Speech of Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the meeting with the leadership, full and corresponding members, directors of the institutes and leading scientists of Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences - Presidential Palace, 31 January 1997

Dear scientists, ladies and gentlemen!

I cordially greet all of you and I would like to say that I am very pleased with meeting with you today.

The heroic deeds of Javanshir and Babek, prominent Azerbaijani military leaders, served to establish a patriotic tradition as well as national symbols centred around a concept of national unity. Patriotism and national consciousness were finally proclaimed as the highest spiritual values of the people, thanks to the lives and efforts of Jakhan Pekhlevan, Gyzyl Arslan, Uzun Gasan, shah Ismail Khatai and other statesmen of the past.

As centuries passed, the Treaties of Gulustan (1813) and Turkmenchay (1828) divided Azerbaijan and its people into two parts. However, today all Azeris who reside throughout the world regard the independent Azerbaijani Republic as their motherland and a citadel of national sovereignty, spirit and culture, as a result of the national awareness movement which was widely spread during the 20th century.

The progress of the Azerbaijani people as an independent nation in the 20th century can be traced back to the recent and remote past, particularly to national ideas which developed during the 19th century. These ideas, largely associated with the enlightenment movement, were elaborated in the works by Abbagasu Aga Bakikhanov, Mirza Kazembek, and other influential authors. The democratic press, a new people`s education system and secular theatre which emerged during that time did much to precipitate the formation of national awareness.

In 1872 after the leasing system was abolished by the tsarist government, the Azerbaijani oil industry was given a strong impetus. Baku began to attract foreign investment, and this capital flow grew steadily. In 1883, the Transcaucasian Railroad was commissioned, and a commodity exchange with Russia and Europe improved considerably. Due to both domestic and foreign investments, Baku was rapidly evolving into a new financial centre. Another milestone was the construction in 1896-1906 of the Baku-Batum oil pipeline which enhanced the delivery of oil by sea and railway to Russia and international markets. The integration of Baku into the world trade community was accelerated by the development of two important transport directions: to the North Caucasus and Russia, and to Tiflis (present-day Tbilisi) and the Black Sea coast. It was Baku oil which allowed Russia to become the world leader in terms of oil output. In a global context the period embracing the late 19th and early 20th century was marked by an emergence of new economic relationships in the world. This overall trend deeply affected all aspects of life in Azerbaijan. Rapid socio-economic development, a primary characteristic of that time made Baku the industrial heart of the Caucasus.

The economic boom implied a revival in education, science, art and literature. A new type of municipal and district schools were opening in Baku, Ganja, Naxcivan, Shusha, Sheki, Salyan and other cities. A cohort of prominent enlightened thinkers, including Jalil Mamedkulizade, Suleyman Sani Akhundov, Uzeir Bey Hajibeyov, Habib Bey Makhmudbekov, Rashid Bey Efendiyev and Firudin Bey Kocharly, graduated from the Gori Teacher`s Seminary. They strove to commission schools which represented a modern and progressive approach toward education and education system reform. Traditional teaching practices were abandoned and the new system introduced by Seyid Azim Shirvani in Shamakhi, Mir Mokhsun Navvab in Shusha, Mirza Ismail Gasir in Lankaran, and Mirza Kazim Askerzade in Irevan. Alongside traditional subjects history, Russian, geography and natural history were taught in these new schools. Since the 1880s, four-grade primary schools, known as "Russian-Tatar", became widely spread. The network of the new-type schools was becoming more and more extensive. A female gymnasium, founded in Baku in 1896 under the patronage of Haji Zeinalabdin Tahiyev, played an exceptional role in the history of women`s education in Azerbaijan.

One of the implications of the enlightenment was an increase in the number of Azeris who went abroad to receive higher education. As they returned home with degrees, they formed the core of the new Azerbaijani intelligentsia, who further promoted enlightenment and created the national press and theatre.

The need for a national press arose naturally as the city of Baku developed, its population grew and demand for information became palpable. Hasan Bek Zardabi, a prominent figure of the period, became the first to articulate this need and pursue it through practical efforts. On 22 July 1875, the first issue of the Ekinchi newspaper was printed, signalling the birth of the Azerbaijani press. Molla Nasreddin, a new magazine directed by Jalil Mammadquluzada, laid the foundation of the journalism school not only of Azerbaijan, but of the whole region. From the very beginning, the national Azerbaijani press entered a phase of intensive development.

Another remarkable achievement of the period was the beginning of the national theatre. The first scenic productions of Azerbaijani plays were comedies by Mirza Fatali Akhundov performed in Petersburg and Tiflis in the 1850s. In 1873, Hasan Bey Zardabi joined with Najaf Bey Vezirov to found the national Azerbaijani theatre. Again, plays by Mirza Fatali Akhundov became the pioneering productions, staged in Baku by a troupe of Azerbaijani students. This troupe debuted with The Vizier Of Lenkoran Khanate and Gaji Gara. In the second half of the 1870s, theatrical performances in Azerbaijani took place in Guba and Sheki. Notably the graduates of the Gori Teaching Seminary were actively involved in these productions. Thus, amateur performances of Akhunov`s comedies were arranged in Sheki by Rashid Bey Efendiyev in 1879, in Shusha by Yusif Bey Melikhaknazarov in 1882, and in Nakhcivan by Muhamedtagi Sidgi in 1883.

The end of the 19th and beginning of the 20Ih century was the time of enthusiastic innovation in Azerbaijani theatre. In 1908, Leyli And Mejnun, an opera by Azerbaijani genius Uzeir Hajibekov was staged for the first time. This performance had a great effect on the further development of opera in Azerbaijan and other oriental countries. In 1916, Muslim Magomayev wrote Shah Ismail, another masterpiece of Azerbaijani opera. The beginning of Azerbaijani operetta is associated with musicals by Uzeir Hajibekov, which he created in 1909-1913, acting as a composer and a playwright.

Productions by William Shakespeare, Friedrich Schiller, Nikolay Gogol and Lev Tolstoy in Azerbaijani were most influential for the formation of Azerbaijani dramatic composition. The literary school founded by Mirza Fatali Akhundov, which had grown into a powerful movement in art was becoming increasingly impregnated with democratic ideas. This movement produced a number of famous names of the 20th century literature, culture and politics.

The spirit of the new Azerbaijani literature is best understood from the heritage of Najaf Bey Vezirov, Abdurrahim Bey Haqverdiyev, Mirza Alekper Sabir, Suleyman Sani Akhundov, Uzeir Bey Hajibekov, Nariman Narimanov, Hashim Bey Vezirov, Jalil Mammadquluzada, Abbas Sahhat, Muhamed Khadi, Abdulla Shaig, Alibey Guseinzade, Ahmad Aga Oglu, Ahmed Javad, Husein Javid, and others.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Azerbaijan made outstanding progress in many fields, especially culture, education and the national press. However the principal development of that period was perhaps the creation of the Azerbaijani middle class, which soon assumed a leading role in the country`s public life. Azerbaijani intelligentsia contributed much to the national revival, awareness and spirit. Thus, the complex process of social and political development which catalysed in the 19 th century culminated in fundamental changes in Azerbaijani society. Leaders of the Azerbaijani public and political scene who had been raised in the new environment, were well prepared to respond to demands of this new century. All this prepared the way for the rise of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic. Such was the firstphase of the 20 th century history of Azerbaijan.

The second phase began after the fall of tsarist Russia and the first Azerbaijani independence. The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic (ADR), a newly proclaimed sovereignty, set a course toward large-scale reform and soon was in possession of all state assets, including the parliament, the army and currency. Under any criteria, the ADR may be regarded as the earliest democratic republic of the Orient. The historic declaration adopted by the National Council of Azerbaijan became the manifesto of principles to be followed by the ADR in domestic and foreign affairs. The declared principles, which included self-determination of the Azerbaijani people, equal rights for all, peaceful relationships with other nations and respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, won the ADR international esteem. In January 1920, Azerbaijan`s independence was recognised de facto.

Although the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic existed only for 23 nonths, it will be remembered as one of the most glorious episodes in the history of our people. Its attempts at creating a democratic society and restructuring the national economy, culture, education, health and defence, albeit they were never completed was the first experience of restored sovereignty on Azerbaijani land. The most important message of the short-lived Azerbaijani Democratic Republic to future generations is that Azerbaijani independence is not a myth. Today, we treasure the memory of Mammad Amin Rasulzada, Alimardan Bey Topchubashov, Fatali khan Khoyski, Hasan Bey Agayev, Nasib Bey Usubbeyov, Mekhti Bey Hajinsky, Mammad Yusif Jafarov, Khudadat Bek Rafibekov, Akperaha Sheykhul Islamov, Teymur Bey Makinsky, Samad Bey Mekhmandarov, Ali Aha Shykhlinsky, Sultan Mejid Ganizade, Khalil Bey Khasmammadov, Ahmad Bey Pepinov and Shafi Bek Rustambekov, the apostles of the first Azerbaijani republic.

Remarkably, the present-day Azerbaijani Republic, which regards itself as the ADR`s successor, has adopted the anthem written by Uzeir Hajibekov and Ahmad Javad, the three-colour flag as well as the emblem of the first Republic. This fact is a source of pride and inspiration for every Azerbaijani citizen.

The third phase began in April 1920. Azerbaijan remained independent during the early period of the Soviet regime, and a military and economic treaty with Russia was signed on 30 April. At that time, foreign diplomatic missions were functioning in Azerbaijan, including a Russian consulate. In foreign affairs, Azerbaijan managed to secure territorial integrity and became a party to important treaties of Moscow and Karsk and the Genoa Conference. In 1920, Baku hosted the 1st Assembly of Oriental Peoples. As the Bolsheviks realised that oriental nations are not supportive of further revolutionary transformation they resolved to sacrifice Azerbaijan`s independence to their own political goals. The formation of the Transcaucasian Federation in 1921 was the first arrangement to infringe on Azerbaijani sovereignty, and the proclamation of the USSR on 30 December 1922 put an end to independence. Although Azerbaijan was granted state attributes, including a flag, an emblem, an anthem and even a constitution, it effectively ceased being an independent nation in the context of international law.

From 1922 to 1991, Azerbaijan was part of the vast Soviet empire. During this seventy-year period, the country accumulated rich economic and intellectual potential, which can be illustrated by the facts given below.

In the 1920-1930s, due to the titanic efforts of the Azerbaijani people, the country`s oil sector flourished, new industries were introduced, extensive electricity and irrigation networks were built and agricultural sector rehabilitated. The nation achieved total literacy; a great number of new schools, hospitals, policlinics, colleges, universities, research institutions and cultural facilities emerged in the country.

In 1937, the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic adopted a constitution and launched large-scale educational programmes under the banner of a cultural revolution. The national education system was reformed. Prior to World War II, Azerbaijan had more than 4,000 primary schools and 16 universities.

In 1938 the Azerbaijani Branch of the Soviet Academy of Science was founded; the same year was marked by construction of new theatres which numbered 18 by 1940. In 1937, Uzeir Gajibekov wrote Keroglu, an opera which caused a sensation in Azerbaijan`s cultural life.

Political purges of 1937-1938 had a devastating impact on science and culture in Azerbaijan. More than 50,000 people were killed, and another 100,000 exiled to Siberia and Kazakhstan. The regime destroyed many outstanding talents, including Husein Javid, Mikail Mushfig, Tahi Shakhbazi, Salman Mumtaz, and others.

World War II was the worst nightmare which mankind has ever faced. Nazism threatened not only the future of Italy and Germany, where it was conceived, but that of the entire human race. Taking advantage of an economic upsurge, the Nazis arose as a formidable destructive power. The fact that the world nations despite vast political, ideological and economic differences recognised the need for unity to face the threat of annihilation was perhaps the most important lesson of the 20th century. The anti-Nazi coalition, which comprised many countries, paid a terrible price for the salvation of the world. We are proud that the Azerbaijani people made significant contributions to this high-cost victory.

During the war, the Azeris made apparent many examples of true fortitude and bravery both on the battlefield and on the labour front. Shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, 87 regular battalions and 1,124 militia detachments were formed. More than 600,000 men and women from Azerbaijan served on between 1941-1945. Azerbaijani divisions marched a long way from the Caucasus to Berlin. Approximately 130 natives of Azerbaijan were conferred the Hero of the Soviet Union title, and 30 people received the Order of Glory. More than 170,000 soldiers and officers from Azerbaijan were awarded other Soviet orders and medals. New glorious pages were added to the Azerbaijani history through the lives of Hazi Aslanov, Israfil Mammadov, Asian Vezirov, Adil Quliyev, Ziya Bunyadov, Geray Asadov, Melik Maharramov, Mekhti Huseinzade, Makhmud Abiliov, Akim Abbasov, Tarlan Aliyarbekov, Hajibaba Zeynalov, and many other heroes.

The whole of Azerbaijan`s economy was restructured in order to accommodate the requirements of the armed forces. The light, spinning and food industries converted completely to military production. Within a short span of time Baku transformed into an important arms producer. In 1942, the city`s industry was manufacturing 130 brands of arms and ammunition. Despite great difficulties the Azerbaijani oil sector supplied sufficient fuel to the front and priority industries. The novel technology of high-octane gasoline production which was developed by academician Yusuf Mamedaliyev was introduced in the country. In 1941 Azerbaijan produced an unprecedented volume of 23.5 million tonnes of oil, which accounted for 71.4% of the total Soviet output. During wartime, the Azerbaijani oil industry supplied a total of 75 million tonnes of oil and 22 million tonnes of gasoline and other petroleum products. Oil from Baku was an essential element which contributed to the victory of the Soviet Army, which was engaged heavily on land, in the sea and in the air. Four fifths of all Soviet planes, tanks and automobiles were fuelled with gasoline produced in Baku from local oil.

The war proved one more time that the Azeris are a nation of heroes who face all hardship with dignity.

After the war, Azerbaijan entered a new stage of rapid economic and cultural development. As early as 1948, Azerbaijani industry doubled as compared to pre-war output levels, and in 1960 exceeded the same by 2.8 times. Agricultural production grew by 2 times, railroad transportation by 2.9 times, and capital investment by 3.8 times. New industries were built including chemical, petrochemical, oil processing, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, instrument making and electric engineering. Power, water and agricultural infrastructure was expanded considerably. The workforce from Azerbaijan contributed much to the rehabilitation of the economy in Russia and other Soviet republics. The discovery and development of many oilfields in the South

Caucasus, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and the Tumen region of Russia are associated with the names of Azerbaijani scientists and specialists.

However, the progress of Soviet Azerbaijan slowed in the 1960s as negative trends took shape in the country`s economy. In the context of the USSR, Azerbaijan was becoming increasingly backward in terms of national income, industrial and agricultural production, technology and labour productivity. The decline in the economy implied a failure to adequately address social problems and improve the national welfare. This period of socio-economic recession in Azerbaijan lasted for many years.

In 1965 the gross national product in Azerbaijan increased by only by 3.6 times, and industrial production only by 4 times over the 1940 level, whereas in the USSR these indices averaged 5.7 and 7.9 times respectively. Azerbaijan`s national income, capital assets, capital investment and industrial labour productivity (that is, the key effectiveness criterion in industry) fell behind average USSR levels by 2, 1.8, 1.7 and 1.5 times, respectively.

A crisis was observed in capital construction. Schedules of commissioning industrial installations, residential buildings, utilities and cultural facilities systematically failed. During the 1960s the deficit of capital assets totalled about 1 billion roubles which accounted for 10% of all Azerbaijani capital assets in 1969. Missed opportunities associated with the potential of the key industry and social sectors were the principal preconditions of the 1969s depression.

Performance of the oil, energy, chemical and petrochemical industries and ferrous metallurgy became very irregular, in parallel with the deterioration of technical and economic indicators.

Transport sector problems included an increase in carriage standstill time, delays in ship loading and unloading, decrease in rolling-stock speed, and underutilisation of carrying capacities. Unwarranted standstill time also increased in passenger traffic, which provoked growing discontent especially in the city of Baku.

In agriculture, problems were associated mainly with reclamation of rainfed land and mechanisation of labour. Improper growing practices severely impeded the productivity of cereals, cotton, vegetables, grapes, tea and other crops.

The strategy of placing industrial facilities proved to be completely faulty. The majority of large plants were built in Baku and Sumgayit. As a result, labour resources of smaller townships were underused, and migration to the capital constantly added tension to existing housing and communal problems.

The deep and protracted crisis of the 1960s called for fundamentally different economic concepts, major structural changes, new economic practices and incentives.

The year 1969 became a turning point in the modern history of Azerbaijan. That year, as well as the entire decade to follow, was characterised by energetic efforts and creative initiative which allowed the country to overcome stagnation through comprehensive development programmes.

The period from 1970 to 1985 undoubtedly was one of unprecedented rejuvenation in Azerbaijani society, which embraced large-scale socio-economic reforms and witnessed people`s living standards rise to a new level. The Soviet government enacted five special resolutions designed to assist economic revival in Azerbaijan. These historic acts, vital for the country, set forth a long-term strategy of economic development for the 1970-1980s, et seqq.

Azerbaijan achieved an outstanding upsurge in all sectors of the economy and culture as a result of the implementation of this programme, which allowed for the growing material and cultural needs of the people to be met. For the first time in the post-war history, the 9lh Five-Year Plan of economic development was accomplished ahead of schedule. Retrospectively, it is obvious that the economic basis for the present-day progress of the independent Azerbaijani Republic, which is confidently integrating into the world economy, was founded during that period, in 1970-1985.

Ongoing growth in industrial and agricultural output, exceeding development plans and their accomplishment ahead of schedule, and qualitative improvements in all sectors of the economy illustrated intensive development of Azerbaijan during the 1970-1980s. The share of the Republic in the Soviet Union`s "distribution of labour" and foreign trade considerably increased.

Labour productivity grew in 1985 past the 1970 level by 2.1 times in industry and 1.8 times in agriculture, whilst the USSR averages were, respectively, 15% and 27%. Per capita income in Azerbaijan increased by 335% over the same period, whereas the USSR average was 164%.

An important problem was associated with the management of the country`s labour resources, and major changes occurred in this field.

Due to the creation of new jobs in medium and small cities and rural areas, the annual size of the workforce averaged 813,000 people (a 1.5-time increase), and reached its peak in 1985 (2,360,000 people).

New directions of the development in economic structure were planned out in order to secure ongoing growth apart from an overall course toward re-equipment and technology upgrades. These included the priority advanced sectors, such as machinery building, the chemical and petrochemical industries, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, oil and gas production and processing, as well as energy and mining.

A number of Union-level regulations were enacted on an initiative of Azerbaijan in order to stimulate the enhancement of industrial infrastructure, namely, in instrument making, electronics, electric engineering, machinery building and automobile production, including modernisation of existing plants. These acts provided guidance for the improvement of industry placing policy, the comprehensive development of cities and districts, the efficient management of labour resources and raising living standards.

Implementation of the strategy demanded creative efforts from many plants, research facilities, design and installation staff, and ministries and administrative bodies. Effectively, the regulations addressed all aspects of practical work, including allocation of capital from the Union-level budget, the import of manufacturing equipment, listing of priority construction projects (to be contributed to by the whole of the Soviet Union), human resources development, etc.

The legal framework provided a sound backing for the systematic accomplishment of plans and sustained industrial growth from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. It would be sufficient to mention that joint output of the 9th and 10th Five-Year Plans well exceeded that of the period from 1945 to 1970.

At the time of the 11lh Five-Year Plan, total industrial output reached 58.5 billion roubles, which exceeded the levels of the 8lh and 9th Five-Year Plans by 3.2 and 2.1 times, respectively. During 15 years, total industrial production doubled in comparison with 1921-1970. Each percentage point of production growth during the 1970-1980s represented growth in absolute volume. Whereas a 1% growth during the 9th Five-Year Plan was equal to 45 million roubles, during the 11lh Five-Year Plan it translated to an 100-million increment, exceeding the 8lh Five Year Plan by 3.3 times. Over the same 15 years, sf69% of industrial capital assets were renewed, which was a big portion of national income. The provision of funds for industries grew by 1.4 times in 1980 over the 1970 level, and further by 1.3 times during the 11th Five Year Plan.

An important factor for industrial growth in Azerbaijan was the wide application of the latest scientific developments and technology. From rl971 to 1985, 581 new brands of machines, equipment and instruments were designed; the manufacture of 1,056 new products were launched; and 94 automated process management systems were built. In 1985, there were 2,519 mechanised production lines, 310 automated lines, 1,300 complex mechanised lines with automated units, shops and production sectors.

In early 1982, 73 research and production groups were formed, compromising a total of 264 large facilities. Their share in real production volume was boosted from 0.29% in r969 to 26%. The acceleration of industrial development especially in high-tech sectors lead to an increase in the share of industry in GDP from 22% in 1970 to 24% in 1980, and to 28% in 1985.

The high technology level of industry allowed much room for raising the efficiency and quality, cost cutting and optimising human resources. Thus, in 1985, labour productivity in industry grew by 2.1 times and income by 3.2 times against 1970. The share of top-quality products in the total output increased by 13% in 1980 and by 17.2% in 1985 (as compared to 1.3% in 1970), totalling, respectively, 30% and 46%. The Quality Mark was assigned to 451 items of produce.

In 1970-1985, 213 large plants were commissioned two thirds of which began operation during the 9th and 10th Five-Year Plans and the first two years of the 1 llh Five-Year Plan.

The face of Baku completely changed as new modem-style architecture came to the city. Monuments which were dedicated to Imadeddin Nasimi, Jafar Jabbarli and other historical figures were erected. Housing experienced a boom with the number of residential buildings having doubled over 14 years; effectively another Baku was built.

Standing behind these figures is a titanic effort on the part the Azeri people which brought the Republic to a leading position in the USSR in the production of oil products, steel pipes, non-ferrous metals, synthetic rubber, electric motors, building materials, air conditioners, ear spares, mineral fertiliser, china, faience and carpets. About 350 items of Azeri products were exported to 65 countries.

During this period national income grew by 2.5 times and industrial output and industrial labour productivity doubled and the manufacture of customer goods tripled. Production output during those 14 years was equal to that produced during the previous 50 years. Total agricultural product grew by 2.7 times, and productivity in agriculture doubled.

Total investment in the economy amounted to 21.3 billion roubles, exceeding that of the previous 50 years by 1.5 times. More than 250 large plants were commissioned. Over 2 million people received better housing.

However, these figures albeit they speak for themselves, cannot depict the structural, qualitative changes which occurred in Azerbaijan`s economy. What is most important, the basis for a number of industries which had been new to the country, was set up.

A daily output of Azerbaijan`s economy of that period would include 41,000 tonnes of oil, 37 million cubic metres of gas, 2,200 tonnes of steel, 69,000 metres of pipes, 4,900 tires, 2,700 tonnes of fertiliser, 968 air conditioners, 734 refrigerators, and 546,000 metres of fabric.

Azerbaijan successfully adopted new advanced industries including electronics and equipment manufacture for light and food industries. After commissioning of an air conditioner production facility electric engineering began in the country and soon its capacity increased by 1.5 times.

Baku oil refineries underwent the first major reconstruction in their history, which included the installation of double petroleum refining equipment.

Close attention was paid to the development of professional staff. The system of higher education was expanded and adjusted to the requirements of the rapidly growing economy.

The issue of power supply was also seriously addressed in the 1970s. Today Azerbaijan can boast a managed to create a broad and totally independent electricity network capable of producing up to 5,000 mw. Eight 300-mw power generating units were constructed in Mingachevir with financial support from the Union budget. The Kur power plant was constructed and since 1979 the construction of the Yenikend plant was under way. This construction was not completed due to well-known reasons. We have managed to complete this project only after regaining Azerbaijan`s independence, when a soft loan was received from the EBRD in 1994.

For a serious upturn in the social sphere and economy, we needed first of all skilled specialists. Along with those students who received higher education in Azerbaijan, 3,500 students from Azerbaijan were sent to 170 leading institutions and universities of Moscow and other Soviet cities. It became a good tradition to send around 800 Azeri students annually to other Soviet republics to receive higher education. An important issue was the training of young men in higher military schools. Generally this process had a great impact on the future development of Azerbaijan.

Prior to the break-up of the Soviet Union, ithere were attempts by some experts at identifying the economies whi ch would be self-sufficient after independence. An analysis revealed that only two of the former Soviet republics seemed to have this capability, and one of them was Azerbaijan. Some Azeri analysts argued however, that Azerbaijan has no chance to survive if cut off from the USSR. However, as time showed, the economic, technical and scientific potential accumulated by Azerbaijan during the Soviet period was soiund enough to support sovereignty through its early period.

The period from 1920 to 1991 was characterised by a flourishing of Azeri education, science and culture. Although the foundation of the secular theatre, modern schooling and democratic press in Azerbaijan took place earlier in the 19th century, it was during the Soviet time that illiteracy was eradicated, secondary school was made compulsory, the higher education system enhanced, the Academy of Science was founded, women`s rights to participate in the socio-economic life were secured, dozens of theatres were opened, a film making industry was developed, and numerous newspapers and magazines were founded.

Regrettably, but this vast potential was nearrly lost during the time of political turmoil and the tragedy of Nagomy -Karabakh.

On 5 February 1991, while commenting ont the country`s political crisis at a session of the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan, I spoke about some urgent measures, including the cancellati-on of the state of emergency in Baku, the threat of an escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, and the need to liquidate the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. I underlined that, since 1920, the Azeri people had never found themselves in such a desperate situation. Since 1922, Azerbaijan had been part of the USSR. No other Union republic had gone through such a tragedy. This was no minor thing. This issue called for a comprehensive analysis. My opinion was that "normalisation of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh" meant a deliberate narrowing of the problem. The problem had to be stated this way: restoration of Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity. Therefore we had to analyse: how did it happen that we had ceded Nagorno-Karabakh?

Three years before it had been part of Azerbaijan, for better or worse. However, the problem originated from 1920. In 1923, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was established. Later, the issue was raised many times by Armenian nationalists. But let us interpret history justly. Notably, at that time the movement of the Armenian nationalists was suppressed. But how did it happen that our republic, which had gained strength and international esteem, lost part of its territory in 1988? By raising these issues, I called for the Supreme Council and the people of Azerbaijan to work out a comprehensive and constructive programme. It was obvious that, since 1988, the course of events has been determined not by the will of the Azeri people, but by the Armenian separatists. Those who start thinking of remedial measures after the thing is done always lose. The Armenian nationalists, representing a massive force, were fighting for the separation of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a stepwise manner, based on a national-level platform. Unfortunately, no force in Azerbaijan had been in a position to put up adequate measures to confront the aggression. And this is where the key to the tragedy lies.

The leadership of Azerbaijan of that period ignored the simple fact that the political situation in the world was rapidly changing. The new geopolitical situation was calling for new strategies, but Azerbaijan, unfortunately, was not prepared for that. The People`s Front of Azerbaijan, which had emerged as a force supporting the Perestroika, soon isolated itself from the majority of the Azeri intelligentsia, whereas it should have created a national political platform based on a sound scientific analysis and forecasts. As a result, the rivalry between the Communist Party and the People`s Front became a struggle for power. While crafty plans were implemented in Nagorno-Karabakh, some people who regarded themselves as big politicians were making our citizens victims of this game through their incompetent actions. Unfortunately, these politicians, who were speaking on behalf of the people, prioritised their personal interests and their ambitions and hunger for power, rather than the interests of the nation.

There is the reason why, until today, we have not been able to liquidate the consequences of this reckless policy. On the one part of the Union centre. The people of Azerbaijan therefore had no choice but to assume full responsibility and stand up for their interests.

Then the Soviet government resolved to pursue a policy of punishing the nation which had raised its voice against the injustice. The seizure of Baku by the Soviet Army on 20 January 1990 without declaring a state of emergency was accompanied by outrageous cruelty and violence.

The tragic events of 20 January, which were designed to crush the spirit of the insurgent people, to humiliate their national dignity and to demonstrate the strength of the Soviet military machine, represented open armed aggression and a military crime of the totalitarian Communist regime against the Azeri nation.

Whereas the consequences of the crime were evident, the government of Azerbaijan made every effort to conceal the essence of the tragedy. The fact that the majority of Azeri statesmen were absent from the session of the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan which was held on 22 January 1990 by popular demand, was further proof of their indifference to the people`s fate and their involvement in the prelude to the massacre. The leaders of the country did not even think it necessary to attend the funerals of the Shekhids.

The People`s Front of Azerbaijan, which had demanded many times that a political appraisal be given to the events of 20 January, failed to make any advantage of their rise to power. Therefore, albeit much time had elapsed since the tragedy, this bloody crime by the leaders of the former USSR and Azerbaijan remained uninvestigated.

Much evidence and factual materials related to the disaster of 20 January, which had been made available to the state committee of inquiry by the people, were deliberately taken out of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the judiciary did not initiate any investigations, but, instead, destroyed many important secret documents.

Whereas the events that had happened in other parts of the USSR, including Tbilisi and the Baltic countries, were openly discussed at top Soviet level, the events of 20 January were deliberately misinterpreted and concealed.

Only in 1994 were steps taken to make a political and legal appraisal of the events of 20 January, when the presidential decree of 5 January 1994 instructed the Milli Majlis to do so. The latter devoted a special session to the issue and, as a result, the true reasons behind the tragedy and those who were responsible for it were pointed to. The political and

legal appraisal of the disaster was formulated in a resolution made by the Milli Majlis on 29 March 1994. The tragedy of 20 January was one of the most terrible crimes against humanity committed by totalitarianism in the 20th century. Those who are guilty of this crime have not been punished yet, but we believe that they will be called to account by history, mankind and the Azeri people.

On the tragic day of 20 January, the Azeris demonstrated their adherence to their heroic traditions and their determination to sacrifice their lives for the freedom and independence of their mother

The historical period known as the "parade of sovereignties", which preceded the fall of the USSR, began in November 1988 when Estonia adopted the declaration "On Sovereignty", thus establishing the prevalence of Estonian laws over laws of the USSR in this republic.

In March 1990, the Supreme Council of Lithuania proclaimed independence. Later that year, after the 1st Congress of People`s Deputies of Russia approved, on 12th June, the declaration "On Sovereignty Of Russia", a similar document, "On Principles Of Sovereignty", was adopted by the Supreme Council of Moldova. Also in June, independence was proclaimed by Belarus. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan became independent nations before the end of the year.

In spite of these changes, Azerbaijan continued to be a union republic through 1990, existing under the state of emergency regime, and Soviet soldiers were patrolling the streets of Baku, making violations of human rights a daily routine.

Having realised that the break-up is inevitable, the government of the USSR initiated an all-Union referendum, which took place on 17 March 1991. Official sources reported a 80% attendance, allegedly with 76% of votes in favour of the preservation of the Union. It was obvious, however, that the event was heavily rigged in all the republics, and Azerbaijan was no exception.

The only region which escaped this Communist-enforced referendum was the Nakhcivan Autonomous Republic. This demarche cost the chairman of the Republic`s Supreme Majlis his post, which soon was filled by a second-tier Communist Party functionary.

By that time, there was no doubt that the Union was doomed, and a number of republics proclaimed independence. The Communist government of Azerbaijan, headed by Ayaz Mutalibov who fearful of being unseated had hastily expressed support for the Moscow coup of 19-21 August 1991, were pressed by popular demand to adopt the declaration of 30 August 1991, "On Restoration of Independence of Azerbaijani Republic". This declaration and tihe cancellation, the same day, of the state of emergency in Baku were steps to prepare presidential elections in Azerbaijan scheduled for 8 September. The government declined requests from some deputies to learn the popular attitude towards independence beforehand by means oof referendum. Although the independence declaration envisaged that tEhe constitutional act "On Independence of Azerbaijan" be adopted in two weeks, in reality this process lasted until 18 October, and publication of the act took another 20 days. The referendum devoted to this iss.ue was postponed to 15 November for unclear reasons.

Other attempts to preserve the USSR were made by Gorbachev and heads of nine republics who signed the 9+1 declaration and began the Novo-Ogarev negotiations. They tried to create the Commonwealth of Independent States to replace the Soviet Union, and it was planned to sign a new treaty on 20 August 1991. After that, the known coup took place in Moscow in August, when the leaders of Azerbaijan spoke in support of the regime of emergency. It is interesting to note that when Moscow reporters commented on return of Gorbachev from Foros and- neutralization of the faction of Yanayev-Kryuchkov, Azeri television announced the resolutions by GKChP. The signature of the treaty was postponed, and the mysterious "August Coup " put an end to the totalitarian system. The President of Russia abolished any activities of the Communist party in Russia and dismissed its Central Committee. On 14 September 1991, the Communist Party of Azerbaijan ceased existing, in accordance with the resolution of its extraordinary 23rd Congress.

On 9 April 1991, the Supreme Soviet of GJeorgiap assed an edict on restoring the sovereign status of the country, a decision based on the results of the referendum, followed after the August events by other Soviet republics. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan was not among them.

The referendum of 1 December 1991 revealed Ukraine`s reluctance to join the Union Treaty, and few days later heads of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, based on the resolutions of Cheir meeting in Belarus, declared the USSR defunct. Thus, 8 December 1991 became the last day of the Soviet era.

The movements and trends of the late 1980s early 1990s which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union were of different nature in the various union republics. In particular, in the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belorusia, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova these processes featured a high degree of unity of goals and efforts of both the authorities and the people, and were associated with lesser tension and adverse effects.

Finally, on 29 December 1991, a referendum regarding the constitutional act on independence was launched in the Azerbaijani Republic, and independence was declared for by 95% of the population. In other words, Azerbaijan`s sovereignty was legally constituted only after the fall of the USSR became a fact of history.

The latter suggests clearly that the Communist government of Azerbaijan was making every effort to prevent the country from leaving the moribund empire.

Even after the independence act, Azeri leaders attempted to hand over some issues which were an exclusive Republic`s prerogative, to the State Council of the former Soviet Union, and agreed to place the national armed forces under the Union command. Earlier, they insisted on delegating 27 deputies from Azerbaijan to the Supreme Council of the USSR, which attempt failed only due to the strong reluctance of the deputies.

The removal of the Communist Party from the political scene, the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of new independent states all were the outcomes of a natural historical process, which is confirmed by the recognition of the new sovereignties by the world community, represented by the UN and other organisations. Therefore, Azerbaijan`s independence, as well as that of other post-Soviet republics, should in no way be viewed as an achievement of whatsoever political forces or individuals, but rather as a objective result of historic processes or as a precious gift of the fortune to the whole of the Azeri people.

The first year of the 21st century - the year 2001 - will see the tenth anniversary of the Azerbaijan Republic`s independence. This event will surely become one of the most important milestones in our history. The road to independence was far from being smooth and easy. Unfortunately, a tendency remains toward crafting a new history for the nation in order to play up to various political forces. This should not be allowed.

Looking back at the historic path we have traversed, we can see that independence of the Azerbaijani state is a national wealth and the monopolisation of privatised state property and assets, whether by private or state bodies is absolutely inadmissible.

Thus, 18th October 1991, the date of enacting the constitutional law on independence, marked the beginning of the fourth stage in the history of Azerbaijan in the 20th century. We now live in freedom from that time on and we are an independent state. Our people are the masters of their own destiny, their land and their country.

However, protecting independence is a far more difficult task than gaining it. Emancipation is not only a gift of fortune, a priceless treasure, but has also placed a huge responsibility on each and every citizen starting with the heads of state. During this new stage of historic development the Azerbaijan Republic has been faced with historically important tasks such as strengthening statehood, building a democratic, legal and secular nation, the restoration of territorial integrity of the country, coming to a workable solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem in accordance with national interests, and generally making the country a secure place to live and work. All of these require implementing a consistent, purposeful and wise internal and foreign policy with efficient use of the social, economic and intellectual potential of the nation, as well as its social and political forces.

However, if we examine the initial years of an independent Azerbaijan we may observe that the manner in which these goals were attained was neither consistent nor resolute. People who led the country in 1991 and early 1992 pursued a policy which ran counter to political processes as practised in the international community and the USSR and counter to the will of the Azeri people who strived for independence. They shared the position of those who attempted to preserve the Soviet Union at any price and to prevent Azerbaijan from leaving the USSR.

Azerbaijan was faced with an urgent need to develop its own internal and foreign policy, a pressing task for any country which has just regained its independence. Unfortunately, nothing was done in 1991-1992. In addition to aggression from Armenia, the internal stability in Azerbaijan was shaken, and illegal groups of militants formed and were used in the violent struggle for power which took place during that time. This war for power and control was extremely detrimental for Azerbaijan.

The dangerous course which political processes in Azerbaijan have followed demonstrated that the government did not conduct independent but rather a wry and hypocritical policy from the period when independence was obtained through the act issued on 18lh October 1991. The leaders of the era did not undertake any genuine steps towards achieving actual independence for the country and ignored growing discontent and protest by the people and attempted to suppress it. Their actions complicated the formation of an independent state in Azerbaijan on the one hand, and lead the Nagorno-Karabakh issue straight to a dead end and created painful challenges for today`s generation.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated and Azerbaijan became independent, the government of Mutalibov continued an internal and external policy which protected their own interests rather than those of the independent Azerbaijan Republic. In addition they conducted a unilateral policy in regard to foreign states. These ill conceived policies did not address the economic and political interests of Azerbaijan, nor its security and territorial integrity, nor did it encourage the state to exercise its sovereign rights.

We regret to remark that no well advised policy consistent with the independence interests of Azerbaijan was conducted over the period from March to May 1992. Independent statehood suffered great losses as a result of the armed struggle for power which began in Azerbaijan as well as the multiple authority which reined during the period. The enormous problems which Azerbaijan still finds itself unable to resolve were created during that same period.

In general, the time can be considered a period of utmost contradiction and danger in the history of independent Azerbaijan. For several months the country suffered a blow which would continue its effect through the generations.

In 1991-1992 the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh aggravated each day. The Khojaly tragedy took place. On 6 March 1992, Mutalibov had to resign. The period of chaos began. The betrayal surrender of Shusha and the betrayal treaty related to the quota on armed forces signed on 15 May 1992 in Tashkent by the then minister of defence Ragim Kaziyev have become a heavy and irreparable blow to the present and future of the Azeri people and its army. It was the time of hundreds of such betrays.

On 14 May Mutalibov returned to power and on 15 May the People`s Front organised a storm of the parliament building. On 18 May, the Parliament declared illegitimate its decision taken 4 days before and the attempt of Mutalibov to regain his power failed.

In May-June 1992 power in the country was seized by an alliance of the People`s Front-Musavat which in fact resulted in the restoration of neo-bolshevism in Azerbaijan. Anarchy in the economy continued. The material resources of the country were plundered ruthlessly and money earned through selling commodities abroad found their way to private accounts with foreign banks. The majority of the populace were on the verge of poverty. An incredible level of brain drain started with famous scientists, writers, poets, and artists moving from Azerbaijan to Turkey, Iran, Russia and other countries. The name of the Azeri language itself was altered, thus violating the constitutional law on the language.

Internal and foreign policy during the tenure of Mutalibov was full of contradictions, the state policy was dictated by Moscow and everything was subdued to restoring the Soviet Union. However, the situation worsened due to the fact that modern policy demonstrated no clear purpose and contradicted objective reality in the international arena as well as the hopes and aspirations of the people of Azerbaijan, which was potentially extremely dangerous for our statehood.

Today, since morning, very effective, substantial and very important negotiations and meetings for us have been carried out with the president of Germany mister Roman Herzog, the federal chancellor of Germany mister Helmut Kohl and other officials of the country. During these meetings and negotiations, relations between Germany and Azerbaijan have been analyzed in detail, and both parties have highly estimated our cooperation, which is available until now. We have stated our opinions on acceptance of measures for the further expansion and development of cooperation between Germany and Azerbaijan and came to the certain agreement. I highly estimate these meetings and negotiations, the reached agreements and I wish to express confidence that on their basis, relations between Germany and Azerbaijan will develop more speedily in the future.

Relations between Germany and Azerbaijan, German and Azerbaijan people have old history. Dear president, who acted up to me, has told very valuable words on this occasion. In the beginning of the last century, Germans for the first time have arrived in Azerbaijan. Today, with feeling of satisfaction I can tell that when Germans came to live in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan people has met them benevolently in its ground, in its native land, and the next years Germans lived and created together with Azerbaijan, Azerbaijanis.

Within the Second World War, despite of eviction of Germans from Azerbaijan, a trace which they have left during residing in our country, and the work done in Azerbaijan by their representatives of the subsequent generation, are very valuable for Azerbaijan. In the end of the past and in the beginning of this century the German capital, the German businessmen who have come to Azerbaijan, have done great work here. Traces from the works, done by them, have remained to this day. The German company "Siemens" has found out a part of the electric wire during recent researches in Azerbaijan, which was made by "Siemens" in Baku in 1905, and has brought it to Germany as a museum exhibit.

All this demonstrates the great history of the German-Azerbaijan relations and shows bringing great advantage of friendship, cooperation between our people to both German and Azerbaijan people.

The great and rich history of German people was always very interesting and caused sympathy in Azerbaijan. German people have brought a great contribution to history of mankind, a world civilization. It is highly estimated all over the world. And Azerbaijan people well know about the contribution of German people to history of mankind, the world and estimate them highly. Works of geniuses of German people - Heine, Goethe, Schiller and other writers who have ennobled the German literature, have been translated into the Azerbaijan language, and Azerbaijanis read them in its language with great interest.

German composers Beethoven, Wagner, Strauss, being famous by profession in the world are widely known for their works in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijanis love them very much and achievements in development of classical music have been reached under influence of their music in Azerbaijan.

All of these are great history of Germany and German people. But achievements of German people in our century, for last years are worthy high estimation, too. After the Second World War, German people have gone through very big and difficult history. German people have achieved great successes owing to its talent, diligence, mind and has made Germany one of the most advanced countries of the world from the economic and cultural point of view. The greatest achievement of German people was reunion of Germany five years ago. I want to note that reunion of Germany has been apprehended in Azerbaijan with greater enthusiasm and restoration of justice, existence of German people within the limits of the indivisible state has been met as a fair result of the processes occurring in the world.

After reunion, Germany began to use its opportunities more widely. Today`s achievements of Germany play very important role and have big authority in the world. Successes of Germany in development of science and techniques, economy and culture, democracy and free economy are a parameter for all countries, including for Azerbaijan. I congratulate you with these achievements and I want to notify that in independent Azerbaijan we successfully use your achievements and experience in the state construction, development of democracy, in implementation of economic reforms.

On the basis of all these we attach special significance to relations between Azerbaijan and Germany and we consider it strategically important relations for Azerbaijan as friendship relations. I am very glad that Germany estimates properly a role and a place of the Azerbaijan Republic in the World community. Words about Azerbaijan, about its geostrategic importance, which were said by mister president Herzog during his speech, please us very much.

I am sure that relations between Germany and Azerbaijan have the big future. I want to assure you that we will use our best efforts for expansion, development of these relations. In Azerbaijan our duties are strengthening and provision of irreversibility of Azerbaijan`s state independence. We build the democratic, legal, civilized state in Azerbaijan and we will follow this way up to the end. In Azerbaijan for development of democracy we use world achievements and experience in the field of democracy, and we will go on this way of democracy up to the end.

Our basic purpose is carrying out of these reforms in economy, in market economy and, in particular, in privatization of the property. I am very glad that achievements in the fields of democracy and economy in Azerbaijan were highly estimated in the speech of the German President mister Roman Herzog. In November of the last year, the first democratic Constitution was adopted in Azerbaijan by a national referendum and democratic parliamentary elections were held. All this shows democratic shape of the Azerbaijan state.

The agreement signed by us in April with the European Community, and acceptance of Azerbaijan in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in the status of the special visitor shows belonging of Azerbaijan to the Europe, and at the same time is considered as appreciating achievements of our country in the field of democracy. We cooperate with Germany in the field of realization of all our achievements, aspirations and concerning the processes going in Azerbaijan, and the processes around Azerbaijan and we consider this cooperation effective.

The heaviest and painful problem for us is elimination of consequences of Armenia`s aggression against Azerbaijan, clearing of the occupied lands, returning of more than one million refugees, expelled from these grounds, to their native homes. Today, I declare again that we wish to resolve the conflict with Armenia by peace way, and we will adhere to this way. In this sphere we require the help of the World community, the European Union, including Germany.

So, relations, cooperation between Germany and Azerbaijan have great prospects and opportunities. We will try to take advantage of these opportunities effectively. Our today`s negotiations and meetings give to us confidence that we can successfully move on this way. Once again, I heartily congratulate German people and the government of Germany with their achievements. I wish German people, all Europe the peace and tranquility. I wish German people good luck and happiness.

Developing tensions in relationships with neighboring countries, an atmosphere of distrust then became rooted in Azerbaijan, and other variables resulted in certain severe negative consequences.

A major feature of internal and foreign policy as pursued by the government during that time was a total lack of any consistent and purposeful course to speak of. State policy was constructed not on one general concept and system, but rather on numerous ungrounded declarations which expressed the needs of state interest groups based on contradictory and emotional statements which as rule rebutted each other.

Such irresponsible statements often made by the political forces which ruled the country created a false impression within the international community of the true purposes and tasks, principles and goals of development of Azerbaijan which contributed to the further isolation of the country from the civilised nations of the world.

The domestic situation became more aggravated each day, and a complete lack of political, social and economic reforms were implemented designed to build a democratic state where the rule of law is observed. On the contrary, all moves made by the leaders of the time pulled society into a bottomless abyss. Social and political chaos, anarchy, state racketeering, and violence ended in an intensification of national opposition and an absolute crisis of power.

Such unwise and incompetent policy led to a complete failure of the People`s Front-Musavat authority in the country, isolation of our country from the world, and the virtual formation of an anti-Azerbaijan coalition. This was accompanied by chaos and arbitrariness ruling during the construction of the Azerbaijan state, an armed struggle for power among political forces supported by certain state and political circles, economic breakdown, embezzlement of national property and a spontaneous rejection of everything positive attained during the Soviet period. As a result, in summer of 1993 the Azerbaijan statehood was faced with a threat of crisis and destruction, and the country was on the verge of a civil war and disintegration.

The opposition within the People`s Front among its former broth-ers-in-arms ended with the Gyanja revolt. Deep political, economic and social crises in Azerbaijan resulted in a paralysis of power. The prime minister, Milli Majlis chairman and the heads of the law-enforcement and defence ministries all resigned. The country was not governed by any structure or person. June 1993 was a time of a deep political and social crisis.

The situation became so threatening that the independent state created by this favourable historic opportunity encountered a real danger of losing it all to anarchy which about through either deliberate action or incompetence. Therefore, the years of 1991-1993 are not only considered "lost" years in the history of independence of Azerbaijan but are also considered the time when Azerbaijan was confronted by the dilemma of "to be or not to be."

The temporary military defeat of Azerbaijan in the war with Armenia had, for several internal and external reasons, resulted in political support and aid being provided to Armenia, the Russian and the Armenian diaspora being the major among the supporters. Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia began thorough preparations for victory in the conflict long before it began. The idea of "a violation of the rights of the poor Armenian people" in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue got across to the brains of each Armenian, thus becoming the prevailing component of the national ideology.

Large-scale fraudulent propaganda was carried out in order to win the sympathy of the international community. When the conflict began, the leaders of Armenia squared themselves on the concept of unity and unanimous agreement shared among their people, both inside the country and abroad, on the necessity to separate Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan. On the other hand, Armenia had worked on creating an army and forming armed detachments capable of conducting military operation in the Nagorno-Karabakh area.

The situation in Azerbaijan was absolutely different. Its leaders were well aware of the processes underway in Armenia, but were unwilling to bring the truth about the actual situation with Nagorno-Karabakh nei-vther to the notice of the international community, nor to its people.

Abdurrakhman Vezirov, a person brought to power by the notorious "perestroika" of the Gorbachev era stimulated realisation of the Armenian guileful intentions in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. His policy came across the national interests of the Azeri people. After the bloodshed in January which was initiated to suppress the will of the Azeris to struggle, Abdurrakhman Vezirov had to flee to Moscow to escape from the anger of the people.

The fate of Ayaz Mutallibov, who took power after Vezirov, was similar. Ayaz Mutallibov, a faithful follower of any direction from Moscow, ignored the demand of the people to create an army and formed armed detachments of his guards individually. Yes, he preferred to protect his power from certain forces inside the country to protecting the Azeri land from Armenian aggression. As a result, he also had to flee to Moscow.

A new force grabbed power: the People`s Front. Some time later, the rule of Abulfaz Elchibei placed the country on the brink of an abyss because of his incompetence, his ungrounded personal ambitions, and forces within the governing bodies. Azerbaijan where arbitrariness reigned was on the verge of a civil war. Being unable to control the situation, Abulfaz Elchibey also secretly flew to Keleki. Think it over. Three leaders who ran away in a similar manner...

In June 1993 Azeri people insisted on a change of power in the country and the second period in the history of Azerbaijan`s independence began. The country had to be saved from disasters it was faced with, from the encroachment by internal and external hostile forces, from occupation of our lands, and finally, from the annihilation of independence and disintegration.

Beginning from June 1993, the first task of filling the power vacuum was fulfilled. The forces of separation which became active in various regions were neutralised, a tendency toward division was overcome, and the threat of civil was eliminated. The liquidation of armed groups serving certain persons and political circles began and criminal elements who organised the encroachment upon the statehood of Azerbaijan and its independence were isolated from society and punished. The integrity of state structures and the people was secured, and a sense of statehood and fatherhood was promoted among all citizens regardless of their ethnic and religious origin.

It is quite natural that resolute measures were to be taken with the aim of resolving the Azerbaijan-Armenian conflict and toward making the situation in Azerbaijan stable thus allowing us to live as an independent state. The problem was not easy: internal conflicts, a struggle for power, provocation by various forces with no national army in place - all these created a situation when the occupation of Azeri lands by Armenia became possible. They craftily made use of that situation and occupied our land step by step.

Beginning from November 1993, urgent measures were undertaken in Azerbaijan to create a national army and regular armed forces, and protect our land on the one hand, and to engage in all political and diplomatic means to achieve a cease-fire. As a result, a cease-fire agreement was made in May 1994, a vital achievement for our country.

The end of the war, an improvement in the domestic situation, a strengthening of social and political stability and a relief in tension which developed between Azerbaijan and its neighbours - all these helped to preserve the existence of Azerbaijan as an independent state and its further progress.

As a result of intensive efforts, the OSCE Budapest summit came to a decision in 1994 to regulate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with international law.

In September 1994, taking advantage of the relatively calm situation, growing trust and interest in our country among the international community we signed the first oil contract, The Contract of the Century.

There have arrived esteemed visitors in Azerbaijan to note this important event. Our guests are the guests representing the countries and the companies, including in the first contract - "the contract of the century" and high-ranking representatives of the companies and the countries to which these companies belong, participating in new contracts and the consortium established after the first contract for teamwork on deposits of the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea. Today I welcome all visitors who have paid attention and respect to Azerbaijan and came to Azerbaijan connecting with the event and participating in this ceremony with all my heart. You are welcome!

Azerbaijan is the ancient oil country and has received popularity in the world as the oil country. I want to remind you some historical figures. In 1847 the oil gushed for the first time in the world in Azerbaijan, in Baku, in Bibiheybat and for the first time in the world the oil extraction by the industrial way began in our country.

At the end of XIX - in the beginning of XX century Azerbaijan was the biggest country extracting oil in the world. In the beginning of XX century more than 50 percent of oil extracted in the world produced in Azerbaijan, in Baku. In XX century as the oil country Azerbaijan has very much advanced. The oil industry of Azerbaijan had great merits in discovery of new oil deposits in territory of Soviet Union, especially in the territory of Russia. It is no casual that large oil deposits in territory of Russia afterwards have been named "the Second Baku ", "the Third Baku ", and "the Fourth Baku"

During the Second World War in the struggle against German fascism 75 percent of oil used by Soviet Union was extracted in Azerbaijan. Today we can tell with feeling of great pride that Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan people, oilmen possess tremendous merits in a victory over German fascism.

Azerbaijan as the country, which goes ahead in the world in business of oil extraction by the industrial way, is also the country which has taken the first steps in discovering of oil deposits in the sea, in its deep-water parts and in their use. In Caspian Sea, in the legendary place called "Oil Rocks", in November, 1949 - this month, 48 years ago, the first oil-well gushed a fountain. And in this way, oil industry was established and began to develop in Caspian Sea.

Scientists, oilmen and experts of Azerbaijan had great merits in studying mineral resources of Caspian Sea and discovering oil-and-gas deposits, and they always went ahead. Today I can safely tell that majority of oil deposits of the Caspian Sea were discovered by oilmen, scientists of Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijan oilmen attained great successes in the field of an oil extraction in Caspian Sea. Since 1949 till today there has been extracted 420 millions tons of oil, 320 billion cubic meter of gas in Azerbaijan in Caspian Sea. In the territory called "Oil Rocks", there have been established piers on tens kilometers, on separate oil deposits platforms have been constructed for extraction of oil. The Azerbaijan oilmen working in Caspian Sea in severe and difficult conditions have shown samples of heroism and made much for constantly oil extraction in Caspian Sea. All this - the scientific - technical, material base, and also the big technical installations founded in Azerbaijan in the field of a petroleum industry in last years, became a good basis for carrying out of the big work in a new stage of a petroleum industry of independent Azerbaijan.

For this reason, due to our available broad experience and big material base being in our disposal Azerbaijan also started to undertake the new steps directed on an oil extraction in Caspian Sea, from deep-water deposits. Now, in this stage, Azerbaijan works together with the large oil companies of many countries of the world. As a result of it in September, 1994 the first oil contract was signed. As a result of it during the subsequent period, last three years, new contracts were signed on joint development of many other oil and gas deposits located in the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea, with the large oil companies of the world. After the first contract it was signed 8 more contracts on joint exploitation of oil-and-gas deposits. Now in the contracts signed for exploitation of deposits in the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea, participate 20 large oil companies, belonging to the 12 countries.

Thus, Azerbaijan, being the country which has taken the first steps in discovering and exploitation of oil deposits of Caspian Sea, now - at the end of XX century and on the threshold of XXI century, - has shown the important initiatives in the field of use of huge energy resources of Caspian Sea both for Azerbaijan, all near-Caspian countries, and the world economy. As a result of all the great work has been carried out for last three years.

I can tell with satisfaction that already the big interest is shown to Caspian Sea all over the world. The numerous companies address to us on the issue of teamwork on oil-and-gas deposits of the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea. I want to tell with feeling of great satisfaction that as other near-Caspian countries - Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran have already begun, to carry out activities in sectors of Caspian Sea belonging to them. I hope these works will be successful. As energy resources of Caspian Sea are very important for humanity, they will be used in the name of development of humanity.

Today we have gathered here for the event which is connected with extraction of initial oil. But today simultaneously it is great holiday of the Azerbaijan Republic - second anniversary of acceptance of the first democratic Constitution of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan.

I congratulate you, all citizens of Azerbaijan on this holiday - day of acceptance of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and I wish all of you successes in construction of the democratic, legal, secular state in Azerbaijan on the basis of this Constitution.

Today - the Constitution day being honorable for Azerbaijan, at the same time ceremony of extraction of initial oil marked by us as a result of the work done during three years on deposits of Caspian Sea are connected with each other. All these are connected with each other. As after Azerbaijan`s gaining the state independence, the people`s becoming the owner of the riches and getting the opportunity to use their riches as they like, Azerbaijan being the independent country has achieved signing of such a contract, as " the Contract of the century" with many countries, the companies of the world. Just independent Azerbaijan has accepted the first independent Constitution. There is a process of construction of the democratic state in Azerbaijan. All these are the phenomenon connected and supplemented each other.

Today we have gathered here in connection with extraction of initial oil on oil deposit of "Chirag". Today early in the morning we have gone on a platform established on oil deposit of "Chirag" by the helicopter, got acquainted with the work, examined a platform. In the middle of the sea, really, the miracle has been created there.

Azerbaijanis cannot be surprised of piers and platforms in the sea. I hope, the visitors going to the deposit of "Chirag" by the helicopter can confirm it. As flying from coast up to platform of "Chirag", from the helicopter we have seen numerous platforms in Caspian Sea, founded on Oil Rocks and multikilometer piers, and also apartment houses. All this was set up by Azerbaijan people. Therefore it does not surprise us much. But at the same time, a platform created within three years on oil deposit of "Chirag", is really a miracle surprising a person. It differs from other platforms, piers in Caspian Sea for its modern techniques, technology, modern opportunities. A person who sees this platform just admires. It is huge integrated plant, a factory, it is possible to tell, the big city. People both live and work there. People have begun exploitation of oil and oil extraction there.

This work has economic, political and moral value. Economic value is consist of that the work started by us in this year, will bring the big economic profit to Azerbaijan, to both the companies and the countries working jointly with Azerbaijan in Caspian Sea in the future. However moral-political value of it is consist of that we together introduce there modern techniques and technology existing in the world and highly professional experts, engineers, workers arrived from many countries of the world work together with the Azerbaijan oilmen, experts. It pleases us very much. This is a beginning of our future activities, this is fine beginning.

The work done within three years, is worthy of a high estimation. The big platform was set up on oil deposit of "Chirag". There, where depth of water makes 120 meters, they have drilled a well depth of 3 thousand meters, and oil is extracted from this well. According to the plan from this platform there will be drilled a second well, then 8 more wells, as a whole there will be drilled 24 wells in the future. Annually there will be extracted about 6 million tons of oil from this platform.

However alongside with a platform, due to the work done for these three years, the material base for the prompt export of extracted oil has been set up. The oil pipeline of 176 kilometers was built from a platform up to coast. The oil extracted from the platform of "Chirag" already passes on this oil pipeline to the coast. Together with oil as well as accompanying gas is extracted from the wells. The gas pipeline has been constructed by extent of 48 kilometers on Oil Rocks for use of this accompanying gas from platform of "Chirag". Accompanying gas will go there, from there will be delivered to coast and used. The big terminal, a complex has been constructed on seacoast - in Sangachal, near to Baku for collecting extracted oil and its transfer to the foreign market. It means that delivering and allocation of extracted oil on coast has been provided. The oil pipeline has already been constructed for the export of the extracted oil to the abroad, world market.

You know, that in due time we planned construction of two oil pipelines for export of extracted oil in the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea. The first oil pipeline should go through territory of Russia to the port of Novorossiysk of Black sea, the second oil pipeline - through territory of Georgia to the port of Supsa of Black sea.

After the big difficulties the first oil pipeline is already involved. Length of this oil pipeline in territory of Azerbaijan - 230 kilometers, and its extent up to Novorossiysk - 1400 kilometers. As a result of the works done in territory of Russia, obstacles in Northern Caucasus were eliminated. On October 25 of this year Azerbaijan oil on this oil pipeline passed Azerbaijani-Russian border. According to the message received by us today in the morning, oil on this oil pipeline has already passed the city of Groznyy. I hope that in the near future oil will reach Novorossiysk port. However today we were informed that the oil extracted from the deposit of "Chirag", will reach Novorossiysk port in February of the next year on this oil pipeline. That is all this work has been adjusted at an identical level.

I am familiar with experience of the last years, the last periods. Sometimes the part of work was carried out but because of default of other part all work did not give the results. However, here work is carried out in a complex.

The second oil pipeline is been constructed through territory of Georgia. The leadership of the Azerbaijan International Operational Company informs that this oil pipeline will be ready in September of the next year. Thus, the extracted oil not only from deposit of "Chirag", but also from other deposits can go on two various directions to the world market.

Certainly, all these executed works are the results of activity of the companies including in a consortium, and also the capital invested by them. Under the direction of the international operational company in the work done for these three years, shareholders of a consortium invest the capital for the sum of 1 billion dollars. It is great event in itself. It is possible that 1 billion dollars is considered the small sum for any state. But carrying out of teamwork on the sum of 1 billion dollars within three years is very great and joyful event for our region, for Azerbaijan.

I want to inform that all this work has attracted many companies of the world to Azerbaijan and they act here. More than 400 companies taking part in the work carried out for realization of the program of the first contract, involved from the different countries of the world. These companies have used from the capital, the investment of 1 billion dollars and everyone got benefit from it. Here it is a lot of companies from the United States of America, the Great Britain, and some countries of Europe. With feeling of satisfaction I can tell, that among these companies which are carrying out teamwork, 72 enterprises are the industrial or building enterprises of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Cost of the works which are carried out by the enterprises of the Republic of Azerbaijan makes the sum of 163 million dollars.

Thus, many countries, the companies of the world and also the companies, the enterprises, scientists, experts, the highly professional workers working in a petroleum industry of Azerbaijan have been involved in implementation of this contract. We are pleased that the quantity of highly professional experts invited from abroad is reduced day by day but the number of experts of the Azerbaijan Republic involved in realization of the contract increases. And it is natural. As Azerbaijan possesses the great scientific and technical potential in petroleum industry. It is necessary to use this potential of Azerbaijan. It is more favourable from the economic point of view.

Once again I want to note that all done work has shown power resources of Caspian Sea to the world. I informed you that 9 contracts on deposits of the Azerbaijan sector have been already signed. The capital of the first contract is intended for the sum of 8 billion dollars. All planned investments, under all signed contracts make 30 billion dollars. All of them are intended for deposits of the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian sea. However there are very rich oil-and-gas deposits in the sectors belonging to other near-Caspian countries. I think that the work done in the Azerbaijan sector, the gained experience can be very useful for them to start an action. We are ready to exchange our experience with all near-Caspian countries, to help in using of energy resources of Caspian Sea.

On the one hand, new economic activity in Azerbaijan awaked the confidence of the people in their future as well as the sympathies of those nations who treated us as friends. On the other hand, this definitely was not welcomed by certain internal and external forces which did not want our country to develop successfully. Such forces stood against Azeri statehood and political and military groups moved by ambition did not want to resign and could not abide by the rule of law which was being established in Azerbaijan. Influenced and assisted by various foreign circles, they made multiple attempts to overthrow the lawful government of the Azerbaijan Republic, and to create a situation of a vacuum of power and civil opposition, as well as organized assaults on the heads of state. I think that as a scientist, organizer and public figure Faramaz Magsudov can be a good president for the Academy of Sciences.

Let`s finish our today`s meeting now. See you later. Good bye.