Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the IV Summit of the Organization of Economic Cooperation. Ashgabat - 14 May 1996

Dear Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,

I would like to express my pleasure on the occasion of convening the IV Summit of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and to extend my heartfelt greet­ings to heads of brethren states.

Mr. President, I congratulate you on the occasion of your election as Chairman of our Summit.

I extend my gratitude to the distinguished President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurad Niyazov and the brethren Turkmen people for their warm welcome, generous hospitality, and excellent arrangements made in Ashgabat for the success of this Summit.


History teaches us that no state can achieve eco­nomic progress alone without international cooperation, exchange of experiences and consolidation of efforts and resources. Therefore, one of the basic tenets of Azerbaijan`s foreign policy is to participate actively in the ECO, to have close cooperation with one another, relying upon our historical roots, traditions and com­mon culture.

The Ashgabat Summit finalizes three years of our joint activities, since the expansion of the ECO. This period has been extremely tense yet fruitful. Our Organization has defined its long-term prospects, main directions and concrete areas for cooperation.

Quetta Action Plan, Istanbul Declaration, Almaty Basic Plan and other very important documents were adopted during the past several years. We attach great importance to the implementation of agreed projects aimed at establishing an Aviation and Shipping Company, Trade and Development Bank and Reinsurance Company. The Agreements on Transit Trade and on Simplification of Visa Regulations adopt­ed at the Third Summit in Islamabad will serve to fur­ther deepen of our cooperation.

The connection of the railroad systems of Iran and Turkmenistan is an important step towards unification of transport systems of our countries and is a concrete example of effective cooperation. I would like, particu­larly, to emphasize the importance of cooperation for development of transport and communication systems of the region.

It gives me great pleasure to note that the interna­tional reputation of our Organization, as well as its practical cooperation with other big regional and inter­national organizations, has improved. Adoption of a special resolution at the 50th session of the United Nations General Assembly on cooperation between the UN and ECO is a bright example. We also welcome efforts made by the ECO Secretariat to develop and expand relations with the UN Agencies, Islamic Development Bank, Organization of Islamic Conference, Association of States of Soutli East Asia.

The positive results achieved to-date, expansion of the ECO`s regional and international cooperation, as well as the new stage of development of our Organization, require that we make changes to the insti­tutional structure of our organization, and to ensure that some items of our charter document agree with current realities.

It would allow us to work more effectively, and to mobilize the necessary financial, technical and other resources more rapidly for implementation of agreed projects, and to concentrate our efforts on programs that can be implemented today.


Azerbaijan like some of the other states participating in this Summit is going through a difficult transition period. Since achieving our independence, Azerbaijan has been moving forward on its way to building a democratic state based on the rule of law. We have been implementing true economic reforms to ensure free entrepreneur-ship and a market economy.

Political pluralism, freedom of expression, a free press and religious tolerance have been achieved with­in a short period of time.

The first democratic parliamentary elections were held based on a multi-party system. The first democra­tic Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan was adopted in a nationwide referendum.

Programs on privatization and reforms in the agri­culture sector have been adopted and are being imple­mented.

The "Contract of the Century", signed in September, 1994, has laid the foundation for a long term coopera­tion with the largest oil companies of the world for joint development of energy reserves in the Azerbaijan sec­tor of the Caspian Sea.

I am confident that expansion of international cooperation for development of energy resources in the Caspian Sea will contribute positively to economic prosperity of all the region, member states of our orga­nization, including the four littoral states.


As you are aware, Armenia`s military aggression against Azerbaijan has been continuing for more than eight years and has made the transition period of our young country more difficult.

Twenty percent of Azerbaijan`s territory has been occupied. More than one million citizens of our country have been driven from their homes, have become refugees and live in tent camps under the most difficult circumstances.

Notwithstanding this tragedy, we are in favor of a peaceful solution to the conflict through negotiations and based on international legal norms. They are: terri­torial integrity, inviolability of frontiers and sovereign­ty of states.

On May 12th, we commemorated the two year anniversary of the cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We have been negotiating within the frame­work of the OSCE Minsk group, as well as by the mediation of some interested states. Unfortunately, these negotiations have not brought the desired results, yet.

In order to restore peace and stability in the region, the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Organization for Economic Cooperation have all called on the aggressor to with­draw its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

Distinguished heads of state!

I ask that you use all your resources to help put an end to this conflict through peaceful means, to ensure the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and to return more than one million Azerbaijani refugees to their homes.


Summarizing the activities of our organization dur­ing the last three years, I would like to underline that it has been advancing with resolve, thus turning into one of the largest and most prestigious regional organiza­tions.

In this regard, I would like to emphasize the partic­ular role and efforts of Mr. Shamshad Ahmad Khan, General Secretary of the ECO. I extend my gratitude for his services to our Organization.

I support the candidacy of Mr. Ondar Ozar to the position of General Secretary of the ECO and I hope he will perfectly fulfill his duties in his new post.

In order to ensure peace, stability and economic progress in our region we should achieve efficiency in the activities of our Organization.

I am confident that we will attain these goals by con­solidating our efforts.

Thank you for your attention.
The document was taken from the edition of "Heydar Aliyev New Political Course"