Speech of Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev in the Summit on regional cooperation of the countries located along the Great Silk Road - September 08, 2000

Dear senator Brownback!

Dear colleagues!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today we are taking part at a very important meeting dedicated to the practical realization of a great program - restoration of Great Silk Road. We, the political figures and politicians, including me, can speak more about the political and economic aspects of this question rather than scientific and technical aspects. It was much told here about this issue and perhaps other speakers would tell also.

Indeed, the Great Silk Way played a great role in the development of the human civilization in the past. Nowadays, in the end of XX century the humankind appealed again to the idea of Great Silk Road, this time it was the idea of restoration of Great Silk Way as a very important transport communication between West and East. In this regard I must say without any exaggeration that we, the countries of South Caucasus and Central Asia took a very active part since the very beginning. The countries of South Caucasus and Central Asia having become independent after collapse of the Soviet Union on the one hand faced many serious problems and on the other hand many possibilities became available for them. For example, for us this is intensive use of energy resources of Caspian Sea and transportation of hydrocarbon raw stuff from Caspian basin to other countries and international markets.

Azerbaijan is the initiator of extraction of abundant oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea. A large contract entitled "Contract of century" was signed in 1994 and about 30 large oil companies were engaged here, working in the Azerbaijani sector of Caspian Sea. In conformity with signed contracts must invest 60 billion US dollars for the realization of this project during 30 years.

We have already constructed 2 pipelines: Baku - Novorossiysk in Russia, Black Sea and Baku-Supsa, a Georgian port on Black Sea from which we export our oil. Moreover, we have taken the final decision on elaboration of the very large Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, 50-60 million tons of oil annually will be exported via this pipeline in future. Of course, we will need other itineraries in future. All this is a part of the Great Silk Way program.

But we don`t limit us to this. I can say without any exaggeration that my friend Mister Eduard Shevarnadze, the President of the Republic of Georgia and Azerbaijani President were the initiators of arrangement of a large international conference on restoration of Great Silk Way, held in Baku on September, 1998.

Representatives of 32 countries, starting from Japan to the last European country, as well as representatives of 14 international organizations attended this conference. We have discussed this issue in details and a document signed by 12 countries, located at the center of the Silk Way, I mean Central Asia, South Caucasus, continued by the European countries, starting with Romania, etc., was adopted.

This conference played its role. I think that may works will be done by the results of this conference in future.

I am pleased to point out that Mister Sam Brownback got down very actively to this issue and overcoming many difficulties he proposed the program of Great Silk Way, elaborated the law for submission the US Senate so that it adopt the law on the issue, which has a crucial importance in general, especially for establishment of the system about which there were many talks here.

We have been supporting senator Sam Brownback and the law was being prepared, we are very pleased that the American Senate has finally approved it. Now, on the basis of this law the work in the sphere of telecommunications and "Silk Sat" program is being carried out.

I greet my old friend, the well known scientist Mister Sagdeyev, who is the author of this large project. I remember his visit to Azerbaijan as well as to other countries a few years ago, in my opinion, he was offering this idea at that time. Now this idea is approved and we are going realize it intensively.

Of course, I welcome the law adopted by American Senate. However, it is with regret that I have to point out the unfairness towards Azerbaijan during discussion of this law at the Congress. Indeed, its is paradoxical that despite of Azerbaijan`s being the initiator of the restoration of Great Silk Way, it was deprived of the aid for the realization of this project on the basis of the 907th Section, adopted by Congress in 1992. This is the discriminative act of the US Congress towards Azerbaijan, adopted on the basis of the subjective opinion of some congressmen claiming the blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan. Although the administration of the United States of America declared repeatedly that this act is discriminative and must be abolished. Unfortunately, no practical measures for this purpose was undertaken. The law, submitted by senator Sam Brownback, envisaged regulations enabling us to evade the 907th section while realization of the bill of the US Senate on Great Silk Way, stating that Azerbaijan enjoys the equal rights in the realization of this project. However, some senators and congressmen took the unfair position and Azerbaijan faced discrimination once again. It became the only country deprived of the aid, which will be rendered according to this bill on behalf of the United States of America to the countries, located along the Great Silk Way.

Of course, it grieves and saddens me. However, we do not lose courage. We keep on supporting this initiative by senator Sam Brownback and the project submitted by the most known scholars of the world. I am still hopeful that senator Sam Brownback will continue his struggle for justice and abolition of the discriminative to Azerbaijan 907th Section.

Azerbaijan is located in central section. Some slides were presented here. Even there one can see that the Caspian Sea in located at the center of the Great Silk Way covered by this project. In its turn, Azerbaijan is located at the most important strategic region of both Caucasus and Caspian Sea, linking Europe to Asia and West to East.

Therefore, it is far and away that the role of Azerbaijan in the realization of this project is very important. We will do our best for fulfillment of our mission. Today I appeal again to the US Congress and the administration of the United States of America for abolition of discriminative towards Azerbaijan 907th Section.

I am very pleased to attend today`s discussion. I greet all of you and wish successes to this project.

Thank you for your attention.