From the talk of Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, with the delegation ‎headed by Ambassador William Taylor, coordinator of US State Department on the assistance ‎to the newly independent states - May 11, 2000‎

Distinguished Mr. Taylor!

Distinguished Mr. Ambassador!

Distinguished guests!

I sincerely welcome and congratulate you on the organization of the first meeting of the bilateral interstate working group established for the development of economical relations between the USA and Azerbaijan. We support the rapid development of the relations between our countries in all the spheres and realize the possible measures for it. The development of the economic relations is of particular significance for us.

Mr. Taylor, in our meetings we discussed it; Mr. Ambassador Escudero knows it very well. Therefore, the institutionalization of the issues, establishment of a bilateral inter-state working group, your practical activity is accepted by us with great pleasure.

I think that your first meeting today was successful. Thus, I’d like to learn your thoughts. Please.

William Taylor: Mr. President, I thank you for welcoming us in Baku. We are very pleased to visit Azerbaijan.

I deliver you the greetings from a friend of yours in Washington. Our vise-president congratulates you on you birthday and has sent a special letter to you on it. I’ve brought it with me.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much.

(Ambassador William Taylor presents the letter of the US vise-president of the Albert Gore to Heydar Aliyev)

Mr. President, he wishes you the best on your birthday as well as wishes our working group successes.

You mentioned fairly that our meeting with your Finance Minister today was very successful.

Mr. President, today in our meeting with you, there is a big delegation and I want to introduce it to you. Here is Mr. Jerry Oberndorfer from my office. Mrs. Caitlin Trail is one of the responsible persons in the relations with this region, and she has some experience in the work done here.

Heydar Aliyev: There are many ladies here. But I know her. Please.

William Tailor: Mr. Jack Brayer is a specialist representing our Trade Department. Mr. .President, you know well Jan Kalitsky, advisor of the Trade Department. He has been here for several times.

Mr. Brayer works with Mr. Yan Kalitsky. Mr. Theodor Kyem is my advisor and one of the participants of the organization of our working group.

Heydar Aliyev: I don’t know him. 


William Taylor: Mr. President, Mr. Grandmason is the most prominent person in our delegation. He is the head of the US Trade and Development Agency. He is responsible for the whole world in his position.

Heydar Aliyev: Great personality.


William Taylor: Mr. George Ingham is Deputy Director of the US Aid and International Development Agency. He is responsible for the US aid to this region. Mr. William McKinney is also here. You also mentioned that you know Mrs. Shelton.

Heydar Aliyev: It is Mrs. Elisabeth Shelton, not Elisabeth Taylor. You didn’t mention the other lady.

William Taylor: Mrs. Julia Panaro is the representative of the “Caspian” center of Eksimbank in Turkey.

Heydar Aliyev: She is a prominent person and a fascinating lady.

William Taylor: All the American ladies are fascinating.

Heydar Aliyev: Naturally. But the Azerbaijani women are also beautiful. Look there, how many beautiful women there are.

William Taylor: We are always pleased to visit Baku.

Heydar Aliyev: Because of the women.

William Taylor: Mr. President, since this morning we have had a nice meeting with your Finance Minister. The first session took place. Thus, I would like to inform you briefly about our first meeting.

Heydar Aliyev: Please.

William Taylor: Hopefully, our first meeting will be the beginning of the meetings of the American-Azerbaijani inter-state joint group. This meeting was very important for the establishment of the contacts between the state officials. We also discussed planning of the next meetings on economic relations between our countries.

Mr. Alekperov broadly informed us on the current economic situation of Azerbaijan and acquianted us with the plan of measures to be realized by the government for improving the investment conditions in Azebaijan. We think that these plans are siginificant for the support of the projects by the US Trade and Development Agency and Eksimbank. During the meeting and discussions, the same opinion was totally reached on the issues which is the basis of our economy and which you accept as the fundamental principle for your economy. These principles are market principles and guarantee the limitation of activities of the government for helping establishment of the market economy and development of the private sector.

We also reached an agreement on the structural changes and determination of the time framework for the realization of reforms. As for the Law on privatization, which is on the last stage of evaluation by the government and in the primary discussions in the parliament, we reached concrete developments and exhanged views on many issues.

While the meeting of our working group was lasting, we started the dicussion of the last variant of the draft Law on privatization. By saying it, I want to show that we are working more productively.

We exchanged views on the prospectives of our cooperation in the non-oil sector. In his letter to you, Mr. Gore mentioned the existing good cooperation between in our countries in the oil sector. Therefore, in our current meetings we paid more attention to our cooperation in the non-oil sector and spoke about the significance of the development of this sphere for the long-term development and stability of Azerbaijan.

Finally, in our discussions we analyzed the assisstance programmes by the USA to Azerbaijan. Despite some limitations in the realization of these programmes, we spoke about the projects realized by the US Aid and International Development Agency, as well as, by the US Trade and Development Agency presided by Mr. Grandmason. Your Finance Mininster introduced us the list of fields and sectors, projects on which it is possible to cooperate in future. We`ll try to take them into account in our further cooperation, having looked through these projects.

Mr. President, I want to inform you about the concrete outcome of our activity. Mrs. Trail established a lot of contacts, exchanged opinions on the realization of the standardization and formation of the definite standards in the whole region, having collabarated with your officials. We`ll develop this theme.

We also discussed the possible cooperation between our countries in the education of the Azerbaijani students in the USA which is one of the points of the aid to Azerbaijan. We negotiated about the ways of the maintenance of the peace by the world community, if that peace is reached and the opportunities of the financial support to maintain a sustainable peace.

As I noted at the beginning of my speech, considering these meetings and discussions as a start, we agreed on the organization of the next meeting in Washington, and we`ll have addiontal consultations on it. I hope that we`ll welcome your Finance Minister in Washington.

Mr. President, we accept the up-to-date activity of the interstate working group as successful. We hope that this cooperation will increase in future.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you firstly for the letter by Mr. Albert Gore on the occasion my birthday. I ask you to deliver my thanks to him. In this letter, Mr. Gore has some thoughts on the activity of the bilateral working group on the USA-Azerbaijani economic cooperation. I`ll look through it. As I noted in our meeting today and the previous meetings, the establishment of such a working group is a step forward.

Today you informed me well about the work done. Thank you for that. I don`t know if our Finance Minister has something to add. Perhaps his information is the same with yours. If so, then there is a mutual understanding and a productive cooperation. You have established a good basis for future.

Our working group covers many fields of economy. I know the prorgamme of your meetings today. You gave broad and intersting information about it. I wish it to develop rapidly. I am very satisfied with the successful cooperation between our country and the USA companies operating in our oil sector. We have achieved successful results and created good prospectives for the future. All the commercial issues on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline have been solved. Consequently, we signed the contract on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan on May 9 in Istanbul.

The Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov went there. At first we thought that the three presidents – Suleyman Demirel, Eduard Shevardnadze and Heydar Aliyev would participate in the ceremony of signature. But later we spoke to each other and asked Suleyman Demirel to represent Azerbaijan and Georgia, along with Turkey as the head of state. After the documents were signed there, President Suleyman Demirel told me he had done what we asked, having phoned me. This issue has been finished. Now we and the companies must start the constructions. I suppose that everything will be successful. Shortly, everything in the oil sector is going on well.

There is a great progress in the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan, too. For example, last year 40 per cent of the whole investment was made to the oil sector, and 40 per cent to the non-oil sector. It means that the investment made to our non-oil sector has increased so much that it has overtaken the oil sector. Naturally, there are more opportunities in this sector; thus, what we have done is not enough. I think that our cooperation with the USA up to now has not been enough. Section 907 always inhibits you. We invited the American businessmen, investors to operate in different spheres in Azerbaijan. Howeer, Section 907 always limits your work.

I am satisfied that you initiated the establishment of the working group despite the Section 907. You created your programme on the economic cooperation with Azerbaijan via this working group, despite the prohibitions of Section 907.

You told that your first meeting today was successful. I hope that the meeting to be held in Washington in autumn will be productive, too. But these meetings are not a goal, but a tool. We must have practical results. For it, we have big opportunities.

You expressed your thoughts on all the spheres. I don`t want to talk about them. I just want to say that I agree with all your opinions. Our Finance Mininster which is the Azerbaijani co-chair of the working group didn`t add anything to your information either.

I want to note one issue. We want to establish the market economy in Azerbaijan totally and rapidly. As you expressed, we want to limit the activity of the government in this field. It is a demand of the market economy. We understand well that how broadly the private sector will develop, it will develop also the entire economy; then the work for the government will be reduced in this field. We all want it. At least, I want it must.

You mentioned that you looked through the draft Law on privatization. This law will be soon adopted. The programme on privatization is also being elaborated. As soon as it is adopted, I`ll sign the decress on this programme. The new large-scale stage of privatization in Azerbaijan will start.

Psychogocial readiness in the society was also necessary. The people had to get used to it. We feel that the people are getting used to it. Naturally, the privatization is a hard process. Your economy was established on the private sector. However, the American government had to realize new measures for the privatization which was on decline till the 1930s. But our economy was established on the state sector. Thus, it is not so easy to lead privatization.

Telling it, I want to explain that if we have failed to do it in some fields, it has some objective reasons. But we have a strong strategy. Naturally, it will help the development of the private sector. And the cooperation between our countries will improve

As I know, here you lead the measures on granting small credits to the private sector. It is good. Because in Azerbaijan it is impossible to establish a large-scale private sector. Therefore, we must create normal conditions for each businessman. We are creating; the credits, which they will be given will also be of great importance.

I am glad that the economic cooperation between the USA and Azerbaijan is realized within the frames of one organization. Some months ago we met the representatives of the American-Azerbaijan Trade Chamber; they have also started their activity. They all show progress which I appreciate. Thus, I wish you good luck in your further work. As President of Azerbaijan, I`ll personally increase my attention to this issue and do my best for it.

I also want to remind you something. When you visit Azerbaijan first time, you raised the issue of the Caucasian forum and the Caucasian economic cooperation. Then I didn`t accept them. Because they were not real. But now your programme is real. In future everything will be founded on reality. Thank you.

The newspaper “Azerbaycan”, May 12, 2000