Speech of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony of signing of the documents on transportation of crude oil through the territory of Azerbaijan - Georgia - Turkey by means of the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan main export pipeline - Istanbul, palace "Chiraghan", November, 18, 1999

Esteemed Presidents!

Dear friends!

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Today I feel a sense of pride, because an important oil contract so-called the "Contract of the Century", was signed in Baku five years ago, in September of 1994. Azerbaijan, the United States of America, the European countries, Turkey and Russia are included in the Consortium on the joint exploitation of the oil and gas resources of the Caspian sea. Five years after the signing of this contract there have already been concluded the documents on the implementation the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan oil pipeline, embodied in the signing of this contract.

It is well-known that it was a difficult task. A number of problems faced us. While signing the "Contract of the Century", there were also a lot of problems. We met with difficulties. There were a lot of obstacles in the construction of the Baku - Ceyhan oil pipeline. There were those who protested against us. However, it has not broken our will, we have carried this undertaking to its conclusion.

The cooperation between Turkish Republic and Azerbaijan is of great importance in this sense. Therefore, I heartily congratulate the Turkish Republic, Turkish people and the President of Turkish Republic, my dear friend and brother, Suleiman Demirel.

We are constructing this pipeline through the Georgian territory. Certainly, if there were no opportunities of this pipe-lay via the Georgian territory, nothing could be realized. That is why, enormous efforts have been made by the President of Georgia Mr. Shevardnadze for the realization of this problem. I congratulate cordially Georgian people, Georgia and my dear friend and brother, Eduard Shevardnadze.

However, I would like to point out the fact that if there were no support of the United States of America in the realization of these issues, we could not have implemented any of them.

Prior to the signing of the "Contract of the Century", heavy pressures were made for a year on an independent Azerbaijan. They wanted to prevent us. Only due to a support of the United States of America, its President, my esteemed friend Mr. Bill Clinton, we signed the "Contract of the Century" in September of 1994. However, after that we had a lot of hardships. Other countries did not accept the Baku - Ceyhan pipeline. But esteemed Mr. President Bill Clinton was following himself this matter consistently, backing and inspiring us. He was also drawing Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and other Caspian littoral states to this project. Owing to his respect, his authority, and consistent policy in this direction, we have achieved the signing of such an important "Contract of the Century"

Therefore, we all together and I would like to extend our gratitude to the United States of America, to its President, our esteemed friend Mr. Bill Clinton. Dear President Bill Clinton, I heartily congratulate you on this occasion!

Today, Kazakhstan has joined the project of the exploitation of the pipeline, to be more exact, oil pipeline. Kazakhstan will be trasporting the most amount of its crude oil by means of this pipeline.

Both Azerbaijan and Georgia have accepted it. We shall fulfill all the obligations we have undertaken. I think by means of this pipeline Kazakhstan will get great achievements in exporting oil. Therefore, I heartily congratulate Kazakh people and the President of Kazakhstan, my dear friend Nursultan Nazarbaev.

I congratulate and express my respect and honor to Turkish people and its citizens. Within five years whenever I visited Turkey, I was asked a question: "When will there be the Baku - Ceyhan pipeline?" And every time I answered, "That it will be, will be and will be!" Today it has already happened and the agreement has been signed. I heartily congratulate all of you!