku is a reaffirmation of the important and strategic nature of the relationship between Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Commonspace.eu political editor made the following comment on the visit:
"Bidhzina Ivanishvili is the third Georgian leader that president Ilham Aliev has had to deal with since he became leader of Azerbaijan in 2003. First there was Edward Shevardnadze, who the Azerbaijani leader respected because of his friendship with his father, and also because he was instrumental in the first projects that gave Azerbaijan economic independence, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. When Shevardnadze was overthrown, Aliev moved quickly to establish good relations with Mikheil Saakashvili. The two men have different temprement and do not share views on many issues but both understood the strategic nature of the Georgian-Azerbaijani relationship and put a lot of effort in making it work, which it did.
Ivanishvili is in many ways closer to Aliev in both temprement and political ideas. They both seek to prioritise improving the standard of living of their populations above other issues. They both take a pragmatic approach to relations with Russia. And they both have good business acumen. It is likely that Ivanishvili will in some ways be the most difficult of the three leaders that Aliev has had to deal with, simply because Ivanishvili will want to cut a better deal for Georgia. Ivanishvili as an astute businessman understands the value of Georgia for Azerbaijan and will; make the case in Baku forcefully. Now is the time for Azerbaijan to be generous in its relationship with Georgia for a successful Georgia is in the interest of Azerbaijan too. A strong Georgia-Azerbaijan relationship will also provide a good basis for future regional co-operation.
Like previous Georgian leaders Ivanishvili needs to balance his relationship with Azerbaijan with an equally solid relationship with Armenia. The dynamic of that relationship is different, but no less important. Ivanishvili will go to Armenia in January.
Ivanishvili's trip to Baku is of great regional importance. It is an important block in the construction of the future of the region where economics are becoming increasingly more important."
photo: Georgian prime Minister Bidhzina Ivanishvili with President Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan in baku on 26 December 2012 (photo courtesy of the Bidhzina Ivanishvili facebook page)