Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev in the solemn ceremony devoted to the fifth anniversary of "the Contract of the century" in a palace "Republic" - September 20, 1999

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Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Dear visitors, friends!

I heartily congratulate you, the whole Azerbaijani people and citizens on this holiday - fifth anniversary of the "Contract of the century".

"The Contract of the century" and its five year history of fulfillment and nice achievements are the results of process for legal, democratic, secular state construction in Azerbaijan. This is the result of well thought-out external and internal policy of the Azerbaijan state, the consistent policy conducted in the field of an establishment of principles of the market economy in Azerbaijan, integration of our country into the world economy and attraction of foreign investments to our republic. It is the result of a teamwork executed by all of us after signing the contract five years ago.

Today on this occasion, I congratulate the Azerbaijan International Operational Company and all its employees, the Azerbaijan State Oil Company, all oilmen, organizations, enterprises, all people who carried out activity in connection with the implementation of this contract and I express my gratitude to all of them.

I express my sincere gratitude to the state delegations who have found time and come to this remarkable holiday, for their kind words told here and high estimation given to "the Contract of the century" and its fulfillment.

Letters of congratulations have been sent to us for this holiday. Congratulations came from mister William Clinton, the President of the United States of America, mister Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of the Great Britain, mister Suleiman Demirel, the President of Turkey, mister Obutchi, the Japanese Prime Minister, mister Bondevik, the Norwegian Prime Minister, mister Verkhofstadt, the Prime Minister of Belgium, presidents of our neighboring countries: mister Shevardnadze, the President of Georgia, mister Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan, mister Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, king of Saudi Arabia and many other politicians, statesmen, and these congratulations sounded here.

The feeling of deep respect and esteem for the Azerbaijan state is reflected in these congratulations. Works done by Azerbaijan together with the largest oil companies of many states of the world were highly estimated in these congratulations. There were expressed best wishes and successes in our future activities in these congratulations. I express my gratitude for all this.

Azerbaijan is an ancient oil land. The oil production by the industrial method has 150-year history in Azerbaijan. This history can be conditionally divided into three stages: the first - from the beginning of oil production till 1918-1920, the second - after that till Azerbaijan gained its state independence and the third - the period of the independent Azerbaijan state.

Within these 150 years, the petroleum industry of Azerbaijan constantly developed and served not only the Azerbaijan but also peoples of the whole world. After 1918-1920, the petroleum industry of Azerbaijan greatly developed scientific, technical and personnel potential in petroleum industry was formed. Azerbaijan rendered her services in discovering and development of new oil deposits in the territory of the former Soviet Union. The oil, extracted in Azerbaijan during the Second World War, played an exceptional role in achievement of a victory over the German fascism.

Azerbaijan has become the oil academy. The Azerbaijani oilmen have worked and continue to work today as well in territory of the former Soviet Union, in Russia, in the regions called "the second Baku", "the third Baku", "the fourth Baku", and other places.

The greatest merit of the Azerbaijani people, the Azerbaijani oilmen and scientists may be that they have discovered rich oil and gas deposits in the Caspian Sea 50 years ago and 50 years ago, for the first time the oil extraction by industrial way on Oil Rocks began. It was an event to take place for the first time in the world.

Our visitor from Great Britain, who delivered a speech here, noted that they had been extracting oil in the Northern Sea for 30 years. Yes, but Azerbaijan started oil extraction in Caspian Sea 50 years ago. Then our experience was spread all over the world, and now everywhere in the world the largest oil fields possessing modern techniques, technology, capable to extract oil from sea depths, have been established. Existence of oil and gas deposits in the Caspian Sea, their exploring and presentation to whole world is the greatest merit by the Azerbaijani people, scientists and oilmen.

Due to all these, we could sign “the Contract of the century" five years ago. As it is known, "Azeri", "Chiraq" and "Guneshli" deposits were discovered in 1970, and the oil extraction began there. Later, other deposits were discovered in the Caspian Sea their gas and oil potential were defined. The Azerbaijani oilmen, geologists, scientists have discovered oil and gas deposits not only in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, but also on all water area of the sea. All these are the great merits of oilmen, scientists, geologists who carried out activity in the field of oil before us. Today we should remember it with a feeling of gratitude and be grateful to them ever for these merits.

After Azerbaijan signed "the Contract of the century" five years ago, the Caspian littoral countries also started development of oil and gas deposits in their sectors and ares of the Caspian Sea. Thus, Azerbaijan has discovered rich oil and gas deposits in the Caspian Sea and played the big part in providing oil and gas production in the Caspian Sea. At the end of XX century and on the threshold of XXI century, Azerbaijan laid down a basis for the use of all energy riches and resources of the Caspian Sea not only for Azerbaijan but also for the entire world, including all Caspian littoral states. Today we are proud of it.

Due to all these “the Contract of the century” and all works, carried out by us, have a great historical value. Due to all these, “the Contract of the century" has an international value. Due to all these, the contract signed five years ago has been named “the Contract of the century".

Today in Ilham Aliev`s report and in other speeches here, a detailed information was presented on the work, done for the last five years. We can already see the profits of the oil contract. Azerbaijan has got incomes. We already extract oil, we export it and have constructed two oil pipelines for export of oil and we try to create the main oil pipeline. Today I declare that for transportation of the Azerbaijan oil, the Caspian oil to the world markets, the Baku - Ceyhan oil pipeline, having huge value, must be constructed and be put into operation.

We know what profit Azerbaijan will get in the forthcoming years, decades from the "Contract of the century" and other signed contracts, and concrete figures in this connection have been prodused. When "the Contract of the century" was about to be signed, some people did not trust us, were apprehended afraid and others made sabotage. Anyway, the process of its signing and realization was very complicated very hard for Azerbaijan. However, we passed all the tests, removed all difficulties, sustained all the resistance, rendered to us, and kept our word and the first oil was extracted in 1997.

"The Contract of the Century" was concluded due to the trust rendered to the independent Azerbaijan state by the great powers, countries and their oil companies. Then our work together with our partners, the companies which are included in the International Operational Company, has once again proved to the entire world that firstly, the Caspian Sea, its Azerbaijan sector, possessed rich oil and gas deposits, and secondly, - it was possible to conduct long-term, reliable activity with the Azerbaijan state.

The processes of democratic construction carried out in Azerbaijan constitute the basis of all these. A principle of Azerbaijan’s openness for the entire world constitutes the basis of all. Consecutive normalization and stabilization of internal socio-political situation after 1993 in Azerbaijan, constitute the basis of all. In conditions of just this stability, today`s stable and free life in Azerbaijan, the oil companies of the world, the biggest countries, states, might have rendered trust to Azerbaijan, began to cooperate with us. For this reason in the last three years, additional 18 contracts have been signed. Today we have 19 contracts with the largest oil companies of the world, the companies belonging to 14 countries. I can tell you without any hesitation that each of them will be implemented successively, as "the Contract of the century".

Our works being carried out now and will be carried out are both in the name of today and future of Azerbaijan. We want to make our country always independent and free. We have achieved it. But still much should be done to provide our independence, economic and political independence.

We want to make our country economically developed. We want to create a prosperous life for the citizens of our country. We want to live constantly as an independent state. All these works, which are carried out not only in the sphere of oil, but also in all other spheres of economy and life of Azerbaijan, exactly pursue this purpose. You know that we have achieved significant successes in other fields of economy as well. We overcame the economic recession existed till 1995. Since 1996 the Azerbaijani economy experiences the period of development and the gross domestic product, industrial and agricultural production develops and grows every year.

In 1994, the inflation constituted 1600 percent in Azerbaijan. In 1997, we managed to prevent it. Today there is no inflation; value of the manat, our national currency, has increased. All these helped to improve the well-being of our citizens. For the last 3-4 years, the average wages of our citizens have increased three times. All these are insufficient. We cannot be satisfied with it. Today we just want to recollect the achieved successes once again.

Today, when we mark here the fifth anniversary of "the Contract of the century", we are being listened in every corner of Azerbaijan. I think that our dear compatriots living in small tent towns, who were expelled from the native lands, becoming refugees as a result of occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands by the Armenian armed forces, are now listening to us as well. They trust us and undergo hardships, while listening to us, they think: everything is good, but when we will return to our native homes, to the native lands? Today I declare that all the work carried out by us is necessary for strengthening of Azerbaijan as the state and increasing its economic potential. Undoubtedly, all these will promote the settlement of other problems too.

I declare that we will achieve the peaceful resolution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and our compatriots, expelled from their native lands, will return to their lands and Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity will be ensured.

Thus, oil strategy of the Azerbaijan state has already yielded its positive results and recognized in the world. And it is one of the factors making a basis for independent, free development of Azerbaijan in XX century.

I have noted that the work carried out by us is directed to the future. Every year we shall achieve nice results of this work and our people will feel it. However, the duty of our present generation, including my duty as the President of Azerbaijan, consists of doing our utmost for strengthening the state construction in Azerbaijan, and making strengthening the Azerbaijan such a powerful state, so that our country could be as independent as ever. Our duty is to lay down the basis for a free and safe life of the future generations. We carry out all these and huge incomes, riches, gained from "the Contract of the century" and other contracts, lay down the basis for a happy life of the future generations of the Azerbaijani people. That is the way we perform our duty before the generations.

Azerbaijan is a peace-loving state. Azerbaijan wants the peace both in the country and in the region and all over the world. Therefore we want the peace in the Caucasus, all over the world. I am sure that we will achieve peace and prosperity. All of us want Azerbaijan to live in peace, prosperity and well-being.

I wish successes to the Azerbaijan state, people and nation in the future. I am absolutely confident that everything we do today, will lead Azerbaijan forward, will raise, will raise and will raise the banner of Azerbaijan!