Opening and closing speech of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev in the ceremony of signing of agreements on project of Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan Main Export Pipeline - October 17, 2000

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Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Tomorrow, on October 18, is the 9th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitutional Act on the state independence of Azerbaijan. After the adoption of the Constitutional act, Azerbaijan has gained its independence and has been existing as the independent state for 9 years. I congratulate You, all our people and citizens heartily on the occasion of this holiday - the Independence Day of Azerbaijan. I wish the Azerbaijani people peace, prosperity, welfare and everlasting state independence.

Today we have assembled here on the occasion of the historical event. As it is known, in September, 1994 the first contract was signed with many large oil companies of the world on joint exploitation of rich oil deposits in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. Since then, we are engaged in the realization of this contract. Thus, new oil strategy of Azerbaijan has begun. The signing of "The Contract of the century" in September, 1994, just grows out of freedom and state independence of the Azerbaijani people.

Today with a feeling of boundless pride we can declare, that the concluded oil contract is consistently carried out and yields its results.

The first contract has opened huge oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea to the world. Until now, 20 oil contracts were signed in Azerbaijan.

In "The Contract of the century " it was considered joint cooperation of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan with 11 foreign oil companies on joint exploitation of "Azeri", "Chirag" deposits and a deep-water part of "Guneshli" deposit in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. This cooperation is successively carried out, and oil was extracted in the "Chirag" deposit in 1997. The oil extracted from this deposit is exported to the world market. Thus, we see the practical result of the contract signed by us.

It is natural, that during the implementation of such a contract, an extraction of a plenty of oil was considered, and export of this oil to the world markets should have been taken into account in the contract. Therefore, construction of various oil pipelines, including Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan main export pipeline, was intended for exportation of the extracted oil to the world markets after the first contract.

Since 1994, together with foreign oil companies we have carried out major activities on creation of the main export oil pipeline - the pipeline of Baku - Ceyhan, then we have named it Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan.

As it is known, our activity in this direction has been confronted with great impediments and difficulties. Many people declared that construction of such export pipeline is unreal. Anyway, for the last years an oil pipeline of Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan was the focus of attention of all world community. However we - Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, the oil companies participating in a consortium, consistently dealt with it, struggled and got achieved the construction of the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan oil pipeline.

Top of all of our activity constitutes the agreement which was signed in November, 1999 during the Istanbul summit of OSCE. The said agreement was signed by the Presidents of the Republics of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and Kazakhstan. This agreement was also signed by Mister Bill Clinton, the President of the United States of America.

Thus, our long-term activity has come to an end with the adoption of such a political document. However, the period since then until now was not an easy matter, as there have been various opinions concerning the construction, cost and other commercial-technical issues of the oil pipeline of Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan. These various opinions occurred even among the companies included in a consortium. Therefore, it was too necessary to work hard in this respect.

This work has been done by Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and their corresponding bodies. The United States of America, their government also constantly supported this process. Arrangements on all technical, commercial issues have been achieved. As a result of it, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and the companies which are included in the Azerbaijan International Operational Company, have together prepared commercial-technical agreements on construction of the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan main export oil pipeline. Today we have assembled here to sign these agreements.

It presumed to sign the present agreements today in Azerbaijan, its capital - city Baku, tomorrow - in Georgia, in Tbilisi, and the day after tomorrow - in Turkey. Signing of agreements, naturally, will open a new stage in this area, practical construction of the Baku - Tbilisi-Ceyhan Main Export Oil pipeline will start.

 Closing Speech

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Dear friends!

Today all of us share the same opinion that we live historical day and historical minutes indeed.

When in September, 1994, in Azerbaijan the first oil contract was signed, we experienced boundless feeling of pride, happiness, saw the fine future of Azerbaijan in this direction.

As it is known, there were people who approached this matter with doubt, tried to make obstacles, and did not believe it. On the one hand, this contract has aroused jealousy and on the other hand, discontent both in Azerbaijan and outside the country. However, the Azerbaijani people, anyway overwhelming majority of it, appreciate this event as historical, as the most important and the most significant issue for the future of our independent country.

The subsequent period was hard for us. We underwent big pressure from the outside. In a media, in newspapers of some countries different opinions and majority of them, contrary opinions were published. Thus, they wanted to sow doubt both in our work in the international community and as well as in Azerbaijan.

Our enemies abroad and inside our country well understood, that this contract is one of the major events for strengthening of the state independence of Azerbaijan. It is not casual that the next day signing this contract, large provocation was accomplished against Azerbaijan. Very dangerous criminals, being punished in isolator of the Ministry of National Security of our republic, with the help of various forces ran from there, and certain conditions for infringement of stability appeared in Azerbaijan. A week later, the acts of terrorism against two statesmen and politicians were carried out and they were assassinated in Azerbaijan.

As a logical continuation of it, an attempt to the military coup was undertaken on October, 3-4, 1994 in Azerbaijan. We prevented this attempt due to the unity and force of our people, our nation. However, internal and external enemies of Azerbaijan continued to obstruct the independent policy and independent development of our country.

Six months after that incident a new attempt to the military coup was made in Azerbaijan. It was managed from abroad, and also was organized by criminal forces inside the country. Much to our regret, some political parties taking place today in opposition also took an active participation in this attempt to patch. We also prevented this attempt to patch. It was shed blood, given martyrs, however we destroyed the forces who acted against independence and the statehood of Azerbaijan.

The following years Azerbaijan again faced set of difficulties. You know all about these. All of them have one reason only. Both external and internal enemies saw that Azerbaijan exists as an independent state, independence of our country gets stronger day by day and new state oil strategy of our republic prognosticates of the great future. These people have taken this terrible way to stop all this, to weaken Azerbaijan and to seize our country by forces of separate criminal groups.

For the last years we have passed extremely heavy, difficult way, rescued Azerbaijani people from many dangers and protected independence, statehood of our country. For development of economy of Azerbaijan we consistently carried out the state oil strategy.

It was noted here that the construction of an oil pipeline of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan also constitues the basic part of our state oil strategy. All provocations and pressures upon us from the outside have failed. And the last years different propagations were carried out against the construction of Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan the main export oil pipeline, provocative actions were made. However our will, economic, foreign policy of independent, democratic Azerbaijan, its cooperation with the biggest states of the world, their oil companies - all these have allowed us to come up to this day.

Thus, Baku - Tbilisi-Ceyhan the main export pipeline has passed a thorny road. However, today all see that we have successfully passed this way. We - Turkish Republic, Georgia, and Azerbaijan have successfully passed this heavy and difficult way, as a result of constant support by the United States of America and today final agreements were already signed.

Nowadays, the new stage opens. The statements which sounded today, in particular, David Voodvord`s statements, prove that we start practical work, and this practical work will be carried successfully out, and in 2004 oil of the Caspian Sea will flow on Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan - the main export oil pipeline into the Mediterranean Sea. We trust in it. All of us together - Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the foreign oil companies, states represented by them will further carry out this program successfully with the support of the United States of America.

My advise to those who prevented our activity - both inside the country and abroad - to appreciate correctly a hard, difficult but very successful way passed by the independent Azerbaijan state for last years, for the last 7 years and to make proper conclusions for themselves.

We have done all this work for development of economy of Azerbaijan. We carry out all this work for improvement of well-being of Azerbaijani people. We carry out all this work in the name of bright future in Azerbaijan. We carry out this work for long-term cooperation with different states. Therefore, I am confident that our work will be implemented into practice successfully.

I congratulate the Azerbaijan International Operational Company, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijan state, the government, all Azerbaijani people on the occasion of signing of these documents.

We pass on the baton to Georgia, and then - to Turkey. I ask mister Voodvord to convey our greetings, my special greetings and my respect and compliments to my friend Edward Shevardnadze, the President of Georgia, and all Georgian people.

Send our greetings and the best regards to dear Ahmet Nejdet Sezer, the President of Turkish Republic, dear Bulent Ejevit, the Prime Minister of Turkish Republic, to brotherly Turkish people.

Once again I congratulate all of you and I wish you every success on this way.

Brief essays

Oil and gas pipelines

General historical background