Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the opening ceremony of the office of TRACECA`s permanent secretariat in Baku - February 21, 2001


Dear Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden!

Dear Mister Secretary General!

Dear Mister Commissioner!

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

I heartily greet you in Azerbaijan, welcome to our country!

This visit of the delegation of the European Union, consisting of the high-ranking and honorable persons, to the countries of Southern Caucasus, including to Azerbaijan, is a manifest of interest of the European Union in our region, also in Azerbaijan, and, naturally, in the development of relations. Thank you for this visit. Notwithstanding you have delivered a few for visiting to Azerbaijan, that will be quiet sufficient for you to feel once again the attitude to the program TRACECA in Azerbaijan.

The European Union carries out many-branched, many-sided activity. First of all, the European Union deals with problems of the further strengthening of close relations among the countries, admitted to this organization, and with their developments. At the same time, the European Union, shows interest in other regions of the world being beyond of its member countries. In this respect, the program TRACECA, which was established approximately in 1992-1993, is of great importance.

We highly appreciate the measures, which have been taken till now by the European Union concerning the realization of the program TRACECA. However, at the same time it is perceived by us as the beginning of the big work. With the object of strengthening this work, on the initiative of the European Union and the states, which are taking part in the program TRACECA, and also on our initiative, the International conference devoted to the realization of this program and restoration of the Great Silk way was held in September of 1998 in Baku and as a result, a document was signed. The conference established a secretariat of the program TRACECA and made a decision on its accommodation in Azerbaijan. We have apprehended it with feeling of deep satisfaction and made a decision on giving one of the most ancient buildings of Baku to the disposal of this secretariat.

Our guests spoke highly on the beauty and a present condition of this building. The allocation of this building for the European Union TRACECA program and the work carrying out for restoration of the Silk way is not casual.

This building is one of the architectural monuments of Azerbaijan, Baku. In due time, in the beginning of XX century, a great person, a great proprietor of Azerbaijan Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev constructed this building and worked here for a long time.

The Azerbaijani people not only now, but also in those days aspired to the integration of Azerbaijan`s national-cultural values into universal values, European values. Just the construction of this building in the European style 100 years ago, belonging both its external and interior appearance to the European architectural style is a visual proof for it.

Naturally, now in many places it became fashionable to build buildings in modern style and to place offices in such buildings. But we didn`t go on this way. We have provided with a building, constructed in classical European style, so that it was dear to the European Union. And you see, how beautifully it was built in the past.

For instance, now here the floor has been carpeted, and I do not see it, but there, at the office of the secretary general, we glanced at the floor. The floor is of 100-years, but looks like created as if it has been done today. They paid attention to quality. And look, how wide the walls are. Now everything is economized on, and thin walls are constructed. And these fall out for a short time.

I am just speaking about one of the monuments, which Azerbaijan has made use of the European architecture. However, there are many such monuments in Azerbaijan. It demonstrates that Azerbaijan showed interest in Europe, the European values, the European countries since the most ancient times.

At the same time we connect the program TRACECA with restoration of the ancient Great Silk way. As a matter of fact, when program TRACECA was put forward, I think, it has really been considered that it was not only meant for the countries covering the program TRACECA, but also for restoration of the Great Silk way, and it is very important. At the conference we have obviously determined that the ancient Silk way, connecting Asia with Europe, the East with the West, keeps its urgency today as well and is shorter than other ways between the East and the West. Transportation of cargo is carried out more quickly, during a short time and costs cheaper. Therefore, we consider that the decisions, adopted in 1998 at the Baku conference, should be implemented.

It seems to me that in lately times, the European Union has lost interest in the realization of the program TRACECA. I must say the truth. It becomes obvious if we compare the present period with the previous one. However, I do not consider it right and I think that the visit of such big delegation to the countries of Southern Caucasus will put an end to this cool attitude to the program TRACECA and this program will be carried out quickly again at a great rate.

Addressing to you, I want to say: that you should not grudge allocation for the program TRACECA. Because it will not bring advantage neither to you, nor to us. You have a lot of money, you will get double it - three times as much you invest here. Already both you and we all are convinced that the program TRACECA, restoration of the Great Silk way is one of the largest programs for today and for XXI century. The more we can provide an all around development of this program, the integration of the countries of Southern Caucasus, Central Asia, and Middle Asia into Europe will go more promptly.

The office has already been established. This building should not be empty. It is necessary to work here. But how to work without means? In this fine building, it is necessary to consider, discuss good projects and to realize them. There are such projects. There is a saying among the people in Azerbaijan: "Senden hereket, menden bereket" (If you try, you will be success). I understand, it is a little bit difficult for translation.

Once again I express my gratitude to you. I want to express hope that this meeting will be very important for realization of all our desires.

Thank you.