From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev ‎George Soros, with founder and chairman of the Soros Foundation - May 29, ‎‎2003‎

Heydar Aliyev: Welcome Mr. Soros. I am very glad to see you. You have not been in Azerbaijan so far. That's why I attach great importance to your visit here. You held a conference and meetings today. I also would like to listen to you.

George Soros: Thank You Mr. President. Our meeting was a bit unexpected. Thank You for receiving me. I am very pleased with our first meeting and I am glad that you are healthy and at work.

This is my first to Baku, although the Foundation already works here for seven years. Unfortunately, I couldn't visit Baku until this day, because of my work agenda. We held today a conference on the topic "Caspian oil revenues: who will win?" I arrived here for this conference. I know that the oil revenues are very important for Your country's eceonomy.

Today, when I was in Your country, I thought you possibly could be an example for the entire world. You have established an open and transparent Oil Fund for your oil revenues.

There is a meeting planned for June. This meeting will be held on the initiative and sponsorship of the British government. A number of countries will attend it and some initiator countries will be in leading positions. Azerbaijan has a reason to be proud of its transparency and openness. Recently Azerbaijan achieved great results in this sphere.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you Mr. Soros. I am very pleased to hear Your nice words and ideas. Indeed, taking into consideration the hard conditions of our country, we control everything, that is the state resources. We established the Oil Fund when we began to receive revenues from oil. There were different attitudes to our decisions. As well as from the IMF, World Bank and others. But we consider our decision to be right.

I have a good conscience, I think that even a dollar from the oil revenues has not been siphoned. This is my mission and duty. We work to prodyce oil according to the oil contracts for 9 years. Finally, we began to receive incomes and we gather it in the Oil Fund. We will do it in this way. It will be the same when Azerbaijan receives $5 billon a year. That's why, your conference is important in the context of this issue. Because everything becomes clear once again. I am very pleased that you pay attention to it. Thank you.

You have contributed $7 million to Azerbaijan since your activity here. That is very good. But today I looked at their assignments. The great part of this sum was assigned for various NGOs as grants. I don't mind it. But our greatest problem is occupation of our territories by the Armenia's armed forces and one million of our population living as refugees. Perhaps you haven't been informed about it well. Now I am telling you. That is why I'd like that at least 60-70 percent of those grants to be allocated for the refugees. The NGOs work in Baku and their conditions are well and I'd wish it to be better. But the refugees really live in very hard situation.

George Soros: We talked with some of Your officials about rendering assistance to the refugees. I think we can cooperate in this sphere as well. That is to say, we can assist You in developing a schedule and we can give credits to refugees. I mean these credits to be assigned first for the establishment of small and medium enterprises and improvement for housing and facilities for refugees.

I think that it is possible to use not only our funds, but the allocations from the Oil Fund too. Because creation of new jobs, especially not related to the oil industry, is very important for Your country. It is expedient to use the Oil Fund here.

Heydar Aliyev: I agree with you. We can prepare the schedule together and realize this issue very efficiently. It will be important for you and your foundation as well.

George Soros: Mr. President, I can feel that we can cooperate with You successfully in these spheres. We have some experiences. As You know, we work with a number of countries. I think we can use our experience in Azerbaijan too.

But I want to talk to You openly in one issue. As a businessman, I must say that to invest big sums in Azerbaijan seems me hesitative. Because Azerbaijan makes money itself and soon You will earn more, and it is possible to do great jobs in Azerbaijan.

We have programs in other countries. We call it "a step by step" program. It mainly concerns the kindergartens and primary school children. Our major goal is to form and develop a way of thinking in children to enable them to think independently in future. For this goal we spent more than $100 million, and we have prepared a model of this plan. This model is partially approved in Azerbaijan. We work with the Ministry of Education in this direction.

Heydar Aliyev: I agree with you. But we can't make much money yet. You can see how much we earned in these 3 years. We cannot earn much, so help us until 2005, and then we can also assist you. We can give you back those credits. I ask you to manage this issue in this way.

George Soros; Mr. President I agree with what you say.

Heydar Aliyev: You see, we came to an agreement in so many issues. So, it is necessary to meet and arrange connections. Your visit to Azerbaijan in connection with the conference is very important for us. But the negotiations which we had and the agreements which have been achieved and their results will be much more profitable for our country.

George Soros: Yes you are right, I think the conditions in Your country allow to achieve it. Your location is an important territory for the world. Now Your country has a mission to join the list of the first group of countries. I believe that You will achieve it. I think that You will join the list of this group of the countries divided according to transparency of the revenues. Your country's influence will increase after that. By gaining influence it will be possible to attract the foreign investment to the country. I mean it especially for the non-oil sector.

Heydar Aliyev: You are right, I think so, and we will do it in that way. I attach great importance to your advices and I want to say that they are very important for us.

I won't ask you any favor more. I will do it at our next meeting.

George Soros: It God allows. 

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, May 30, 2003

Brief essays


General historical background

Azerbaijan - USA

Historical backgrounds

Azerbaijan - USA