Speech of the Azerbaijan president Heydar Aliyev at the first session of a Chief Committee on "Contract of century", in the Azerbaijan History Museum - January 24, 1995

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Dear visitors!

Today the practical work on the realization of the big contract of a century is starting at last. It is the oil contract which was prepared for several years and was signed. The negotiations held on the signing of this contract, the done spadework and all the processes prior to its signing, we can say resolutely once again that it was not smooth and easy. This historical event is a result of a laborious work and at the same time a work carried out persistently.

Azerbaijan is the country of oil. In ancient times, our country was named "Land of fires", and we are proud of this name. It is known that from the second half of ХIX century probably, for the first time in the world, an oil production started in our country. The petroleum industry of Azerbaijan has a great history. It has undergone many important stages. When the oil was put on the industrial method of extraction, the oil companies of foreign countries operating here, conducted a teamwork in the field of oil extracting and refining. Later the activity of these companies in Azerbaijan was suspended and the petroleum industry was nationalized by the Soviet state. Extracted oil for long years was used for provision of the needs of the Soviet Union.

Three years ago, our people have gained its independence and national freedom. Azerbaijan people, the Azerbaijan state became absolute owners of its riches. All this created an opportunity to use the oil deposits of Azerbaijan freely as the Azerbaijan state considers it necessary. It is known that Azerbaijan oilmen in the field of oil extracting have a wide experience and technical potential both in scientific, technical and practical work. Oil is being extracted in the Caspian Sea for already more than 45 years as a result of intense work and the vigorous activity of the Azerbaijan scientists, engineers, geologists, oilmen and skilled workers.

All this has created a fine basis for the use of the riches, including the oil deposits being its most valuable property of the Azerbaijan state. But at the same time, for an effective utilization of these oil deposits at present stage we consider it also necessary to cooperate with the oil companies of the world having wide experience and more potential. For this reason, more than three years there were held negotiations for joint exploitation of oil deposits in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea with large oil companies of foreign countries. We should note with a feeling of great satisfaction, that notwithstanding these negotiations were difficult, they ended successfully and big oil contract on joint exploitation of oil deposits has been signed.

The negotiations conducted more than three years with the major oil companies of the world on the use of oil deposits, constantly were in the center of attention of Azerbaijan and, it is possible to say, of the world community. The big interest was constantly shown to a preparation of this contract and carrying on the negotiations. Our people and the public expected the end of these negotiations and the signing of the contract with the great hope. However, in some circles of world community, there were forces whose attitudes were rather jealous and negative to it. In every possible way they put obstacles to the preparation and signing of the contract. But the will of the independent Azerbaijan state and our cooperation with oil companies of foreign countries established on a sound basis, eliminated of all these obstacles. And, at last, on September 20, 1994 the oil contract was signed. But soon after that, some circles in foreign countries made attempts to prevent the realization of this document and other attacks were undertaken as well. All this is known. We have prevented all this. While the contract was prepared, I was confident that we could prevent all these handicaps, attacks, pressures, give them worthy repulse, and we did it. The contract already is in the force, and went down to history as a "Contract of century".

The signed contract was discussed in parliament of Azerbaijan, adopted by National Assembly. On December 2, 1994, I signed the special law on the ratification of this contract. Thus, political, economic and legal basis have been created for practical implementation of the contract. Now there should be already a practical work. Highly estimating the conducted work, earlier today I want to express confidence that this contract should already immediately be put into practice. Special working groups, chief committee under the contract were formed for this purpose and other organizational measures for carrying out of practical works have been taken. I approve all this and I congratulate you on the occasion of the beginning of practical works and all the people who henceforth will work in this contract.

It is necessary to note that though the process of preparation of the contract has passed a heavy, complicated way, its realization will be even heavier. Very intense, important activities are ahead. I am sure that the representatives and heads of a consortium, the companies - participants of the contract will provide the consecutive, immediate solution of these questions together with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan.

The contract is intended for the period of 30 years. Undoubtedly, the first years will be heavy and difficult. The Azerbaijan party and I am personally as a President are especially interested in the work of the initial years. I think that the program of the works intended for the first years, should be executed ahead of time. Today you will determine here the program and the budget for 1995, conduct discussions and will accept decisions on the forthcoming objectives. I would wish the work intended for the first year of 1995 to be at a high level and necessary measures to be taken for their daily and monthly implementation in the consecutive order.

You know that even now the talks around this contract are being continued in some circles, in the press and in the different countries. Such views are spread that though the contract was signed, the western companies supposedly will not make haste to implement it. Some people say that the realization of the contract in the first years - in 1995-1998 will not bring significant results for the economy of Azerbaijan. Though these forces could not prevent the signing of the contract, they want to deliver a blow to its implementation. I hope that the western oil companies, heads of the oil companies included in a consortium, will not deny their efforts to answer all slanders, lies and the forces opposing this contract. Taking all this into account, I ask you to make very exact program for the first 3-4 years on the implementation of the contract and take all necessary measures for its accomplishment prior to the time planned.

The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, our oilmen and our scientists pledge very big and honorable task in the realization of this contract. I want to express confidence that the oilmen, scientists of Azerbaijan, responsible persons of the State Oil Company, all the people who have joined in realization of this document, will once again realize what great value has the contract both for the present and for the future of Azerbaijan.

Today, once again I want to note that while preparing this contract, its signing and when signing it as the President in order to make the contract to come into legal effect, we thought of the present and the future of Azerbaijan. And everyone should know that we want the contract to begin to work with these intentions and wishes. Implementation of the contract has great value for great changes in the forthcoming years in the economy of our republic, which is now in a position of crisis. Realization of the contract has at the same time great value for the future perspectives of development of Azerbaijan. When we signed it, we also thought of a life of the future generations of Azerbaijan. The works conducted for the realization of the contract will also affect the other spheres of petroleum industry of the Azerbaijan Republic.

The subsoil of the Azerbaijan land possess many undeveloped oil and gas resources. In the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, there are also other rich oil and gas deposits discovered by our scientists-geologists. When implementing this contract and getting experience, we shall take necessary measures for making use of these oil deposits both on sea and land. We are ready to cooperate with the oil companies of foreign countries for the solution of these problems as well. From this point of view, experience of realization of the contract will be even more important for our future activity. I think that the oil companies which are included in the consortium, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, will organize the work well taking all these perspectives into consideration.

I heartily congratulate the representatives of the oil companies of foreign countries - the participants of a consortium who are present here on the occasion of beginning of implementation of this contract. I assure them that on the part of the state and on my part, as the President of Azerbaijan, its realization will constantly be under my personal inspection, and also necessary measures will be taken to provide the implementation of these works in proper time.

I congratulate the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, its leadership, oilmen and our people in connection of the beginning of practical implementation of this contract.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear visitors! I wish all of you success in this important and significant activity. May it be useful, successful!