From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with Mr. Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission - Istanbul, Chiragan Palace, November 19, 1999

Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished Mr. Prodi, I am very glad to meet You again. I cordially congratulate You on the occasion of Your election as a president of the European Commission. I attach great importance to expansion of relations and close cooperation between the institutions of the European Union and Azerbaijan. Restoration of the historic Great Silk Way and enlargement of cooperation via program of TRASECA is a remarkable event. I am confident that these projects will play a special role in development of transport communication between Europe and Asia.

I would like to note humanitarian and technical assistance of the European Union to our country with gratitude. I highly appreciate the assistance of the European Union in the framework of the TACIS program in restoration of our liberated regions in the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I am confident that these programs will continue successfully under your leadership.

Romano Prodi: Distinguished Mr. President! Thank You for your cordial congratulations on my election as the President of the European Commission. The European Union attaches great importance to the cooperation with Your country. The European institutions are interested not only in economic cooperation with the Caucasus region, but also in overall cooperation as well.

The conference held in Baku in September 1998 on the restoration of the Great Silk Way is of great importance. I would like to specially note that the event is very important in determining the development strategy of the region.

Heydar Aliyev: That is right, Mr. Prodi. I must also say that in the Republic of Azerbaijan, which moves forward in the path of independence with confidence, the process of democratization and reforms are conducted successfully. Exploration of the energy resources of the Caspian Sea and their transportation are also conducted with success. As You know, our country is the initiator of these projects. An oil contract called as “the Contract of the Century”, signed in Baku in 1994, thanks to great efforts, is of great importance for implementation of further oil projects.

To transport the Caspian oil to the world market, Baku-Supsa oil pipeline has been put into use in April of this year, along with Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline. I would like to notably stress the importance of the signature of the documents in Istanbul on construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan as the main oil pipeline. We faced many hardships on this path. Pressures were exerted on our countries and efforts were made to destabilize the countries of the region. Despite all these hardships, the reality of construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline pleases me very much.

Moreover, I want to emphasize that our country closely cooperates with foreign companies in exploration of the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea and Italian Company “ENI-AGIP” also actively took part in project.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is the main problem for the independent Azerbaijan, continues for 12 years and one fifth of our territories have been occupied and more than a million of our compatriots languish in tent camps as refugees as a result of the aggression of the Armenian armed forces.

Despite all this, our country is for peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The ceasefire is observed for five years. The OSCE Minsk Group is in charge of the settlement of the conflict since 1992, but we have not yet achieved tangible results.

Several meetings have taken place between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia recently. It is very necessary that the process of the settlement of the conflict continues in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Our country relies on assistance of the international community for settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and for elimination of its consequences.

Romano Prodi: Distinguished Mr. President! I highly appreciate the production of the energy resources of the Caspian Sea and their transport to the world market. I cordially congratulate You on the occasion of the signature of the documents and other projects on construction of Baku-Ceyhan main oil pipeline.

Large prospects opened for the development of partnership between Azerbaijan and European Union. My organization is ready for all kind of assistance for establishment of peace and stability in the region.

Distinguished Mr. President! Let me note that I am very pleased with this interesting talk.