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Georgia: Armenia and Azerbaijan
Country Study > Chapter 8 > Foreign Relations > Relations with Neighboring Countries > Armenia and Azerbaijan

ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN


Among former Soviet republics, the neighboring Transcaucasian nations of Armenia and Azerbaijan have special significance for Georgia. Despite Georgia's obvious cultural and religious affinities with Armenia, relations between Georgia and Muslim Azerbaijan generally have been closer than those with Christian Armenia. Economic and political factors have contributed to this situation. First, Georgian fuel needs make good relations with Azerbaijan vital to the health of the Georgian economy. Second, Georgians have sympathized with Azerbaijan's position in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh because of similarities to Georgia's internal problems with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both countries cite the principle of "inviolability of state borders" in defending national interests against claims by ethnic minorities

In December 1990, Georgia under Gamsakhurdia signed a cooperation agreement with Azerbaijan affecting the economic, scientific, technical, and cultural spheres. In February 1993, Georgia under Shevardnadze concluded a far-reaching treaty of friendship, cooperation, and mutual relations with Azerbaijan, including a mutual security arrangement and assurances that Georgia would not reexport Azerbaijani oil or natural gas to Armenia. In 1993 Azerbaijan exerted some pressure on Georgia to join the blockade of Armenia and to curb incursions by Armenians from Georgian territory into Azerbaijan. The issue of discrimination against the Azerbaijani minority in Georgia, a serious matter during Gamsakhurdia's tenure, was partially resolved under Shevardnadze.

In the early 1990s, Armenia maintained fundamentally good relations with Georgia. The main incentive for this policy was the fact that Azerbaijan's blockade of Armenian transport routes and pipelines meant that routes through Georgia were Armenia's only direct connection with the outside world. Other considerations in the Armenian view were the need to protect the Armenians in Georgia and the need to stem the overflow of violence from Georgian territory. The official ties that Georgia forged with Azerbaijan between 1991 and 1993 strained relations with Armenia, which was in a state of virtual war with Azerbaijan for much of that period. Nevertheless, Gamsakhurdia signed a treaty with Armenia on principles of cooperation in July 1991, and Shevardnadze signed a friendship treaty with Armenia in May 1993. With the aim of restoring mutually beneficial economic relations in the Caucasus, Shevardnadze also attempted (without success) to mediate the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in early 1993.

Data as of March 1994




Last Updated: March 1994


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Georgia was first published in 1994. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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