Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the Summit of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation - Bucharest, June 30, 1995

Distinguished Mr. Chairman, heads of states, ladies and gentlemen!

Let me express my satisfaction connected with the second meeting of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and greet the distinguished heads of states, delegations of the participant countries, their members and representatives of the influential international organizations. Mr. Iliescu, I congratulate you for your being elected chairman of our meeting and extend my gratitude to you and the Romanian people for the warm welcome and hospitality to our delegation and fine conditions created for the work of the Summit in Bucharest. I am confident that the present high level meeting will be an important stage on the way of close and efficient cooperation of our countries for peace, stability and prosperity in the Black Sea region.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen! As a number of BSEC countries, Azerbaijan experiences difficulties of the period of transition. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and achieving independence, we pursued the road of establishing a democratic and judicial state and substantial market reforms.

Despite objective hardships inherent to such historical changes, we have gained some achievements on this road. Human rights have been ensured in Azerbaijan, irrespective of one`s nationality, language, religion and political adherence. Dozens of parties, hundreds of independent newspapers and news agencies and TV companies operate in condition of full liberty and pluralism. We have achieved the elimination of unconstitutional acts and ensured complete internal political stability in the republic. The undertaken measures and realization of deep democratic reforms are fully supported by the majority of the population.

We are going to hold the first free parliamentary elections on the multiparty basis on November 12 of this year and we are sure that the elections will be an important step in strengthening democratic traditions in Azerbaijan. On the same day we will hold a referendum for the adoption of the first democratic Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan.

We actively realize economic reforms for establishing free market relations and integrating into the world community as an equal partner. We achieved in curbing inflation. Successful reforms in the sphere of agriculture are under way. A program of privatization of state property has been approved and is to be implemented in the nearest future.

A long-term international cooperation began in the sphere of exploration of the energy resources in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea after the signature of the "Contract of the Century" with the biggest oil companies of the world. I want to say that I am satisfied with the active participation of the companies representing BSEC member countries as Russia and Turkey. Several member countries are our potential partners in the exportation of the energy resources of the Caspian shelf. I am confident that the implementation of this project will lay a solid foundation for the real and mutual economic integration of the countries of the Caspian and Black Sea basins and give us an opportunity to be an important factor of the world economy on the eve of the 21st century.

Along with it, we face numerous obstacles on the road in the realization of the democratic reforms and strengthening political and economic independence of Azerbaijan. The main obstacle imposed on us is the war. As you know, the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against Azerbaijan continues for seven years. This aggression resulted in the occupation of 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory, forcible expulsion of over a million of our citizens from the occupied territories, and they live in very hard conditions in tent camps.

Despite all this, great losses and victims, we try to settle the conflict peacefully and establish of peace and friendly neighborhood in our region. Of coarse, on condition of ensuring the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. The UN SC adopted four resolutions connected with the conflict. The resolutions denounce the aggression and demand the unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces. But Armenia ignores these resolutions so far.

We are satisfied with the recent efforts of OSCE in the settlement of this conflict. In December last year, the Budapest Summit of OSCE adopted important decisions on the peaceful settlement of the conflict and establishment of peace-building forces on this purpose. Two stages of negotiations were held in Moscow and Helsinki in the framework of the Minsk Group of the OSCE afterwards. We hope that the negotiations will be continued and result in long-awaited peace. There are favourable conditions for it, and must be taken advantage of it.

A ceasefire agreement was achieved in the zone of the conflict in May of the last year. This agreement is maintained for more that thirteen months without the participation of any special outside force. We declare that we shall obey the ceasefire regime further for the sake of achieving firm and just peace. Along with it we think that lingering of negotiating process is unacceptable. The situation of "neither peace nor war" can not last long. We can not agree with the efforts of Armenia to keep up the present situation of the negotiations and status quo connected with the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

That is why I appeal to the heads of the delegations to use their opportunities and influence for implementing of the decisions of the UN Security Council and Budapest Summit of OSCE on the rapid solution of the conflict, ensuring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and return of over a million Azerbaijani refugees to their homes as well.

Distinguished participants! Increasing mutual dependence in the world, integration of the world economy and regionalization are distinguishing features. The objective essence of this tendency is clear. It reflects the interests of the states to get maximum benefits from the advantages of the international division of labor, the tendency of integration of financial and natural resources for the implementation of big economic projects.

Azerbaijan closely participates in the development of the regional economic cooperation as a member of a number of regional organizations. Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in its foreign economic policy. I would like to note with satisfaction that the past three years for BSEC have not been fruitless. The Black Sea region becomes a territory of mutual beneficial cooperation and partnership. The turnover in trade increases among the BSEC countries, the number of joint ventures invested by the countries of the region increases as well.

For expanding economic cooperation it is necessary to develop and improve the legislation of these countries connected with the regional trade and to sign bilateral and multilateral agreements which may ensure business cooperation.

Improvement of transport and communications demands special attention, which are the vital arteries of the economic cooperation in the framework of the BSEC organization. We are satisfied with such a fact that the representatives of our countries have completed the organizational work for the establishment of the Black Sea Bank of Trade and Development. The activity of this bank will form the bases of the system of financial operation among the member countries and within the BSEC organization as well. It will give an opportunity to implement big regional projects into life with the financial assistance of the bank in the nearest future.

One of the acute problems of the region is ecology of the Black Sea and its environment. Along with it, I think that it is necessary to consider the issue of protection of the environment of the rare territory situated between the Caspian Sea and Black Sea. Because, these two basins are closely connected with the nature.

Ladies and gentlemen! The Bucharest meeting is a next stage in the history of the organization, it summarizes the joint work and determines the future ways of its development. We note the constructive spirit of the meeting, and intend to take an active part in the process of cooperation for the sake of the stability, prosperity and development of the region. Azerbaijan will be your reliable and worthy partner in.

Thank you for the attention.