Speech of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with the representatives of business circles held at the Chamber of Commerce of Poland - August 27, 1997

Distinguished Mr. President!

Ladies and gentlemen!

Good morning!

First of all, I greet you and I am very pleased for the given possibility to meet the Polish businessmen and presidents of companies at the Chamber of Commerce within my official visit to the Republic of Poland.

As you know, I am on a visit to your country at invitation of President Kwasnevsky. This is the first ever official visit of the President of sovereign Azerbaijan to Poland. I would like to note that yesterday we had a very fruitful from exchange of views on Polish-Azerbaijani relations.

We held useful negotiations, signed very important inter-state and intergovernmental documents. Both President Kwasnevsky and I consider it as a historical event in the life of Azerbaijan and Poland. A new stage in our mutual relations is beginning, we established legal basis for the cooperation in all the spheres.

The document signed by the Polish and Azerbaijani presidents - Declaration on further the development of friendship and cooperation - has a great importance. This declaration lays basis of our cooperation in all the spheres. Of course, economic cooperation occupies a very important place in this document and in other contracts signed by us.

I think that there are great possibilities for the expansion and deepening our economic cooperation not used by us in the past. Yesterday in the evening we recalled with President Kwasnevsky the facts proving the existence of economic and commercial relationships between Poland and Azerbaijan in the course of many centuries. For example, we recalled that handmade beautiful carpets, cotton, silk, and other goods exported from Azerbaijan to Poland in the Middle Ages - in the XV and XVI centuries. Many goods were exported from Poland to Azerbaijan as well. This proves the existence of our economic and commercial relations in the past.

Unfortunately, our relations have not yet reached the previous level at present though the chances of Poland and Azerbaijan are much greater than they were several centuries ago. Therefore, one of my goals in the visit to Poland is to give an incentive to the economic cooperation and commercial relations between Poland and Azerbaijan.

There are all conditions and possibilities for it. Poland has freed itself from many fetters, these fetters were present when Poland was an independent and sovereign country, especially after the World War II. Nowadays, Poland makes life, it determines itself which way, how to organize its economy, how to conduct trade relations and whom to trade with. Of course, the present situation completely differs from the one which, existed 10-15 years ago. I am aware of that period, too; therefore, I am speaking about it.

Azerbaijan gained its independence in1991; finally it became an independent, sovereign country after many decades and centuries. It determines its destiny independently, it settles its problems by itself, it determines with whom to establish relations. The complete independence and freedom, which characterize the main features of the public and state structure of Poland and Azerbaijan, enable us to develop our cooperation in all the spheres, including economic and commercial spheres.

As to the manner and form of this cooperation, this is not a difficult work, of course. We must simply take necessary steps in this direction. Yesterday I said that Azerbaijan has great economic potentials. You are aware that Azerbaijan is an ancient oil and gas country. Azerbaijan is living the second stage of its oil and gas developments.

In the recent three years we have signed a number of big contracts with the leading transnational oil companies of the world on joint developments in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea.

Owing to the efforts of Azerbaijan, Caspian Sea basin discloses its resources, big oil and gas potentials and attracts the attention of all the countries of the world. Some 17 oil companies from 11 countries take part in the contracts signed.

According to estimations, the oil resources in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian exceed many billion tons. There are great resources also in other sectors of the Caspian Sea, for example in Kazakh and Turkmen sectors. Complex measure are necessary for the development of oil and gas deposits but also for the transportation of them to the world market.

The Eurasian transport corridor lies through our region. It links Central Asian region with Europe via the Caspian Sea and Azerbaijani a long the ancient Great Silk Road which once linked the East and West. This is indeed a sphere which may evoke interest in Poland, for the Polish business and Polish entrepreneurs. A vast chemical industry exists in the sphere of oil and gas in Azerbaijan. I think that we can cooperate in this sphere as well.

The industry of Azerbaijan is diversive. We have ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, machine building and a vast textile industry. Therefore, we can find great possibilities for cooperation.

The agrarian industry of Azerbaijan is also divisive. As many centuries ago, we still produce and export cotton. There is silk in Azerbaijan, too. The carpets exported here many centuries ago are weaved in Azerbaijan at present as well, even better carpets are produced now.

Wine industry, cultivation of grapes occupy a very important place in the agrarian sector. Azerbaijan is reach in fruits, vegetables and other natural resources. We need simply to beg in our cooperation and in the process of the work, we will find many possibilities. I do not want to forestall the events and speak about these possibilities.

Taking into consideration all this, I included to my delegation the president of the State Oil Company and that of the Chemical Industry Company. They are here now. Therefore, the Polish companies have the possibility to communicate, establish relations and negotiate with them. The most important for me know is that this is the beginning of our active cooperation and this is the first acquaintance between Poland and Azerbaijan after gaining independence. As I said before, this is the first visit of the Azerbaijani President to Poland. Therefore, this is the beginning and I think that very good ideas can be realized in future.

I would like to say that great changes are taking place in the economy of Azerbaijan. We have broke with the economic system existing in the socialist period in our country. Actually, the economy of Azerbaijan is organized on the principles of the market economy. We conduct economic reforms in all spheres, we attract foreign investments , we stated before and I state today once more that the doors of Azerbaijan are open to the world for foreign investments.

We are conducting agrarian reforms. In conformity with the law on land the land is given to the ownership of villagers, a wide-scale privatization of property is conducted everywhere, specific measures for the liberalization of foreign trade have been taken and favorable conditions for entrepreneurship and private initiative have been created. As a result of all this we succeeded to cease the stagnation existing in the industrial and economic spheres since 1989. Last year we achieved some progress in all the spheres of the economy, this progress was more distinct in the past months of this year. We succeeded to stop inflation. If the inflation was 160% in 1994, last year it was 6%, and this year is zero.

The rate of the national currency - manat is strengthening. Last year its rate increased by 10% in comparison with the US dollar. The GDP of Azerbaijan increased by 5,8 % in the past months of this year, some progress is observed in industrial and rural spheres. The turnover of foreign trade increased by 30%. In the foreign trade turnover we have achieved positive balance ink for the first time. The state income formed of taxes is realized normally, in conformity with a plan. We have not problems in this sphere.

Of course, we have economic difficulties. You know that as a result of the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, the armed forces of Armenia occupied some 20% of our territory. As a result of this over 1 million people were driven out from their home, most of them are living in tents, in critical conditions. All this complicates the economic situation, especially the solution of social problems, and of course, it increases the number of the unemployed. Despite this, we have succeeded to achieve some progress in the social sphere, too. The salary and the living standard of the people have been improved. We are actively cooperating with such financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. We are optimist, and we think that the realization of the economic reforms and other measures will provide the sustainable improvement of living standard of the people, and consequently, it will stimulate the economic growth.

As I mentioned before, we are attracting foreign investments to Azerbaijan. I would like to say that we have adopted many laws which create a favorable condition for foreign investment in Azerbaijan.

I think that all this is a good basis for our cooperation. Therefore, by giving you this brief information I would like to say that we want to establish a solid basis for the economic cooperation between Poland and Azerbaijan.

I express my gratitude for the meeting in the Chamber of Commerce of Poland and I hope that this chamber will play an important role in the establishment of economic relations between our countries.

Thank you for the attention. 


Anjey Arendarsky: Mr. President, thank you very much for your very interesting speech. I would like to say that we are going to send a delegation on trade affairs to Baku. Mr. President promised us yesterday that he would meet us. Our colleagues - the Azerbaijani businessmen promised that they would prepare appropriate firms, and therefore I invite all who wish to be in this delegation. Mr. President is short of time, you may ask your questions.

Question: Distinguished Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen! I have come from Gdansk. My name is Tadeus Stokovsky, I am ship repair and exporting ship equipment. I will be in Baku for negotiations with armators this Monday. My question is like this: Is there any program of ship repair in Azerbaijan or it depends on armators? I ask you it because you have many ships built in Poland. You need them for the development of your oil production program. I am speaking about tankers and numerous tugboats. Therefore I ask you this question.

Heydar Aliyev: I do not want to answer this question in details. I want to note only that Azerbaijan has many ships in the Caspian Sea. In the Soviet period the navigation in the Caspian Sea was carried out through Baku, many tankers transported oil and oil products. I want to say, that the volume of transportation will increase in the coming years. For example, actually our tankers transport the Kazakh oil from Tengiz oil deposit Baku for its next transportation to the Black Sea by railroad and then to Turkey. Shipping via Eurasian transport corridor is carried out from Krasnovodsk of Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan through the Caspian Sea, too. There is a ferry passage. We have some ferries. All this proves that there are great perspectives for the promotion and development of navigation in Azerbaijan, therefore I shall be glad if you come to Azerbaijan. I think that when you come you may discuss your cooperation in details with the Caspian Shipping Company and other state bodies of Azerbaijan. I can say you in advance that it will be beneficial both for you and for Azerbaijan.

Question: I represent \"Elaktrim\" Group. We construct power stations. I am the second who was given and I will be in Azerbaijan in Tuesday. We have biult many electric stations in Turkey and we want to the move to neighboring country as well. I will go there with a group of Turkish industrialists. We are interested in every thinks connected with electricity - boilers, turbines, crane facilities, armature, cables for the delivery of electricity, as well as equipment for chemical industry. We want to meet and discuss these issues.

Heydar Aliyev: I will be waiting for you in Azerbaijan on Tuesday. Here is our Minister of Economy, please, you can talk to him.

Question: I would like to ask a question. I see here many representatives of fruit processing industry. Our companies, especially large ones show interest in cooperation in this sphere. Can I ask Mister President if we can cooperate in this sphere?

Heydar Aliyev: I spoke about great potentials. We have many fruits, vegetables and growing industry. By the way, many fruits grow in forests and mountainous regions of Azerbaijan. We simply need to discuss this issue more concretely. I think that we will find possibilities for cooperation.

Anjey Arendarski: Thank you, Mr. President. Unfortunately, the visit of Mr. President comes to an end. Mr. President was so kind that gave his consent to sign a Protocol of Intent in his presence. This Protocol is laying the basis for biateral Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It will be signed by the Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan behalf of Poland and by me on our Party.