From the talk of President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with Minister of State of Great Britain for Scotland Brian Wilson - Presidential Palace, June 7, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Minister, I am very pleased that You have arrived in Azerbaijan for the fist time to take part in the international exposition and conference "Caspian Petro-chemical-2000". You delivered a speech there and today we are meeting with You.

Many companies of Great Britain operate in Azerbaijan. They carry out very important work in our country in oil and gas sectors. We solve basic issues together. The companies of Great Britain play an operator role in the "Contract of Century" signed in 1994, the contract on joint developments in the deposit of "Shahdeniz". They carry out important work in other spheres, too. The basic results of our work are the areas where "British Petroleum" is involved most of all. And therefore, Your visit to Azerbaijan is of great importance. I think You got well-acquainted with our country and Baku, its capital.

Brian Wilson: Mr. President, thank You very much for finding time to receive me. I know that You are very busy this week. I appreciate that You have found time for me. We met yesterday and we are meeting today again.

I must say that on the whole the contacts between our countries are now at a high level. I hope that the mutual visits at the level of ministers will contribute even more to deepen the cooperation of our countries in political, commercial and other spheres.

Today, in the morning, I visited the palace where the exhibition is held, watched the stands prepared by the British companies and talked to each representative of our companies separately. They have excellent mood. The representatives of these companies are quite satisfied with their activity in Azerbaijan. And the main point is that according to them, there is a great potential to increase their opportunities here.

Of course, I will thoroughly tell about what I have seen here upon my return to the motherland. I will try to convince the smallest and largest British companies, operating in oil and gas sectors, to come to Azerbaijan, to invest here and expand partnership even more.

The links between Great Britain and Azerbaijan are profitable for both parties. Of course, we carry out great work here for the successful industrial development in your country. However, Azerbaijan can also accomplish big work for the industrial development in our country. Our companies working in the North Sea have great experience. They have been working there for a long time. It seems to me that by coming to Azerbaijan they bring their experience and knowledge and at the same time adopt much from local specialists.

I repeat, by coming here the British companies share their knowledge and experience. Along with it, many Azerbaijani citizens work in the British companies operating here and raise their experience from year to year.

Participation of my country in the international exhibition and conference "Caspian Petro-chemical-2000" held in Azerbaijan at the level of a minister proves that we attach great importance to trade in this region of the world. To my mind, this exhibition will promote even greater development of our links.

Heydar Aliyev: I fully agree with Your statements. First if all, I also think that the links between Great Britain and Azerbaijan in political, economic and other spheres are at a high level. We highly appreciate it and try to widen these links even more.

I remember when I was in London on an official visit in 1998, I held detailed talks with Prime Minister Mr. Tony Blair, and many other ministers. The British and Azerbaijani sides adhered to the same opinion that Azerbaijan is a country having a very important geostrategical position and possessing vast natural resources. The interests of Great Britain in Azerbaijan and in the region on the whole require even more development of contacts between our countries.

I remember that during our talk with the minister of foreign affairs Mr. Robin Cook, he told me that they would increase the staff of the British embassy in Azerbaijan, since Azerbaijan, as well as close to Azerbaijan countries of the Central Asia interest Great Britain very much. I said that I supported the idea completely. And it is really like that.

The oil contracts signed by us after 1994 laid the foundation for a long-term cooperation of Great Britain with Azerbaijan. If each signed contract has a 30-year term, then I think twice as much time will be needed for full implementation of these contracts. It will be not only our task, but also a task for future generations. And thus, the links between Great Britain and Azerbaijan have a long-term and possibly constant character. That is how we realize it attaching at the same time extremely great importance to it.

I have said that the "Contract of the century", production of oil in deposit of "Chiraq", its export, as well as in the deposit of "Azeri" and "Guneshli", all this has a very big prospect. "British Petroleum" is an operator there.

Signature of an agreement on the main export pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan, negotiations on it and ratification of this agreement by the Azerbaijani and Georgian parliaments, its ratification by the Turkish parliament in the nearest future, opens a wider road for our joint work.

The stands of "Caspian Petro-chemical-2000" exhibition opened yesterday in Baku demonstrate the potentials of "Shakhdeniz" deposit. It was stated there that it would be possible to export 5 bln cubic meters of gas to Turkey in 2002. I think it is a good idea. We have to work jointly over it and fulfill the set objectives. Definite obstacles are possible to arise in this matter. However, we have to accomplish this work.

Rich gas deposits have been also discovered in Azerbaijan along with large oil ones. The representatives of "Chevron" stated yesterday that they are expecting huge results from the deposit of "Absheron" soon, which has even greater gas reserves than "Shahdeniz". It proves that we have to take immediate measures to export these resources, to the world markets and we should work together.

I have repeatedly invited the British companies operating in oil and gas spheres, as well as other spheres of Azerbaijan. They are working here. You said yesterday that some of them were leaving Azerbaijan. I did not know about that. I have given instructions to the prime minister to clear it up and inform me. I think that if such a fact exists, it must be small companies that cannot create appropriate conditions for themselves. At any case, I have focused attention on this matter and will give necessary instructions.

In a word, cooperation in all the areas should be expanded between Great Britain and Azerbaijan.

I think that You, as a State Minister, having seen the realities of Azerbaijan and the atmosphere in the "Caspian Petro-chemical" exhibition, will not spare efforts in this area.

Brian Wilson: Mr. President, I want to convey my personal regards and appreciation of the Prime Minister of Great Britain Mr. Tony Blair. You have congratulated him on the birth of his son in a letter sent to him.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, it is his fourth son. I respect to him and I feel is mutual.

Brian Wilson: Yes, I also know that he is a beautiful personality.

Mr. President, I fully agree with all Your statements. What You have said about expansion of our cooperation in oil field has inspired me much. Before I came here, we had dinner with the minister of trade and talked about it. It is necessary to develop oil industry even more to enlarge export capabilities of Azerbaijan. Upon return to the motherland, I will try to get various British companies to come to Azerbaijan and work here.

Mr. President, I want to support what You have said once again. The companies of Great Britain show high interest in oil pipeline projects and export of oil extracted in Azerbaijan via these pipelines to the world markets. They are ready to compete in order to start work in Azerbaijan in this area.

I want to emphasize once again that we treat each other with deep respect. I am confident that it is for the benefit of our common business.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank You.

The "Azerbaijan" newspaper, June 8, 2000

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