Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the summit of heads of states and governments of the member countries of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization on BSEC`s 10-year anniversary - Istanbul, June 25, 2002

Dear mister chairman!

Your Excellencies, heads of states and governments!

Dear participants of the summit!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I welcome you with my heart and I congratulate you on the 10th anniversary of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.

Our organization was set up ten years ago in Turkey, in Istanbul. Today, we have again assembled in Istanbul to sum up the first ten years of our activity and to define our further duties.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the Turkish state and the government, the President of Turkish Republic, my friend mister Ahmed Nejdet Sezer for the organization of the summit at a high level and the hospitality given to us.

Our countries are members of the various international organizations and structures. The organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation takes a special place among them. Because, first of all, this organization unites the states forming part of one common region. Second and the most important is that it the organization of economic cooperation and considers achievement of social and economic progress and mutual cooperation between peoples of region as one of its basic objectives.

There is a similarity between the age of the Organization and in the age of many states incorporated in its structure and it proves that after gaining independence, we have made a decision to solve our problems in common, to deepen economic cooperation and have created the Organization of the Black Sea Cooperation.

It is remarkable that within the previous years, this organization has turned into the organization of the European scale from the initiative of cooperation in the Black Sea region, its wide and comprehensive structures have been established. Within the last three years, this process got ever greater scope.

Cooperation of the countries having various values and different levels of economic development, natural resources and productive forces creates a basis for deepening mutual dialogue and joint search of ways for economic cooperation.

Simultaneously, along with protecting and conducting exchange of the values they belong to, the member countries have selected the general way and follow in this direction - deeper integration into Europe.

Today, we have an absolute basis to state that the priority directions of our organization`s activity have already been defined. First of all, these directions are energy and transport fields. Azerbaijan makes an appreciable contribution to development of the mentioned spheres, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and Europe. We are confident that this process will extend even more within the next years.

Since 1993, we consistently pursue a policy of transportation of hydrocarbon resources in the Caspian basin to the western markets. This policy, which affects not only economic, but also political, humanitarian and democratic development of the region, yields its real results.

"The Contract of a Century", signed in 1994, is being consistently carried out. Today, we have already concluded the agreement with the leading companies and consortia of the world on the extraction, refining and transportation of crude oil of the Azerbaijan sector in the Caspian Sea.

Oil pipelines of Baku - Novorossiysk and Baku-Supsa export oil, extracted in the Caspian Sea. The project of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline, signed in 1999 here, in Istanbul, has already entered its last phase of realization. The project of Baku-Tbilsisi-Erzurum gas pipeline will shortly turn from an idea into a reality, and implementation of these projects, will undoubtedly, change an economic picture of the region substantially.

These projects, which are being carried out with participation of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and some leading oil companies of the world, will deepen the economic cooperation between Caspian and Black Sea pools even more.

Naturally, we do not exclude the participation of other countries, members of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, in realization of large economic projects in the future.

Azerbaijan`s geo-strategic position and passing some important transport corridors through its territory have made it the reliable transit state between Europe and Asia. In 1998, the International conference on restoration of a historical Great Silk way was held in Baku on our initiative with participation of more than 30 states of the world and the international organizations.

Restoration of the historical Silk way, which passes via territory of Azerbaijan and some other countries - members of the organization, is the important factor in strengthening political, economic, cultural relations between our peoples. With a feeling of satisfaction, I wish to note that heads of states and governments of many member countries of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation have accepted active participation in work of the conference, which set restoration of these communications as the purpose.

Realization of Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor - TRACECA program, which is financed by the European Union, and creation of the large transport infrastructures is one of the main conditions of our future economic development and expansion of our mutual relations.

Undoubtedly, the potential of our states is very big. Nevertheless, establishment of peace and stability in the region, liquidation of conflicts, mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, security of the states of the region are the important conditions for full use of this potential.

Otherwise, economic cooperation, joint realization of economic projects is impossible. It is the principle position of Azerbaijan and we will not recede from this principle up to the fair settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict.

Today we partially sum up the work of our organization for ten years. At the same time, we determine the basic directions of its future activity. I think, a certain success have been reached for these 10 years.

However, existence of any international organization and its successful activity is closely connected with consecutive implementation of the requirements put before it, constant definition of new priorities and their achievement. In this sense, we will have great obligations in the future.

The Black Sea region is in the center of Eurasia. Istanbul, which is considered a place of origin and capital of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, is on a joint of Europe and Asia. I consider it symbolic and I think that joining continents, states, peoples and nations, achievement of economic progress and social development should take the basic place in the further activity of our organization.

Once again, I congratulate all of you and I express you my best regards.

Thank you very much.