From 23-24 May, a Georgian government delegation paid a visit to neighbouring Azerbaijan, continuing talks for the delimitation of the border issue. At the same time, ground work is being done on the Azeri side of the border to create further infrastructure and access for border guards according to Georgian Rustavi2.
The two countries are important trade partners, Azerbaijan is often seen as the largest foreign investor in Georgia, particularly for gas and oil pipelines, along with other energy-sector related infrastructures.
The delegations, headed by Lasha Darsalia on the Georgian side, and Khalaf Khalafov on the Azeri side, concluded that both sides must take into consideration their strategic partnership for a lasting resolution(1,2). The two sides apparently agreed on the participation of experts alongside government officials for a joint analysis and investigation of maps and other documents aimed at delimiting the border in a way acceptable to both sides. After the talks in Baku, Georgian foreign minister stated:
This is the first round of negotiations after a long pause, we have a difficult legacy, the Soviet legacy. Of course, all problems will not be resolved in one round nor two. These have to be worked on in a serious manner. Very delicate issues were on the negotiation table, including of course, the Davit Gareji one and the issues surrounding it…
Currently, around 30% of the state border between the two countries continues to be in dispute. The next meeting is said to take place in Tbilisi.
The negotiations between Azerbaijan and Georgia are aimed at bringing a solution to their border dispute issue, which has cause tensions in different sectors of societies in the past month.
Erisimedi village where shooting occurred
In February of last year, Georgian daily Ifact.ge reported on an incident in the village of Erisimedi when Azeri border guards shot one Georgian pastor dead when he allegedly crossed into Azerbaijan. The village is one of several contested areas without legal delimitation. Relations between the two countries briefly soured this year when the statue of an Armenian participant of the Nagorno Karabakh war was erected in an Armenian village in southern Georgia.