Speech of President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange - Chicago, August 5, 1997

Esteemed Mr.President!

Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is a remarkable event for me to visit your impressive exchange in Chicago during my official visit to the United States.

We who grew up under the socialist system were surprised to see such exchanges either on TV screens or movies. We also thought it to be a strange phenomenon. Since we lived in a closed society whose currency and financial system was not linked to the world markets whatsoever, the country that had a distinct financial and economic system, the enterprises such as your exchange seemed quite alien to us.

Only after having gained our independence, becoming a true owner of our country and its natural resources, opening our economy to the world, did we begin comprehending the enormous importance of financial systems and their critical instruments such as exchanges that existed in the United States and other countries of the free world.

We are developing our economy based on the market principles. We are implementing a large program of privatization; we broaden private ownership. All these efforts lead us to the need to reform the financial and banking industries in the Republic of Azerbaijan. That`s why we are trying to benefit from the experience of other countries including the United States. We have done considerable work in this direction, and they bore their fruits. However, we have to do even more. For instance, we have to establish an exchange similar to yours. We have passed laws in this regard, and I have made executive decisions. Now we are working on their implementation. Thus, your experience is important to us. That`s why I decided to visit the Chicago Mercantile Exchange during my stay in the United States.

Thank you for the information you provided. One is truly fascinated while watching the bustle on the floor of your exchange from this vantage point. This picture has been unfamiliar to us. I repeat that when we saw this scene on TV we would look at it as something exotic. But look how important it is. You say that 750 billion US Dollars exchange hands in buy and sell orders in a day at CME. 1 can not imagine that. This is the advantage of your system of free market.

You have said very warm words about the processes in Azerbaijan and myself personally. I thank you. At the same time I am quite content that you know and appreciate the changes that take place in Azerbaijan from here, Chicago. This fact makes me happy. You have spoken about the Azerbaijani natural resources, our economic potential and especially about the abundant oil reserves in our country. You noted corrected that in the past we could not benefit from our natural resources independently as we were incorporated into the larger country like the Soviet Union. Today we are the owners of these resources, and we manage them as we wish. Within a short period, two and half years, we signed 9 major oil contracts, including contracts with large US oil firms. All these agreements have strong prospects. That`s why the information you have just furnished and the huge importance of the exchange are crucial to us.

We have to learn this business from you. We know how to produce oil. We were the ones who discovered all the oil deposits in the Caspian Sea. We are also capable of doing business with major transnational companies, and we have started this process. However, we do not possess the skills to benefit from the works of exchanges yet. You should teach us all the secrets of the trade. After we are equipped with this expertise, we will boost your prices here at the exchange with our huge oil reserves. If you teach us, we can do the work Mexico does. Perhaps, if we cooperate with you, we will achieve even more success. 

The document was taken from the edition \"Together towards the New Century\"