Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the reception organized by the USA oil companies in New York. September 29, 1994

Ladies and gentlemen!

A historical event took place in Baku, Azerbaijan on September 20. A big contract was signed between Azerbaijan and the  largest oil companies of the world for thirty years.

You know that Azerbaijan is an oil country and has been known as the“Land of Fires” since the ancient times. Azerbaijan was the country, which produced the commercial oil first – the first oil fountain gushed in Baku in 1847. A few years later, an oil fountain gushed in Pennsylvania, USA. It is true that the first oil gusher, which took place in Baku, was not so famous in the world. Therefore, many people think that the first one took place in Pennsylvania. Later this historical fact was researched. At the ceremony of the signature of the oil contract in Baku on September 20, based on this historical fact I declared to the whole world that the oil fountain gushed in Baku a few years before that in Pennsylvania.

In 1901, the country produced 50 percent of the oil of the world. The 20th century is coming to its end. The Azerbaijani oil has been well-known and used all over the world. Unfortunately, the name and activity of Azerbaijan was not known worldwide, including in the USA. Now, at the turn of 20th and 21st century, the Azerbaijani oil is gaining popularity in the world again. The 3-year negotiations came to an end and a historical contract was signed. It is a historical event both for Azerbaijan and the oil companies, which signed the contract on the cooperation with our country.

The contract is realizable thanks to the independence of Azerbaijan. Commercial oil is being extracted in Azerbaijan for 150 years. However, our people was not the owner of this wealth. The people of Azerbaijan signed a contract of historical importance with foreign oil companies for the first time. I am very pleased that close relations have been established between Azerbaijan and the USA in connection with the 3-year preparation of this contract. Now Azerbaijan has a lot of friends in the United States of America. Not so many as we wish though. However, the number of our friends is a lot more now than before.

I am very glad that Congressman Greg Laughlin spoke good words about Azerbaijan. Yesterday I visited the Harriman Institute, the research center studying the former Soviet Union, founded at Columbia University. and met the staff of the institute and Professor Tadeusz Swietochowski, who loves Azerbaijan and writes about our country a lot. I am very happy that there is such a person as Professor Swietochowski. He writes the truth about Azerbaijan. At the same time, I regret that there is only one Swietochowski for Azerbaijan in the United States of America. I was told that there will be more people like Swietochowski henceforth. When Mr. Laughlin made a speech here, I thought why there is only one Laughlin. I would like hundreds of people like him to work for Azerbaijan in the United States of America.

Perhaps Mr. Laughlin wants to be single so that people in Azerbaijan love only him. But I guess that Mr. Laughlin is a kind person and wouldn`t mind if there are more Congressmen, who love Azerbaijan like him. Today I recall the reception at Gulustan Palace, which took place on September 20. The hall of Gulustan Palace is 4-5 times larger than this one. Half of the guests at the reception were from the United States of America. I thought then and I think now that the number of friends of Azerbaijan in the United States of America has increased. I think that the number of people like Laughlin is more now. But it is only the beginning of our work. We will expand the scope of our cooperation and strengthen our relations. The contract signed in Baku has economic, humanitarian and political significance. When I signed a decree on September 14 on the conclusion of that contract I thought that it was a serious step for the demonstration of the independence of Azerbaijan to the world. This is true. There were many forces who obstacled the contract and even threatened us. However, the independence of Azerbaijan is now so strong that no threat scared us and we signed the contract.

I am sure that this is a very brave and promising step for the future Azerbaijan. The western and the USA companies also think so. All aspects of the contract, including economic one, are very important for us. This contract establishes a solid foundation for developing the relations of Azerbaijan with the USA and other western nations.

The contract was signed on September 20. The President of Azerbaijan paid the first visit to the USA on September 25 and had meetings and negotiations with the US President Bill Clinton on September 26. Today we have gathered here and are celebrating that historical event as we did at Gulustan Palace. Look how many important events took place within a week. All these are historical events for the independent Azerbaijan. All these are the feelings of the people of Azerbaijan. All these are a sign of respect and tribute of the Azerbaijani people to the West and the USA. All this is the first bridge of friendship between our nations. I think that no force can impede us on this way. We have taken a brave step and are ready to go further. As President of Azerbaijan, I will fulfill my duty. I will do my best for the expansion of friendly relations between Azerbaijan and the USA. I am sure that the US citizens will get acquainted with Azerbaijan and see how good-hearted our people is.

I congratulate all of you on the occasion of this historical event. I am very pleased to be in New York, the USA nowadays. I think that my meetings with the US President Bill Clinton is very important for Azerbaijan. I am sure that all these factors are a very good basis for friendly relations between Azerbaijan and the United States. Mr. Laughlin said that he has been to Azerbaijan twice. I invited him to pay a third visit to our country. I invite all of you. Some of you will visit Azerbaijan even without my invitation because of your businesses. But just know that we are ready to host each of you as a dear guest.

Today's meeting is a historical event for us. I wish all of you good health and happiness. I wish the USA more power. I express my best wishes to the American people.

“Azerbaycan”, September 30, 1994

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