Speech by the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting dedicated to the Baku conference on the restoration of the historical Silk Road – Baku, September 10, 1998

Ladies and gentlemen!

I have invited you regarding the results of the international conference held in Baku, Azerbaijan on September 7-8. Undoubtedly, the results of the international conference must be thoroughly discussed. Especially the decisions adopted and treaties signed at the conference must be implemented. But today I have invited those, who took part in preparing and holding the conference, so I can express my remarks on preparing, carrying out and ending the conference.

Our nation and the world community are aware of the importance of the Baku conference on the restoration of the historical Silk Road. We had negotiated with the European Commission on organizing such a conference. Long time ago the necessity of organizing this conference had emerged. It had taken long time to discuss whether to organize this conference or not, where to hold it. Because the main purposes of the TACIS (adopted in 1991) and TRACECA (adopted in 1993) programmes of the European Union were to establish and develop relations with newly independent states, as well as set and develop the Europe-Caucasus-Asia Transport Line.

 The European Union, forecasting the collapse of the Soviet Union, reacted adequately and implemented relevant measures. It was obviously proved by launching the TACIS programme in 1991, when the Soviet Union still existed, in order to provide financial assistance to newly independent states.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, great transformations happened in the Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet states gained independence, the necessity of launching the TACIS programme for developing economic and other relations between Europe and Asia emerged.

The Economic Commission of the European Union involved the Caucasian and Central Asian countries to this programme. In May 1993 the TRACECA programme was established. Until recently measures regarding the implementation of TRACECA have been taken in different countries. We have also cooperated with the European Union. But not everyone understood what a bright TRACECA would have. At last, in 1996-1997 the restoration of the ancient Silk Road became a global issue. Its purpose was to establish new communication and transport lines, tie Europe and Asia via closer, suitable, secure and low-priced ways, set and develop economic cooperation between countries through these ways and increase the impact of the European Union on these countries.

The restoration of the historical Silk Road has drawn a big attention from scientific and practical point of view. This matter has been discussed in press, scientific publications, magazines, conferences, and symposiums in different countries. The attention to and interest in the Great Silk Road have increased. Thus, there has been an interest in and discussions on the restoration of the Great Silk Road even in the United States, which is actually very far from it. Or there has been an interest in and a number of proposals on the Great Silk Road in Japan, another remote place of the Earth. Last year the Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto put forward the concept, attitude and proposals of his government on the ancient Silk Road. Japan has constantly paid attention to this matter.   

The restoration of the ancient Silk Road – the establishment of a modern transport line on its basis has been proposed by most of the countries lying along the Great Silk Road as an important matter.

Azerbaijan has taken an active part in this process and closely cooperated with the European Union. We have considered our multi-sided cooperation with the Economic Commission of the European Union important and seen its positive results.

In general, the European Union is an organized entity. Despite Europe`s large size, only 15 nations are represented in the European Union. There is a high-level, modern economic cooperation between the EU members. The effectiveness of this cooperation is obvious. Because the EU members highly appreciate the activity of this entity. Thus, the EU enjoys a remarkable reputation. The European Union also extends its relations with European and Asian countries.

As you know, a treaty on cooperation was signed between the European Union and Azerbaijan in Luxembourg in April 1996. We try to participate in bodies of the European Union. In past years we received some financial assistance from the European Union and we still use the assistance of the European Commission in implementing several programmes.

Our cooperation with the European Commission is successful, and we proved ourselves as a reliable partner in this cooperation. I want to mention one fact. We signed treaties with the European Union in 1994 when we were not fully aware of details of our cooperation with the European Commission. The EU provided some assistance to Azerbaijan. When there was a shortage in our country, we received a large amount of wheat from the EU to supply our population with food. At that time, the EU did also provide us with the loan.

I have to acknowledge that I was not fully informed about that credit then. The Cabinet of Ministers, which disagreed with me, signed documents on accepting those credits. After I studied the matter, both our Cabinet of Ministers and financial agencies explained that despite being titled a credit, that was an aid of the European Commission to Azerbaijan. They told we would return those credits three years later, so we should not worry.  

Unfortunately, the situation was tense in the Azerbaijani government back then. You are also aware who chaired the Cabinet of Ministers in 1994. Thus, I think the mistakes were made then. That`s true that Azerbaijan was in need of credits and material assistance at that time. But we must always know what we receive credit for and how we are going to pay it back. However, most people, including those, who signed for receiving that credit had not thought about it.

Allegedly, the credits were provided to Azerbaijan to bring food only from Europe. Now we learn that mistakes were made in using those credits, too. At last, 1997 was the deadline for us to pay the credits back.

Georgia was granted such credits, as well. Actually Georgia received a larger amount. So were Armenia and other nations. However, the European Union and particularly its Economic Commission resolutely demanded Azerbaijan pay the credits back. We tried to extend the payment period. We tried to prove there were mistakes when Azerbaijan received the credit, since some people did not understand that it had to be paid. But in vain. Last year we had to pay USD 57 million to the Economic Commission of the European Union.

Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani economy and the Cabinet of Ministers were run by irresponsible persons in 1993-1995. This is why such mistake was made back then.

When I was reported about the matter, I repeteadly asked why it had happened so. Perhaps we might have not accepted those credits. Our situation was and would be hard anyway. However, now we paid USD 57 million. We had such an affair with the European Union.

It`s true that understanding our situation and seeing we paid that credit back, the European Union decided to provide Azerbaijan with an assistance worth 30 million ecu. It will cover the period of 1998-2000. Of course, it can not replace USD 57 million. Yet, we should appreciate it. The European Union has a positive attitude towards Azerbaijan and appreciated the credit payment of Azerbaijan. We are also aware that our neighboring nations have not paid their credits, but have extended the payment period.

We are explained Azerbaijan is financially able to pay it back, while the other countries are not. It also shows Azerbaijan controls its economy with its own means, since the USA deprived Azerbaijan of any assistance according to the Section 907. The neighboring nations like Armenia and Georgia receive, USD 100 million from the USA every year, while Azerbaijan does not.

In 1994 the EU provided more financial assistance to other countries than it granted Azerbaijan. We paid the credit back, but those countries received payment extension.

I just wanted to inform you. Because both you and our public need to know everything. All the measures that are being taken in our economy are obvious. I think we run our business very professionally.

This is a part of our cooperation with the EU and the Economic Commission. A lot has been and will be done via assistance of the EU within the framework of TRACECA. It does not involve only Azerbaijan. It implies the modernization of the Azerbaijani part of the transport line for implementation of TRACECA. For instance, the Poylu bridge was restored thanks to USD 2 million granted by the European Union. There is renovation in railways, too. That money is not a credit, but it is spent for renovation. The EU provides an aid in restoration process in liberated territories, for example, in liberated settlements and villages of Fuzuli district. The Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov is present here. How much is the EU aid worth?

Abid Sharifov: 7 million ecu. They have already allocated 4 million and they are going to allocate the rest 3 million. That money is being spent for restoration of the liberated villages of Fuzuli.

Artur Rasizade: In general, the total assistance of the EU to Azerbaijan has been worth USD 225 million so far.

Heydar Aliyev: Is the credit which was paid back also included?

Artur Rasizade: No, this is the direct assistance to Azerbaijan.

Abbas Abbasov: The EU has provided an aid worth USD 16 million only to our agrarian sector.

Artur Rasizade: The total assistance is worth USD 225 million.

Abid Sharifov: Mr. President, the EU has invested 7,650 million ecu as grant in Azerbaijan within the framework of TRACECA. Over 6 million ecu of this investment has been spent for building and restoring bridges and border posts, renovating the Baku port.

Heydar Aliyev: I repeat once again. Our cooperation with the European Union is successful. These aids are being and will be spent for solving Azerbaijan`s problems. As a result of this successful cooperation, the topic on development of TRACECA and restoration of the historical Great Silk Road have been discussed in the EU Economic Commission a few times and the necessity of organizing such a conference has been emphasized. I have said it at the conference. Since TRACECA was launched, the working groups have met several times and discussed the implementation of the programme. However, the conference took place a result of the necessity of adoption a new program based on TRACECA. Thus, the preparation was done and the location of the conference was discussed.

Azerbaijan took an active part in the preparation process. It took a few months, perhaps even a year to prepare the main document, which is the major multilateral treaty on international transport on development of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor and its technical appendices. 

When the necessity of organizing this conference emerged, the discussions on its location were also conducted.

Of course, each state, participating in TRACECA, wished to organize the conference and proposed its candidacy. We also proposed to hold this conference in Azerbaijan.

No doubt, we realized how responsible it was, when we submitted our bid. While Azerbaijan has a lot of problems, including the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, holding such a great international conference in Azerbaijan creates many duties and a big responsibility for us. Realizing all this, we submitted our bid. So did other countries. This matter was discussed several times. Both the European Commission and most of the participating nations of TRACECA approved Azerbaijan`s proposal on conference. Till the adoption of the decision, there were discussions on where to organize this conference.

At last, our proposal was accepted. It was decided to hold this international conference in Baku, Azerbaijan. Afterwards, we started our preparation. It lasted long. But in order to carry out a more organized preparation, I issued a special decree and instituted a commission on organizing the conference. The commission has been chaired by the Prime Minister Artur Rasizade. Most of the people, who are present at this meeting, are the members of the commission. I noted that the commission did a good job and prepared the conference well. Having consulted the European Commission on holding the conference, I, the President of Azerbaijan, sent special letters to heads of states and governments of the countries, whose participation was necessary, and invited them to take part at the conference.

Those countries are participants of restoration of the Silk Road. The composition of those countries was approved by the European Commission. But they were invited by the President of Azerbaijan. Obviously, our invitations were accepted and 32 nations participated at the international conference. We sent invitation to international organizations, as well. Delegations of all 13 international organizations that had been invited took part at the conference.

That was a big international conference, indeed. The participants were representatives of the nations lying along and interested in the Silk Road. Delegations of the United States, Japan, China, European countries, Caucasus, Central Asia, Mongolia and some Asian nations were present at the conference.

There were high ranking delegations. Nine nations were represented by presidents, one – by prime minister. Other delegations were led by ministers, deputy ministers, and high ranking officials. Only the number of members of delegations was 180 people. Moreover, there were a number of people accompanying delegations.

210 reporters from 20 countries also took part at the conference. They were representatives of huge agencies and televisions of the world.

Almost all international organizations were represented at the conference. Delegations of the UN, OSCE, EU, CIS, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, Economic Cooperation Organization, World Bank, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Bank, and many transport organizations participated at the conference.

Each delegation took an active part at the conference. The leaders of all 32 delegations delivered speeches at the conference.

The chairs of delegations of 13 international organizations also made speeches. You are aware of those speeches. The entire conference was being broadcast live by the Azerbaijani television. I guess you watched and listened to it. The verbatim record of the conference was published by our papers.

I can shortly note that the discussions at the conference showed that everyone shares the same opinion: each country should set communication lines in order to restore the historical Silk Road. The EU will further patronize it as it has already been doing. All the participants of the conference appreciated the initiative of the European Union and Azerbaijan (the Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze also joined our initiative), and emphasized the importance of the conference and the issues discussed there.

Some heads of states and governments sent me special letters regarding the conference. The President of the People`s Republic of China Jiang Zemin, the Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Obuti, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair, the President of Kazakhstan Mr. Nazarbayev sent letters to me since they could not participate at the conference. The letters were submitted to me. They will be published in press.

Other delegations which were not led by heads of states and governments also expressed their attitude, opinions and proposals of their heads of states and governments on the conference.

I think that the conference reached its goals and became a historical event in international arena. All the speakers noted it at the conference.

Three documents were signed at the conference. They are the “Major multilateral treaty on international transport on development of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor” and its technical appendices, the Baku declaration and the final official information of the international conference on restoration of the historical Silk Road. They were signed differently. The first document was signed by 14 countries. The Baku declaration was signed by many countries. The third document, which is the final official information, was signed by delegation of 29 nations and the European Union.

These documents are of great importance. We will carry out necessary measures for implementing these documents. My decree on outcomes of the conference and the duties of the Azerbaijan Republic is being prepared. That decree will determine all the activities to be carried out by our government and state bodies. Soon I will issue this decree.

Today I can proudly say that Azerbaijan, as an independent nation, organized and secured a big international conference in Baku.

As I declared at the end of the conference, the decision of holding the conference in Baku is a trust and attention to Azerbaijan by the EU and TRACECA participants. We should appreciate it. Its importance is that, as a result of the cooperation with Azerbaijan, the EU demonstrated Azerbaijan`s right to organize a conference and adopted a decision on conference`s taking place in Azerbaijan. Other countries also accepted the necessity of organizing this conference in Azerbaijan and took an active part at the conference.

At the conference nine countries, including Azerbaijan, were represented by presidents, one nation - by prime minister. It means out of 32 delegations 10 were led by heads of states and governments. It proves an immense importance other countries and their heads of states attach to the conference and Azerbaijan.

We tried to meet international standards when organizing the conference. It is a pleasure to say that we succeeded. I and other officials of Azerbaijan have taken part in international assemblies, summits and conferences since Azerbaijan declared its independence. When preparing for the conference we tried to effectively use the experience of organizing international conferences, and wanted the Baku conference to reach the level of meetings we had taken part at. I can say we succeeded.

The effective and organized preparation of the conference from the arrival of delegation in Baku through their departure was obvious, indeed. All delegations, their chairs and members highly evaluated the organizing of the conference, accommodation of guests, the service, the organized measures, and the use of modern technical means.

Naturally, it was not easy. We had carried out preparation measures and had done a lot to accommodate the delegations properly, set normal conditions for them during their stay, and make the location of the conference meet international standards. 

In terms of this, the Gulustan palace was very useful for us. The Gulustan palace, which was built in 1980, has been serving Azerbaijan for 18 years. As a person, who initiated its building I am very proud that this palace serves Azerbaijan`s independence. Even prior to the conference. But for organizing the conference the Gulustan palace was thoroughly renovated. It was necessary, because the building constructed 18 years ago needed a renovation. The building was renovated and modernized. At the same time, new rooms and departments were built for organizing the conference. It allowed the conference participants, people accompanying them and reporters to work effectively.

Today I can claim the great hall of the Gulustan palace did not only distinguish conference halls in other countries, but even looked more gorgeous than some of them. It was a historical event.

We don’t have only the Gulustan palace, but a lot of modern hotels to accommodate a lot of guests in Baku. That was useful, too.

As you know, we purchased vehicles that meet modern requirements regarding the conference. They were used, as well. All these demonstrated the current state of Azerbaijan. The modernization of the VIP section of our airport also surprised. But I would like it to be better than that.

Our friend, the Turkish president Suleyman Demirel, when departing, expressed his satisfaction and appraisal. He said the VIP section meets all modern requirements. I told him we construct another airport, which is going to be inaugurated next year. I told him I would invite him to the inauguration and everything at the new airport, including the VIP section, would be better.

Everyone sees the airport, which is being built. I told him that we established that airport in 1981. Back then I was trying to establish a new airport in Azerbaijan which would meet modern requirements. By my decision, projects were elaborated in Moscow and our architects worked. We looked through the projects several times. We established it in 1981. It was not constructed even though many years have passed. Since I launched the construction I have to end it even after a long break. We will inaugurate the new airport in 1999.

Azerbaijan is tied to the whole world via airlines now. It is important for all the people, including Azerbaijani citizens and foreigners, who use these airlines can enjoy a modern airport. The renovation and modernization of the VIP section positively surprised our guests.

You have watched speeches by delegations on TV. Most of the speakers appreciated the initiative of organizing the conference in Azerbaijan. They were their official statements. In talks with me, other delegations, our officials, all the guests expressed their satisfaction with organizing the conference in a high level. It is also important.

We passed a hard exam. A high level international conference took place in Azerbaijan in September 1998. All the people who participated and were involved in the conference did their best and the conference was held successfully.

Undoubtedly, all these measures were led by certain people. As I noted, a commission had been established. The commission instituted by my decree in June has been chaired by the Prime Minister Artur Rasizade. All the commission members led by the chairman worked a lot. Therefore, I thank the commission chairman Artur Rasizade and all its members. I want particularly to note the commission member Abid Sharifov`s efforts. Because besides the Prime Minister, Abid Sharifov was in charge of TRACECA in our Cabinet of Ministers, took part at the meetings of the working group, and kept direct touch with the EU. I appreciate his activity.

Of course, each of the commission members has secured their own field of activity. I thank each of them. Besides them, the officials of the Presidential Administration worked a lot. The executive power of Baku did its best as a commission member. Our law enforcement bodies were effective in securing the security of the conference and public safety. The people, who accompanied the delegations also did their job greatly.

Everyone, who was invited to this meeting had taken part in carrying out these measures. Thus, I thank everyone, who participated in preparing and holding the conference and congratulate them on successful conference.

Organizing the conference in Azerbaijan was a historical event for our country. We know our history very well, so we can say that such a historical conference was the first event in our long history. It`s true that many big measures took place in Azerbaijan in past years, especially during the 1960-80s. Most of them were held in the frames of the Soviet countries. Some international measures took place in Azerbaijan with the participation of other socialistic nations or international worker movement or communist movement. None of them was held in a state level.

If we look at the history, we can say it was the first great international conference in the history of the Azerbaijan Republic. We should highly evaluate it as a great achievement of Azerbaijan.

The organizing of the international conference in Azerbaijan demonstrates strengthening, development and international recognition of Azerbaijan`s independence. It is the symbol of our independence and sovereignity. As an independent nation we hosted delegation of 32 countries and launched a new program on restoration of the historical Silk Road that covers a large territory of the world. It is a historical event. Every patriotic Azerbaijani can feel proud today. Because this is the fame of our country.

Since Azerbaijan gained its independence, we have been pursuing a long hard way, which is still uneasy today. Our first duty is to earn Azerbaijan’s worldwide recognition. This is the main task for every newly independent state. But it is a more important task for us. Because by the time when we declared our independence Azerbaijan had been in war with Armenia for three years. Armenia and the Armenian diaspora in the world blamed Azerbaijan for this conflict. Almost all the countries of the world had got a negative opinion on Azerbaijan. Even in Moscow and in the Soviet Union most people thought Azerbaijan was guilty for the outbreak of the Karabakh conflict.

Just remember how some Azerbaijanis here emphasized this opinion. What correspondence was conducted in Moscow in 1988? Why did the conflict break out? As if the Azerbaijani authorities, and especially Heydar Aliyev, who was repressed and isolated back then had oppressed the Armenians in Azerbaijan and had a negative attitude towards Nagorno Karabakh. As if Nagorno Karabakh could not develop within Azerbaijan and the Armenias who were fed up wanted to join Armenia. As if there was a negative attitude and it was all Heydar Aliyev`s fault.

You remember those articles and speeches. Not only did our enemies in Moscow, but also some Azerbaijanis here repeated it as well. The then Azerbaijani authorities said it from tribunes in Moscow. Whom did they serve? They libelled our people in order to reach their amibitions and goals.

Back then I informed several times that all that information was wrong. I disclosed documents that showed Nagorno Karabakh developed three times more than Azerbaijan in general did. In all periods, starting from the 1920s, including the 1970s. However, no one took statistics into consideration. They needed to blame Azerbaijan and they did. So the Armenian diaspora spread the idea about Azerbaijan`s fault in this conflict in Moscow, Soviet Union and worlwide.

Since Azerbaijan gained its independence we have been trying to remove this negative attitude, and demonstrate Azerbaijan as a free, independent, civilized nation. Not as the Armenian diaspora claims. They claim the “Azerbaijanis are savage and nomads, not a nation”. Have you forgotten this? This kind of articles were published everywhere. They insulted us, the Azerbaijanis. This idea was widely spread in international arena.

Thanks to our policy, pursued in the last 5 years, the measures carried out, a number of meetings, visits to foreign countries, meeting with delegations that visit Azerbaijan, speeches at international organizations, the attitude towards Azerbaijan has changed.

When the guests left after the conference on October 8, I came to the Presidential palace in the evening, where I met the Japanese representatives. He had asked me to accept him, as he was going to leave for Japan that night. He wanted to present me the letter of the Japanese Premier Mr. Obuti. He participated in the meetings I had during my formal visit to Japan in February. He told me about his impressions and the attitude of the Japanese public towards Azerbaijan. He said everyone in Japan was impressed of my endless meetings and negotiations there, and they thought not a single head of state that ever visited Japan agitated his/her country so much. It was his words. I do not say it to praise myself. I do not need it.

Yes, they did not know us in Japan. We earned Azerbaijan’s recognition in Japan. Many Japanese companies operate in Azerbaijan. Others also want to come. It was said to me by the chairman of the Japanese delegation on September 8.

This conference concluded the measures that had been carried out. Besides our activity during our visits to different countries or while foreign heads of states or delegations visit Azerbaijan or while our representatives go to other countries and international organizations, now delegation of 32 nations and 13 international organizations gathered in Azerbaijan and witnessed the current realities of our country. It was a good way to show Azerbaijan as an independent nation and we did it. That conference was a means which served and reconfirmed Azerbaijan`s independence and we could organize it.

Of course, any impression is being and will be spread. As I noted, 210 reporters from 20 countries took part at the conference. The articles about are being and will be published in many foreign newspapers. It will continue. Azerbaijan is displayed to the world as a free, independent, and democratic state.

I would like to tell one fact, too. We are developing market economy. The presidents who visited Baku were accomodated in the office-hotel complex in the center of the city. Together with the Turkish President Mr. Suleyman Demirel, we inaugurated that office-hotel complex. It is a result of private business. It is a real outcome of market economy and free enterpreneurship in Azerbaijan.

On September 7 I gave a reception to heads of states and chairpersons of the delegations. It was held in Baku Entertainment Center constructed by private sector near Ramstore. It is also a result of private sector in Azerbaijan. You are aware of it. I was with the presidents who were on visit in Azerbaijan. They stayed at that hotel. They were surprised when they learnt that hotel and the center where the reception was held belong to non-state private sector. I mean the presidents of member-states of CIS. Our friend Suleyman Demirel was very glad that our private sector was emerging and Turkish construction companies take part in establishment of this private sector. It is also impressive that Azerbaijan is pursuing market economy.

It is not a simple case. A 16-storey office-hotel has been constructed in the center of Baku. By the private sector. It is a practical result of market economy. It is a proof for foreign investment that there are favorable conditions in Azerbaijan. Every businessman can invest in Azerbaijan and achieve effective results. It was also displayed.

At last, the current view of Baku, the mood and state of people. I want to recall the words by my friend Suleyman Demirel. I guess he stayed on the 16th floor. There was a good view of Baku and the Caspian Sea from there. He said he saw some people go early in the morning. Later the number of people and children gradually increased, they went to park and had a rest there. He said he`d told people near him that this is the stability created in Azerbaijan by Heydar Aliyev – people can walk and rest easily. He observed everything and shared his impressions with me.

But that was not the only impression. Everyone was impressed. The development of democracy and market economy in Azerbaijan is obvious. The current view of Baku and Azerbaijan was obvious for everyone who visited the country.

We demonstrated Azerbaijan. We showed both the attitude towards Azerbaijan, which was actual 5-6 years ago and the current opinion about Azerbaijan. While the first attitude was created abroad based on different libels, the second opinion is based on current realities and view of Azerbaijan, as well as political situation, stability, and infrastructure. 

You know that Baku has always been a beautiful city. I recall Suleyman Demirel`s words again. He said to our delegation what he saw in Baku back in 1991 and what Azerbaijan`s situation is now. Yes, a person who visited Azerbaijan in 1991 can compare the past impressions with the current situation. It is obvious.

The conference gave us such a big opportunity. Using it we should further demonstrate, spread and agitate Azerbaijan`s realities everywhere. It is necessary for us to be recognized. We also need it to remove negative opinions on Azerbaijan created because of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The conference was a good way for it.

The conference and its outcomes should further be analyzed and agitated. Another importance of the preparation for conference was that the Azerbaijani public learnt about the historical Silk Road. Perhaps some people were aware of that, but now the Silk Road was revealed to our public.

The preparation for conference led to many scientific conferences in Azerbaijan dedicated to the Silk Road. Scientific researches are being conducted and books are being published. There is the magazine called “Ipek yolu” (“Silk Road”), which has already been published twice. A relevant newspaper is being published. They were published in English and submitted to delegations. The department on humanitarian policy of our Presidential Administration prepared a good book dedicated to the Silk Road. The book that contains historical maps and materials was also submitted to delegations.

I said to you that we need to enhance copies of the book and spread them. Because they include historical maps of Azerbaijan and the Silk Road. They may be known to our scientists and researchers, but not to our public. But we need to know it. Because a new program was launched and will be implemented for many years.

A lot had been done prior to the conference. But I think, now after the conference our scientists and researchers can do more, write books and scientific works, research this topic thoroughly, and analyze the outcomes of the conference. Therefore, the outcomes of the conference and signed documents should be disseminated among the public regularly. I suggest these measures will be reflected in the documents that are being prepared. I demand our relevant scientific bodies and state agencies be seriously involved in these matters.

The Baku international conference dedicated to restoration of the historical Silk Road launched a new program for the 21st century. There are several new programs regarding the changes that have happened last 10 years. Some of them are regional, while others cover several regions. Each of them has a unique significance. 

We initiated a new program with the EU. It implies the connection of Europe and Asia and the importance and role of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus in it. I suggest the program will expand and develop in the 21st century. Heading to the 21st century, we participate in launching of a new program that is important for our country, our region and humankind. We are also organizers of the conference dedicated to it. We need to show our role further.

One of the outcomes of the conference is that a permanent secretariat was set up for implementing the program. It was decided to locate permanent secretariat in Baku. I must say it was not easy to decide it. Because other participating countries also wished the secretariat to be located in their territory. There is no need to explain the importance of this decision. But the countries that appreciated our efforts and signed the document, agreed to institute the secretariat and locate it in Baku, Azerbaijan. This is a big trust in us as a conclusion of the conference. Thus, we have taken a big responsibility on implementation of this program.

There are many programs like this. The Black Sea basin countries have the Economic Cooperation Organization, which secretariat is situated in Istanbul. It is natural. Because this organization was established by the initiative of the Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel in 1992. There is the Economic Cooperation Organization, which secretariat is located in Tehran. It is also known. There are many other organizations, which secretariats are situated in different countries. But the secretariat of the organization implementing the program on the Great Silk Road and connecting Europe and Asia is situated in Azerbaijan. I repeat again that it is a big trust in us. It created opportunities for us to make our efforts in implementing this program. We should appreciate it and realize the trust.

So, a big international conference took place in Azerbaijan as a result of our cooperation with the EU, the countries involved in TRACECA and our initiatives. We now see its results.

Today I congratulate you and the entire Azerbaijani people on the occassion of this historical event. I hope we can work effectively to implement this program, contribute to the integration process between Europe and Asia and reconfirm the significant role of Azerbaijan in European-Asian cooperation.

I am confident that we will demonstrate the independence and sovereignity of Azerbaijan, the importance of establishing a democratic, legal and secular state in Azerbaijan and advance Azerbaijan as a free and independent state.

This is what I intend to say to you. The main goal of this meeting was to deliver my suggesions regarding the outcomes of the international conference. Do you have anything to say? If yes, please. Any questions? Anything you didn`t understand? Is everything clear?