Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the summit of the heads of the near-Caspian states - April 24, 2002

Dear Saparmurad Atayevich!

Dear heads of the states!

Ladies and gentlemen!

With my heart I welcome President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of Republic of Kazakhstan Noursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

I want to express gratitude to dear Saparmurad Atayevich for the organization of a meeting of heads of the near-Caspian states, kind hospitality and warm reception.

Till recent times Caspian Sea was a field of activity of the USSR. After the collapse of Soviet Union the independent near-Caspian states continue developed practice in Caspian Sea, carrying out necessary ecological, economic, scientific and technical actions. But necessity of preservation of unique character of Caspian Sea, protection of its special natural resources put forward a question of more effective cooperation between all near-Caspian states.

In this connection the Ashgabat summit of the near-Caspian states has great value. The initiative of the President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov deserves complete support and approval. I think that summit becomes the beginning of closer cooperation of the near-Caspian countries in Caspian Sea.

In new conditions there is a necessity of definition of a legal status of Caspian Sea. Our countries carry out significant work in this direction. The big work is conducted by expert groups in a format of deputies Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the near-Caspian states. Many meetings have been held at a level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, heads of the governments and the states on a bilateral basis. I think that good experience has been gained and the necessary basis has been created for discussion and decision-making on such important question, as a legal status of Caspian Sea.

I want to remind that the USSR, possessing monopoly on the Caspian pool, during many decades actively was engaged in studying of mineral resources of Caspian Sea, investigation and development of oil and gas deposits on the sea. This work was carried out on the basis of the organization of a petroleum industry, research establishments of Azerbaijan by the Ministry of the Oil and Gas Industry of the USSR.

It is necessary to note that investigation and exploitation of all oil and gas deposits in Caspian Sea were carried out by the Azerbaijani oilmen who have been engaged in it since 40th years of the last century. The Azerbaijani oilmen, scientists, geologists have brought significant contribution in the studying a geological structure of all water area of Caspian Sea, investigation and discovering of oil and gas fields.

In 1949 our oilmen began oil and gas extraction on the deposit Oil Rocks in Caspian Sea located on distance of hundred kilometers from the Azerbaijan coasts. The development of hydro carbonic raw material of Caspian Sea in the industrial way has just started at those times.

The Azerbaijani oilmen have extracted 480 million tons of oil and 337 billion cubic meter of gas in Caspian Sea since 1949.

Within the state independence, engaging actively in development of mineral resources of Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan has involved foreign investments in this business. All this is carried out within the limits of the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea determined by the Ministry of a petroleum industry of the USSR in 1970 for near-Caspian republics of Soviet Union. By the way, division of Caspian Sea into sectors between near-Caspian republics of Soviet Union corresponds to a principle of a median line, international law.

Simultaneously we conduct a hard work with all near-Caspian states on definition of a legal status of Caspian Sea. As a result, agreements have been signed with the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan on principles of cooperation in Caspian Sea and on differentiation of a bottom of Caspian Sea. The basis of these agreements is formed by the principle accepted by all in the world practice- division of reservoirs on sectors between the bordering and opposite states by means of application of a method of equidistance median line.

We hope that today we can define opportunities for achievement of the consent between all near-Caspian states.

Absence of a legal status should not put obstacle to continuation of realization of the sovereign rights on Caspian Sea by the coastal states and cannot form the basis for cessation of work on development and use of natural resources of Caspian Sea in already developed corresponding sectors.

The settlement of the question of a legal status of Caspian Sea between the coastal states should be carried out in spirit of respect to their sovereign rights, mutually advantageous partnership, by peace means, negotiations. Use of any forms and methods of power pressure and threats in relations between the coastal states is inadmissible.

Caspian Sea should be the sea of good neighborhood, mutually advantageous co-operation of the near-Caspian countries, the sea of friendship, the peace and safety.

Thank you for attention.