Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev on a formal reception in hotel "Hyatt Regency - Nakhchivan ", arranged on the occasion of a national holiday of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II - June 20, 2001

Dear mister ambassador!

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

I extend my hearty congratulations on the birthday of the queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - a national holiday of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and I wish all citizens of the friendly country peace, prosperity and well-being.

The history of relations of Azerbaijan and the Great Britain is not so great. In other words, diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and the Great Britain have been established after gaining of the state independence by our country, and then these relations began to develop promptly in a short time.

At the end of this year, we will mark the tenth anniversary of the state independence of Azerbaijan. It appears that the same time, it will be the tenth anniversary of the intergovernmental relations between Azerbaijan and Great Britain.

Today I should note that the Great Britain is one of the first western countries which has established diplomatic relations with our country and shown the big interest to Azerbaijan after gaining of the state independence of Azerbaijan.

Today I recollect my official visit to this country at the invitation of the government of the Great Britain in the beginning of 1994. I recollect the big work carried out during the visit for the further development of relations between our countries and realization of the future projects. I am satisfied that after words our relations consistently developed and now it is at a high level. These relations, covering as political, economic, cultural, humanitarian spheres, and all other fields, have created close contacts between our countries.

Certainly, the establishment of economic cooperation and achievement of desirable results in this field have great value for developing of intergovernmental relations. From this point of view, I want to note that Great Britain is a country interested in economic relations with Azerbaijan, in making investments in our country and investing capital in very great volume in Azerbaijan. It basically concerns the oil and gas sector. However, our cooperation develops not only in this sector, but also in other sectors of economy.

You know that more than 30 companies carry out activities in the field of exploitation of rich oil and gas deposits and extraction of natural resources in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. They represent 14 countries. However, among them "BP" is a leader. Thus, the Great Britain leads. I hope it will not concede the further leadership as well.

In September, 1994, in signing of the first contract - "Contract of century" - on exploitation and extraction of "Azeri", "Chirag", "Guneshli" deposits in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, on behalf of 11 companies esteemed John Brown, leading the company "BP" till today, delivered a speech. And I remember, he presented me a beautiful crystal vase that I had ever seen till then. To tell the truth, then it was broken when carried home. But having learned about it, they have presented me precisely the same one again.

When we signed this contract, there were many people, both trusting and not trusting in it. At that time all the people of Azerbaijan desired this contract to become a reality, to be carried out and yield the results. And to spite those if I put it that way, who did not trust and tried to prevent the promotion of our work, the contract is successfully carried out and yields its fruits. In 1997, the initial oil was received which is being exported on two routes already.

Now the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline is already underway. "BP" is happy because it assumes the lead in the second contract too, in the contract on exploitation of the deposit of "Shahdeniz", and at the same time, they had great luck to explore huge quantity of the gas resources there more than expected. Certainly, these riches will be extracted, exported to foreign countries, and first of all to Turkey.

One of these days, the president of "BP", esteemed John Brown will arrive in Azerbaijan. We will discuss the programme of the further works. They will deliver a thorough report to our government and state about the work to be carried out. I think that it will become known to all public as well. I am very pleased that remarkable prospects are seen ahead. The Great Britain, "BP" and other companies also attach great importance to these issues.

My official visit to Great Britain in 1998 at the invitation of the government of Great Britain played a particular role in intensive development of relations between our countries. At that time we held very extensive negotiations and very interesting discussions with the Prime Minister respected Tony Blair and other members of the government. Both parties have declared that our further relations would extend even more.

Mr. Tony Blair and his party again have won the last elections and organized the government. I even remember that nobody from members of the government of Great Britain could participate at the international oil and gas exhibition held in Azerbaijan in the beginning of this month. The Prime Minister esteemed Tony Blair in his letter sent to me, informed that it was connected with elections.

In addition to congratulations which I have sent to mister Blair on the occasion of his reelecting as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, today, in the day of a national holiday of Great Britain, I once again extend my congratulations to him and his party and I want to express my confidence that our cooperation will develop even more intensively.

In the letter sent to me in connection with the opening of the international oil and gas exhibition in the beginning of this month in Baku, mister Tony Blair wrote not only words of congratulation, but also very valuable ideas about the further prospects and ways of development of relations between the Great Britain and Azerbaijan. I have apprehended the letter of Prime Minister Tony Blair with great satisfaction and expressed there my agreement with all ideas stated in it. At the same time, confirming all this in the letter which I have sent to him, I have declared that our opinions concerning the further cooperation coincided. This letter, that is the letter of Prime Minister Tony Blair, is of special value. Because very concrete ideas concerning our cooperation, in particular, our relations in economic and other spheres have been put forward in it.

Congratulations and positive ideas stated by Prime Minister Tony Blair in connection with the acceptance of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe encourage us as well. I am grateful to them that they have supported us, although some deputies from Great Britain tried to create for us obstacles there in minor questions.

The most principle question for today and the future of independent Azerbaijan is to put an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of Armenia-Azerbaijan, to liberate the Azerbaijan territories occupied by the Armenian armed forces, to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and to establish the peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Southern Caucasus.

The help and vigorous activity by the government of Great Britain is very necessary for us in the settlement of this question. I am satisfied of the fact that in the letter of Prime Minister Tony Blair, which I mentioned, it was said that if the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict would be resolved, the Great Britain and its partners in the European Union would render the necessary help in carrying out of rehabilitation works on the occupied lands of Azerbaijan and improve the life of people expelled from the native places.

I think that if Prime Minister Tony Blair states such ideas, it means that he believes in the resolution of this problem. And if he believes, it means that he should help to promote the settlement of this question. In this case, the necessary aid for Azerbaijan on the part of the Great Britain and the European Union, naturally, will be very important for us.

In a word, we are pleased with relations between our countries, states and peoples. However, I think that these relations should be extended and developed even more. The Azerbaijan state will implement as well as henceforth all the tasks undertaken in order to reach it.

Dear mister ambassador, I once again congratulate You from the bottom of my heart, the government of the Great Britain, citizens of your country with this holiday and I wish your people the happy future.

Brief essays


General historical background

Azerbaijani - UK relations

Historical backgrounds

Azerbaijan - Europe