The statement of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at ceremony of signing the agreement between Azerbaijan and Georgia on transportation of natural gas to be extracted from the deposit "Shahdeniz" via Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum route. September 29, 2001

Dear President Mister Edward Shevardnadze!

Dear guests!

Ladies and gentlemen!

We have signed the documents to sum up the official visit of the President of Georgia His Excellency Mr. Edward Shevardnadze to Azerbaijan. Today we have held a fruitful meeting. The meeting was conducted confidentially between the Presidents of Georgia and Azerbaijan. Meetings and negotiations have been conducted between delegations of Georgia and Azerbaijan. And all of them have passed in a spirit of friendship, mutual understanding and in an atmosphere of a brotherhood. These documents are of great value.

The document on the Southern-Caucasian gas pipeline, i.e. on transportation of the Azerbaijan gas extracted from deposit "Shahdeniz" to Turkey through Georgia on the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, is an important component of oil strategy, the oil doctrine carried out by Azerbaijan together with Georgia and Turkey since 1994. Naturally, the basis of this oil strategy of Azerbaijan was "the Contract of the Century", signed in September, 1994 between the Azerbaijan Oil Company and the largest oil companies of the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Norway, Russia and other countries.

After signing the first contract, certainly, our duty was to realize it. But, together with realizing it, we, certainly, had to think of export of oil on the world markets which would be extracted by joint efforts of the foreign companies and the Azerbaijan State Oil Company. And consequently, we were still considering various variants of export of oil at that time. Today after some time, I think we were on the right way. And today Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline, the so-called northern route of transportation of oil, Baku-Supsa oil pipeline - the western oil pipeline have already turned into reality. And, certainly, it was necessary to carry out the big work to realize the major objective - the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project.

All these are already left behind. We have executed these duties and also successfully. In Azerbaijan the first oil began to be extracted by joint efforts of the Azerbaijan International Operational Company and the Azerbaijan State Oil Company in 1997, in November we marked it as a great event, by the by, again together with our friends, including our friend President Edward Shevardnadze who took part in that ceremony. We have constructed the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline. In April, 1999 we solemnly marked the opening of this oil pipeline. And up to now, it has been already extracted about 16 million tons of oil from the deposit of "Chirag" in the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea. More than 14 million tons of this oil have been exported through the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline.

For many years we have dealt with the issue of realization of the program of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline and managed to do it. We signed Ankara declaration in 1998, and then the final agreement in 1999 in Istanbul. Afterwards it was required to achieve the agreement between the countries - Azerbaijan - Turkey and Azerbaijan-Georgia. This objective was achieved as well. Practical realization of construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline is already being carried out.

But we go further on. We have discovered the largest gas deposit in "Shahdeniz" field of the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea. According to the preliminary estimation data, its reserves make 1 billion cubic meter of gas. And, naturally, there stood a problem in export of gas. But our former line proceeds. We have decided to export gas to Turkey via Georgia. We worked on it for sufficient time and today accomplished this work. That is, we have conducted negotiations on the terms of a gas pipeline. On March 12 in Ankara the agreement was signed between the Turkish government and Azerbaijan on the delivery of gas to Turkey via Georgia.

After that, a work between Georgia and Azerbaijan was proceeded. I should tell that the work was very difficult. But to my viewpoint, representatives of Georgia and Azerbaijan persistently and adequately were engaged in the preparation of this agreement. The agreement was prepared, and today we signed it.

I can safely say that this event is of historical value. It attaches great importance to our countries. It has great importance for Southern Caucasus and European region. It has great importance from the viewpoint of economic integration of our countries with the western countries as well as.

There is no necessity now, at the press conference, especially to go into details. But, anyway, it is possible to tell that oil strategy of Azerbaijan is successfully being realized, in spite of the fact that we have had a great many difficulties and the obstacles on this way, three large agreements have been signed among Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan and already the part of our program is being carried out.

There is no doubt that both Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline will be successfully constructed in a determined time, and the oil and gas from the Caspian Sea, from Azerbaijan will be delivered to Turkey through Georgia, and from there to other countries. It is natural that Georgia has also the right to make use of these most valuable resources.

I congratulate you, Edward Amvrosievich, our visitors and all citizens of Azerbaijan on the occasion of this new important historic step and the successes achieved by us. I am also sure that we shall further move confidently and achieve new successes. These programs have great economic value for our countries. They at the same time have extremely important political value. It is important because there is a close integration between Southern Caucasus, Europe and the West, and secondly, these oil-and gas pipelines are an essential guarantee of security, stability and the peace in our region.

We attach extremely great importance to all this and we trust that economic and political results of all that we do, will strengthen economy of our countries, will provide stability, security, the peace in our region and will bring us more and more closer to the European community, advanced, democratic world community.

I am glad that the visit of the President of Georgia my friend Edward Shevardnadze this time as well as many his previous ones is marked by such important historical events. I think each time we make new grounds for strengthening a building of development of friendly relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Once again I congratulate you and I wish every success follows the agreement signed today.

Brief essays


General historical background