Statement of Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the joint press-conference held after signing of the agreement on commercial-economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation between the Republics of Azerbaijan and Tatarstan - Presidential palace, November 21, 1996

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know, esteemed Mintimer Shaymiyev, the President of the Republic of Tatarstan and accompanying him persons arrived in Azerbaijan yesterday evening with an official visit on my invitation. I am grateful to the President Mintimer Shaymiyev for accepting my invitation and visiting Azerbaijan. Since yesterday, we have had opportunity to hold the exchange of opinion, discuss many problems related to the relationships between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Russian Federation, including Azerbaijan and Tatarstan.

We attach a great importance to the friendly relationships between Azerbaijan and Russia, we are trying and will exert every effort in the future for the development, deepening and widening of these relationships in all spheres. Russia is a great country and it is constituted of many subjects of the federation. The principle of development of the federation provided sufficiently the independence and allocation of great power to these subjects. Tatarstan occupies an important place amongst these subjects and as a republic, it enjoys great authorities and rights within Russia. These rights provide free and independent development of the economy of Tatarstan, settlement of social and other problems related to culture, science and education.

Azerbaijan has ties with Tatarstan for many centuries. Our peoples have common historical roots, our traditions and moral values are very similar, we believe the same religion. All this is a ground for close relationships, cooperation, friendship and mutual understanding between Azerbaijani and Tatar peoples both in the past and now.

Economic relationships between Azerbaijan and Tatarstan have always been very tight. The geographical location of our republics that have been maintaining contacts in the past via navigation at Volga river and Caspian Sea provided the establishment of commercial relationships between Azerbaijan and Tatarstan. Many representatives on trade relationships between our countries - figures of culture, science and education have been friends and developed friendship and cooperation between our peoples.

When we were within Soviet Union, we used to cooperate in oil and gas sphere, as well as in the spheres of petroleum refining, petroleum chemistry and engineering industry. Formerly, many goods and equipment were exported from Azerbaijan to Tatarstan and vice-versa. Some Tatars by origin are native residents of Azerbaijan and they contributed largely to the development of our science and culture. Moreover, many Azerbaijanis consider Tatarstan their motherland, many generations have been living and continue to live there, as they are part of Tatar people. When the development of oil fields in Tatarstan commenced after the World War II, the oilmen of Azerbaijan contributed a lot to the development and operation of these oil fields. Many of them stayed in Tatarstan since then and live there so far. Tatarstan was called the "Second Baku" at that time.

All this was always bringing us together and our delegations used to make mutual visits. I remember how successfully the days of Azerbaijani culture were held in Tatarstan in 1969. The meetings of the men of science and culture of Tatarstan in Azerbaijan were also successful. It is to say that despite the social, political and state structure, our peoples preserved close friendly relationships. These relationships exist so far. Moreover, there is an opportunity to strengthen and develop these relationships. Taking it into consideration, I and President Shaymiyev consider it necessary to establish more close relationships between our republics for cooperation in many spheres. The agreement signed between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Tatarstan serves this goal too.

I think that the visit of Mister Shaymiyev, the President of Tatarstan to Azerbaijan is an important event in the history of Russian and Azerbaijan relationships, in the history of relationships between Tatar and Azerbaijani peoples. I am confident that the work carried out today and also in the future will strengthen both the friendship and cooperation between both Russia and Azerbaijan and Tatarstan and Azerbaijan and will serve for the prosperity of our peoples.

During the stay of the delegation of Tatarstan here the personal meetings of representatives and heads of different economic bodies of Tatarstan with our ministers, Cabinet of Ministers and heads of production units are envisaged. I think we are able to create a good ground for the development of our economic relationships henceforth. We want it, I personally consider that the perspectives of the cooperation between Tatarstan and Azerbaijan are very favorable and gratifying. On our behalf, we will exert every effort for the achievement of these goals. Thank you for your attention.

Question: The first question is addressed to Mintimer Shaymiyev. What is the strategy of the leadership of Tatarstan for the development of its energy resources? Do you rely on your own resources or expect to engage foreign investment? The second question is addressed to the President of Azerbaijan. Did you discuss the concrete issues on bilateral cooperation in the field of oil development during negotiations with the President of Tatarstan? If you did, is it possible to expect the appearance of the first joint projects? Was any concrete order in this connection given to the presidents of both oil companies?

Mintimer Shaymiyev: You know that our oil fields, like yours were overdeveloped. Actually, we are extracting oil feeding the oil strata with water. Of course, there is a need in new technologies. We have established six new joint enterprises with foreign companies specialized on different technologies. They work well, restore unproductive oil wells and deal with issues of gas use and settle some technical problems. Is should be noted that "Tatneft" Joint-Stock Company has certain authority and it passed the audit conducted by world expert companies. The President of "Tatneft" Mr.Galiyev is going to leave for the United States from Baku in order to attend the first auction of the sale of shares of this company to be held at the American Stock Exchange. Actually, the price of our shares is very good. In my opinion, we will get the first results by the end of the next week. For development of the local oil fields, the company receives loans from the bank. However, we have additional means. Some 14-15 thousand people left for Siberia to work there by turn, the production volume decreased there and there are vacancies. However, this is a subject of separate conversation. I think that this issue will be discussed here today. As a matter of principle, we could participate at the development of your oil fields and not only as contractors.

Heydar Aliyev: I gave orders to the President of Azerbaijan State Oil Company Natig Aliyev and the First Vice-Prime Minister Rasizade to discuss the issues related to oil development in order to reveal the existing possibilities of joint cooperation. At the same time, our appropriate persons will hold negotiations today and the issues related to cooperation in the field of petroleum engineering, oil chemistry and other fields consuming oil and gas will be discussed.

Question: Mister Shaymiyev, our President, esteemed Heydar Aliyev noted today at the meeting that we attached a special importance to the peaceful settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Having in view your life experience and the experience in political sphere, as well as your respect towards Russia, I would like to know what Tatarstan as a subject of the Russian Federation can do for the settlement of this problem?

Mintimer Shaymiyev: In my opinion, Tatarstan did a lot. We managed to sign the first agreement with state bodies of Russia, thus, we could initiate new federal relationships in new Russia. Afterwards, it started its way of development as a unitary state. However, the most valuable is that the conflict situation was settled without violation of the territorial integrity of Russian Federation. Therefore, one can achieve a lot in the process of the democratic state building without violation of the territorial integrity of another state. The example of Tatarstan known in the world as "Tatarstan Model" can be used in the state building process of other regions and republics.

Question: Esteemed President Heydar Aliyev has repeatedly declared that the keys for the settlement of Garabagh problem are in Moscow. Esteemed presidents, what do you think, will these keys be found soon and a fair peace be established on the territory of Azerbaijan?

Heydar Aliyev: Which president do you address to?

Journalist: Both to you and Mister Shaymiyev.

Heydar Aliyev: In that case Mister Shaymiyev should answer. I spoke a lot about it.

Mintimer Shaymiyev: It wouldn`t be serious to indicate a fixed term on my behalf. However, there is no doubt that more rapid settlement of the problem must be aspired, because people are suffering due to its retardation. The interests of people should be in the first place while realizing any goal. However, the dependence and mutual relationships have some importance in the settlement of any problem. At the same time, as Heydar Aliyev mentioned today, due to efforts exerted for establishment of favorable relationships with Russia, the ways of the settlement of this issue will be found. It is sure to be found.

Question: Mister Aliyev and Mister Shaymiyev, do you have concrete plans or proposals for the use of Caspian-Volga transport thruway? If you do, how are you going to implement this plan, having in view the transport restrictions imposed by Russia? Mister Shaymiyev, taking into consideration that you arrived to Baku from Iran, can we expect that it will be the beginning of trilateral relationships?

Heydar Aliyev: The transport connection via Volga and Caspian Sea has been very active between Azerbaijan and Tatarstan formerly. While discussing the issues on cooperation with Mister Shaymiyev during our first meeting in Davos, I touched upon this issue. We returned to this issue during our discussions held today. I think that we must undertake all measures for the restoration of transport connection Volga-Caspian between Azerbaijan and Tatarstan. This is very important for Tatarstan for maintaining relationships with all Caspian countries. As you know, in connection with events underway in Chechnya, the state bodies of Russia cut off our transport connections on the border with Dagestan, they blocked our way to the ports of Astrakhan and Mahach-Gala too. We held negotiations and we managed to open the ways to these ports. However, yet we have no agreement on the navigation on Volga. I have had several talks with Chair of Russian government Viktor Chernomyrdin on this matter. I think that we will achieve the provision of the cooperation in this field in any case. I hope that both Tatarstan and especially its President Mister Shaymiyev will exert any effort for this. Because the economic interest of Tatarstan in arrangement and active use of transport ways with the littoral Caspian states is obvious. Therefore, we will work together in this line.

Mintimer Shaymiyev: I completely agree with what Heydar Aliyev said. I can only add that we started to promote these intentions, we have already started the construction of river-sea type oil tankers in our republic. These vessels will be able to pass through locks on the way and put to sea via Volga. If we did not need it, we wouldn`t initiate such expensive projects.

Yesterday, after my arrival to Baku, I extended best regards of Iranian President and Speaker of the Parliament to Heydar Aliyev and their congratulations to Azerbaijani people. I did it with a great pleasure. While discussing the economic issues with ministries of commerce, economy and finance, they voiced the necessity in trilateral cooperation. They put forward proposals on settlement of such difficult problems related to operations on exchange of goods, reciprocal payments and barter of goods not only with Tatarstan but also with other regions of Russia. We have accepted these proposals and the members of our government began to think over how to implement these proposals. I think that there is something to work upon.

Heydar Aliyev: Yesterday President Shaymiyev told me about this proposal of the Iranian party. I consider it worth of interest. We gave orders to our appropriate bodies to think on its practical realization. I think that this proposal can yield good results.

Thank you for your attention.

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