Speech by Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the meeting with Mr. Robert Lanier, Mayor of Houston. Houston, Residence of Mayor, August 1, 1997

Dear Mr. Robert Lanier!

Dear Mr. Robert Lanier!

First of all let me say that I am very pleased with frank hospitality showed to me in Houston, as it was in other places I have visited in the USA.

As you have mentioned already, being very pleased with release of articles dedicated to the meetings I held in White House at the first pages of the newspapers, I state that I highly appreciate my meetings with President Bill Clinton.

In response to your question - \"How do you find Bill Clinton as an interlocutor?\" - I say: I have been meeting with him since 1994. We have met several times so far, but it was our first meeting in White House. From all meetings we had so far I come to conclusion that President Clinton is a talented person and has unique features. He can establish sincere contacts with people very quickly and creates favorable environment for negotiations. I respect him very much. I met him in Madrid in early July. He is very frank, kind and good person. I think that you have a very good president.

I share all you said about support of free commerce by President Clinton, holding by Azerbaijan a strategically very important position and potential of its energy resources to compete with those of Persian Gulf and establishment of long term and beneficial cooperation between Azerbaijan and Texas, including Houston City now and in the future.

President Bill Clinton supports free commerce and liberal economy and I think that he pursues a right political course for its development in the United States as well as in the inter-governmental relationships. The status of US-Azerbaijan relations is very good and it has great future. The basis of it is laid down with joint exploration of oil and gas fields of Azerbaijan with US companies.

Houston is center of petroleum in the United States of America. Azerbaijan, Baku, in particular, it its turn, is considered the center of petroleum of the former Soviet Union and all surrounding countries in general. The oil exploration started in Azerbaijan 150-200 years ago. But the energy resources of Azerbaijan are not still exhausted. There are rich oil and gas fields not only in Azerbaijan but in whole basin of Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijani scholars and scientists have discovered the oil and gas fields in Caspian Sea. The commenced to explore these fields fifty years ago. Your thoughts about availability of big potential of Azerbaijan`s oil fields are true. Azerbaijan, Caspian Sea can compete with many countries and regions possessing rich oil resources.

I think that cooperation established with the United States will enable us to use rationally our oil and gas sources. The majority of big US oil companies are making joint business with us in Azerbaijan.

We have signed a number of very important contracts with \"Chevron\", \"Mobil\", \"Exxon\", \"Amoco\" companies of US in White House. These contracts are related with four rich oil fields in Azerbaijan and they have a great future.

Mr.Lanier, I thank you for presenting me, the Azerbaijani President, the key of Houston City as a sign of a sincere hospitality and I would like to note that it is a beautiful key. It is a great symbol.

As I have mentioned earlier, we have a very good relationships with the United States. The documents we have signed yesterday expand further these relationships, enabling them to become a partnership. Oil companies play a special role in relationships between our countries. Taking into consideration that the majority of American companies are located in Houston I would like to say: you have a special role in the development of US-Azerbaijani relationships. Therefore I arrived to Houston after my visit to New-York and Washington.

Mr.Lanier, you mentioned that according to the former US Deputy Energy Secretary Bill White if taken in degrees, the intellectual level in Baku constitutes 80 degree, in other words 25-30% higher average. Accepting these words with pleasure I would like to say that Mr.White doesn`t exaggerate that. He is my friend and he doesn`t like praise. Bill White doesn`t praise. Is he has said that, it means that there is no exaggeration. Mr.White has been in Baku several times. I would like to reiterate that he is my friend and he has great services in strengthening of relationships between our countries. Bill White participated at the ceremony of signing of the \"Contract of Century\" in September, 1994 and signed this contract. Signing of the contract was a historical stage in our relationships.

It worth to mention that I was leader of Azerbaijan during Soviet Union rule, when Azerbaijan was not an independent country. We have established relationships between Baku and Houston at that time and these cities are twines.

Mr. Lanier, in response to your question about my earlier activity I say: I was head of Azerbaijan during 14 years and next 5 years I was one of the leaders of the Soviet Union. After I retired and I was unemployed for a while. I was head of Nakhchivan, a little autonomy in Azerbaijan during 3 years. Now, this is the 4th year of my being the president of Azerbaijan. My actual position and works I dealing with, are more important than those I have had so far. Azerbaijan became an independent country after my people`s gaining of its national freedom and independence. I am President of this independent Azerbaijan. This is the most remarkable part of my life.

Mr. Lanier, I would like to present you a carpet from Azerbaijan and books on Azerbaijan in memory of our meeting.