(Eurasianet) For years, Georgia has been a safe harbor for dissidents seeking to escape persecution from authorities in neighboring Azerbaijan. But in recent months, a number of high-profile Azerbaijani opposition activists have been denied residency permits in Georgia, prompting accusations that Tbilisi is collaborating with Baku to make life more difficult for the Azerbaijani opposition.
On April 19, an opposition rapper and journalist, Jamal Ali, flew from his home in Berlin to Tbilisi, but was denied entry by Georgian border guards at the airport. “They said they entered my name into the system to check it, and it displayed a message that read ‘we cannot let you into the country,’” Ali said. Ali believes the reason he was barred from entry was a critical report that he had prepared in January for Meydan TV, a Berlin-based Azerbaijani opposition outlet. […]
Azerbaijan and Georgian are strategically interdependent on one another, said Kornely Kakachia, director of the Georgian Institute of Politics. “Azerbaijan needs Georgia as a transit country towards the Black Sea, and Georgia needs Azerbaijan in energy projects. SOCAR is one of the biggest companies here, and this is why relations are good,” Kakachia said.
But there will be a limit to how much Georgia is willing to do for Azerbaijan, Kakachia said. “Georgia has signed an agreement with the European Union, and cannot ignore issues related to human rights,” he said. “From time to time they might cooperate [with Azerbaijan on cracking down on dissidents], but they can’t do it on a large scale.”
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