Speech by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the business conference on the topic "New opportunities in the Black Sea region" held in Istanbul – April 28, 1997

Distinguished Mr. Chairman!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I am greeting the distinguished heads of states and all participants of the business conference on the topic "New opportunities in the Black Sea region" co-organized by the Working Council of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Council of Foreign Economic Relations of the Turkish Republic.

I thank President Suleyman Demirel and organizers for hospitality and for creating favorable working conditions for us.

It is remarkable that our conference is taking place in beautiful Istanbul. Five years ago – in June 1992, eleven nations of the Black Sea basin declared the establishment of a new international organization to turn this area into a region of peace, stability and progress and increase welfare of our peoples.

I can pleasantly note that the last five years proved correctness of that decision, as well as necessity and ability of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Much work has been done for expanding and deepening cooperation in many fields, positive results have been achieved in regional trade and economic cooperation during that period.

All these factors created favorable conditions for our cooperation to reach new and higher levels. Business conference is one of such new forms of member-states of the BSEC. Businesspeople and representatives of business circles from member-countries of the organization are taking part at the conference. No doubt, it will help our cooperation succeed, our plans become more concrete, and enable us establish joint enterprises and solve problems.

Participation of heads of states and governments of member-countries of the BSEC, of UN representatives, of officials of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation and other prominent international institutions at this conference proves the necessity of the BSEC.

I am sure that our conference will create conditions to use enormous economic potential of our region better, help increase investments and implement our regional economic projects.

For example, there are great opportunities for cooperation and investment in the fields of transportation, energy, and communication. Projects on transport infrastructure of the Black Sea economic cooperation region is of great importance. This infrastructure will integrate with the European transport system. Connecting transport projects of the BSEC with TRACECA will open new horizons for cargo transportations between European and Asian countries.

The project on integration of energy systems of the member-countries of the BSEC is a promising one. We can count it as a step to establishment of integrated energy system of Eurasia. The Black Sea region is of special importance in terms of transportation of energy carriers from the Caspian Sea basin. It also creates necessity of establishment of an environmentally safe and reliable system of transportation.

Azerbaijan is interested in these projects and intends to participate in their realization.

Ladies and gentlemen!

The main purpose of the BSEC is to ensure prosperity of our region, peace and welfare for our peoples. Thus, continuation of current armed conflicts in our region is unacceptable.

Evidently, Azerbaijan has suffered a lot from the aggression of the Armenian Republic – 20% of our territories have been occupied, over one million Azerbaijanis have become refugees and they are living in hard conditions.

Main principles were adopted on behalf of 53 member-states of OSCE at OSCE Lisbon summit in December 1996 on resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. They are following:

-       Territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan;

-       Broad autonomy of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan;

-       Security for Nagorno-Karabakh population.

These principles were re-confirmed by the resolution of the PACE on April 22, 1997.

In order to implement the decisions of the Lisbon summit, we are taking all necessary actions. We hope 1997 will be a decisive year for achieving a peace treaty.

We rely on increase of activity of OSCE Minsk Group and efforts of its co-chairs Russia, the USA and France, as well as efforts of the countries of the Black Sea basin on peaceful resolution of this protracted conflict.

We call Armenia to participate in peaceful resolution of the conflict based on principles confirmed by OSCE Lisbon summit.

Using this tribune, I reaffirm the decisive position of the Azerbaijan Republic that our state intends to follow the ceasefire regime that has been lasting for three years, until a peace treaty is signed.

I hope we will be able to settle all conflicts in our region with joint efforts and establish strong peace, stability, progress and cooperation among our nations. Thank you for your attention.

Translated from "Azerbaycan" (newspaper), April 29, 1997