President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has claimed Georgia has prevented transit for arms shipments to Armenia and said he "highly appreciates actions of the Georgian government" in the events, in an interview for a ceremony of offshore operations of the Absheron field at the Heydar Aliyev Baku Deep Water Jackets Plant.
Held on Saturday, the event was followed by an interview of Aliyev for local TV channels, in which he made comments on wide-ranging issues from the gas energy projects of his government to oil sector policy to regional tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In his remarks on the latter subject the head of the state made the claim about Georgia's denial of access for unspecified shipments of "weapons to Armenia through its territory".
In his comments Aliyev called Georgia a "reliable partner" and said the refusal of the Georgian government to allow transit shipments of arms to Armenia was the reason "transport planes deliver weapons to Armenia through the territories of the Caspian countries and by air" instead.
As you know, Georgia did not allow the transportation of weapons to Armenia through its territory [...] Georgia acted like a very reliable partner. I would like to express my gratitude to the Georgian government for this. I can say that we see the Georgian government as a reliable partner and friend," Aliyev said in the interview.
The comments follow a story by Haqqin online publication in July that claimed "mortar ammunition of varying calibres" had been delivered to Armenia from Serbia through the Georgian territory ahead of the four-day armed clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan that started on July 12. The Georgian foreign ministry denied the claims and called the piece a "disinformation".
The Azerbaijani president also made claims about "ethnic Armenians disguised under Georgian names" working to "strike a blow at the Georgian-Azerbaijani ties" within Georgia, and condemned "separatist tendencies" of ethnic Armenians living in Georgian regions.
Aliyev also told the local press his foreign minister would pay his first official visit to Georgia in the new capacity "in the near future" and said "developing cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan serve the interests of both countries", in the long-form interview.