Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the official reception devoted to the fifth anniversary of "the Contract of the century" - "Gulustan" Palace, September 20, 1999

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Dear guests, friends!

Once again I welcome all of you in this majestic palace "Gulustan" and I wish you good mood in this holiday.

Today in the solemn ceremony devoted to the fifth anniversary of "the Contract of the century", it was spoken in detail about political, economic, social and moral value of this contract. But today we all are pleased not for the contract but for its successful fulfillment during five years, the positive results and the great achievement of our teamwork.

Today in my speech, I noted that the petroleum industry of Azerbaijan has 150-years history, and I can tell that until gaining of independence of our country, the Azerbaijan people has never been the owner of these riches. Azerbaijan, Baku attracted the oil companies of the world and the businessmen since second half of XIX century, from the beginning of XX century and a number of the foreign companies successfully operated and provided oil production. Entrepreneurs and businessmen of Azerbaijan also have joined this process and they have provided oil extraction and its export to the world markets together with the foreign oil companies. Naturally, all this has brought to Azerbaijan, city of Baku the great benefits and served for the development of Baku. Today we can recollect the Nobel brothers, Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, one of great businessmen and philanthropists of Azerbaijan and people who those years used natural riches of Azerbaijan and got profit and at the same time developed the city of Baku.

At the end of XIX and the beginning of XX centuries, the city of Baku intensively developed. Here, according to requirements of that period the industrial enterprises were established, apartment houses, various office buildings, shopping centers have been constructed and all this had changed Baku into a beautiful city of the European style. The majority of the buildings constructed at that time are really fine monuments of architecture.

Today we recollect the foreign companies engaged in our country in extraction of the Azerbaijan oil and also our businessmen of that period with a feeling of gratitude.

You know that subsequently, in 1918 the first Azerbaijan Democratic Republic as the independent state aspired to use riches for people, however it had existed not so long and could not attain it. And since 1920 Azerbaijan has been in structure of Soviet Union. Today it is possible to say safely that the past 70 years after 1920, the petroleum industry in Azerbaijan intensively developed and the reason was that at that time oil was necessary for the Soviet state, the Soviet authority. A lot of oil was required to develop the industry of Soviet Union, to develop its economy. If we take into account that 80 percent, perhaps 90 percent of the oil extracted those years in the territory of the Soviet Union were extracted in Baku, it is possible to understand how the Baku oil was necessary for the Soviet government and the Soviet state.

Azerbaijan people the oilmen and scientists of our country have shown the great merits for development of petroleum industry and have reached considerable successes. Once again I want to note that in a victory over the german fascism during the Second World War the Azerbaijan oil played an indispensable role. Azerbaijan also has the big merits in development of a petroleum industry in other regions of Soviet Union. We can tell with feeling of pride that the Azerbaijan oilmen, scientists took part in exploring such oil deposits as "the Second Baku", "the Third Baku", "the Fourth Baku” in Russia, and many of them since then till today live in those regions - in Siberia, Tumen and today they continue to be engaged in the oil extraction.

In exploration of oil deposits in the Caspian Sea and exploitation of these deposits by industrial way Azerbaijan took the first place in the world. It has been extracted up to 1,500 million tons of oil from bowels of the earth and the sea depths since an oil production by industrial way until present day in Azerbaijan. Approximately 450-500 million tons from out of it have been extracted from the depths of the Caspian Sea. However, during all these times the Azerbaijan people was not the owner of the rich natural resources, Azerbaijan was not an independent state and the oil extracted in our country, certainly, was used for providing of all needs of the Soviet Union.

In the past I worked in Azerbaijan for long years and since 1969 I was the head of Azerbaijan. I know and remember these well. We were demanded to increase oil and gas production and we did it. But all incomes of it directed to the common budget of the Soviet Union. That is to say, despite of the big profits which was brought from the petroleum industry of Azerbaijan, our country did not get the most part of this profit. Reminding you about the pages of history, I want to say that only after finding the state independence, Azerbaijan became the owner of its destiny, riches and had an opportunity freely to use the gas and oil resources being the biggest property of our country.

We are thankful to the past. But we are also happy that, at last, at the end of XX century Azerbaijan gained national freedom, the state independence and determines itself how and in what way to use the natural resources.

"The Contract of the Century" is just the historical event which has occurred after Azerbaijan gained the state independence. Only after we became the independent state, we got the opportunity to conduct negotiations with various countries of the world and the oil companies independently, not depending on anybody, and the most remarkable, largest work having the most important historical value done by us in this field is the preparation and signing of "the Contract of the Century". Today in this solemn ceremony it was already spoken about heavy conditions we were engaged in preparation of this contract and what difficulties created by internal and external forces we met. However, we have shown will and determination, run the risk and attained the signing of "the Contract of the Century".

"The Contract of the Century" has been signed in this majestic palace "Gulustan". That day became great joy and a holiday for us. At the same time, we knew well that we had assumed the big responsibility and still there had been very big tests before us. Today I say with a feeling of pride that we have passed through the five year long tests with honour, prevented all difficulties, repulsed all pressures, and reached realization of "the Contract of the Century" for short term. Naturally, our achievements are the result of our teamwork with the large oil companies.

Today it is possible to tell safely that the International Operational Company founded after signing of the contract, and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, under a leadership and constant support of the Azerbaijan state and the government has done very big work and it has led us the present result.

Celebrating the fifth anniversary of "the Contract of the century", we declare that we have endured the big tests. We have justified the confidence of our partners, the countries and the states which possess large oil companies. As a free and independent state, we have manifested to the world that Azerbaijan people, oilmen, scientists of our country are capable to reach still the great successes. It is natural that all this causes all of us, personally me to have a tremendous feeling of pride.

Today, while marking the fifth anniversary of "the Contract of the century", we recollect with gratitude all the states, organizations, companies which have shown merits in signing of this contract and have supported us. Today we express our gratitude to the Azerbaijan International Operational Company, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and to experts, scientists, engineers, technicians and workers engaged in implementation of the contract and all who worked in this sphere.

As I noted, in signing and implementation of the contract we have met a number of obstacles and difficulties. However, the companies which have signed the contract, the states to which they belong and we confidently moved on. Therefore, I express my gratitude to the states and governments possessing the companies which have signed the contract.

During preparation of the contract and, in particular, during its realization, including the decision-making on creation of an oil pipeline of Baku - Supsa, I especially note a role of the government of the United States of America, in particular, the President mister Bill Clinton.

Now, celebrating the fine results of the contract, and demonstrating to the world the signing of 18 contracts after "the Contract of the Century", we have proved that at the modern level Azerbaijan can and will do much work in the future on the basis of principles of market economy making use of foreign investments.

Today the president of the Azerbaijan International Operational Company mister Woodward spoke about ensuring of political stability in Azerbaijan for realization of the contract within six years and the work done by us and he highly appreciated all this in his speech. The creation of appropriate conditions for using of foreign investments in Azerbaijan is also especially marked in the letters of congratulations received by us from heads of states and governments, companies, separate organizations and many oil companies. In fact, if we had not ensured the political stability in our country, did not remove the destruction forces dividing Azerbaijan and liquidate them nor created necessary conditions for a normal life of citizens in our republic, the foreign companies would not arrive here and if they did arrive, would go back in a short time.

We have proved that Azerbaijan is the reliable partner. We have proved that all conditions have been created in Azerbaijan for inflow and using of foreign investments. We have proved that all businessmen, companies and citizens coming to Azerbaijan, can live and work freely and easily here. I hope that contracts which were signed by us after "the Contract of the Century" will bring the finest results. The resources of gas explored on the deposit of "Shahdeniz" and the fine results achieved by us evidently testify to it. As it is known, a week before the signing of the document, internal forces tried to prevent the preparation of the contract connected with the deposit of "Shahdeniz". However, we have signed this contract and proved those people who did not trust it or who purposely acted against it, that we worked in the name of national interests of Azerbaijan people and consequently we were capable to achieve such successes.

In the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea there are still many oil and gas deposits. I do not doubt that in forthcoming years some new contracts will be signed. We have already received many offers in this connection.

I declare and assure everybody that henceforth there will be created still the greater opportunities and better conditions for signing and realization of the new and new contracts which will be equitable to national interests of Azerbaijan. We are in the beginning of the big work. Today, the work carried out by us and a basis laid by "the Contract of the Century" creates fine opportunities for the development and a safe life of Azerbaijan people, the further strengthening of the sovereignty of the independent Azerbaijan state in XXI century, and I believe that XXI century will become the happiest period for the independent Azerbaijan state.

Once again I express my gratitude to everyone who cooperated with us within the last five years.

I thank and express my gratitude to the state delegations which have arrived in Azerbaijan to mark this holiday together with us. I wish you every success in your future activities.

In honor of "the Contract of the Century"!

In honor of the future achievements of "the Contract of the Century"!

In honor of more fruitful teamwork in the future!

In honor of the Azerbaijan oilmen!

In honor of experts of the foreign countries working shoulder to shoulder with the Azerbaijan oilmen in our country!

I raise the glass, dear guests, in your honor! Thank you!