The Caucasus

Georgia has closer relationships to Azerbaijan and Turkey than to Armenia. Reasons include Georgian anxiety over Armenia’s potential claim to Javakheti, and the enormous importance to Georgia of its trade with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Georgia’s official position on the Karabakh conflict is that of a neutral would-be conciliator.

Georgia shares with Azerbaijan a strong desire to become fully independent of Russia and reduce Russian predominance in the Caucasus and in the post-Soviet region as a whole. Armenia, by contrast, cooperates with Russia and relies on Russia’s military presence in the south Caucasus for its security.

The BTK Railway project

The ongoing Baku-Tibilisi-Kars Railway project is due to be completed in2013.  In December 2012, Prime Minister Ivanishvili surprisingly questioned the efficiency and profitability for Georgia of the project, which would connect Azerbaijan to northeastern Turkey via Georgia. Ivanishvili later backed off his remarks during a visit to Azerbaijan.

The project would link the Causasus (and Central Asia/China) to Europe(bypassing Russia); further integrate Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan; and link Georgia's largely Armenian-populated Javkheli region over which it would pass more closely into the country.  The project has been opposed by Russia, as well as its ally Armenia, which runs against their geopolitical and commercial interests.  The BTK railway would provide an alternative to Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway, as well as Armenia's South Caucasus Railway(owned by Russia).