From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev while receiving the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ross Wilson - Presidential Palace, October 27, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: How are you? You are accustomed to condition in Azerbaijan, aren`t you?

Ross Wilson: I am very well and greatly pleased that you could find an opportunity to receive me tonight.

I have been working hard for 3 weeks. I held many meetings with the members of the Azerbaijani government and representatives of your people. I was treated very kind in all the meetings. That is why I feel myself very good and express you my gratitude.

Heydar Aliyev: Very well.

Ross Wilson: I will not say that I understand everything, but I made a very good start and hope that an excellent beginning will produce successful results.

Heydar Aliyev: Of course, it will.

Ross Uilson: Mr. President, the US-Azerbaijan business relations will improve in the coming weeks. This means that many visitors from our country will arrive in Azerbaijan. During this visit, we will continue our discussions and consultations on the US Caspian energy strategy. The previous dialog will continue in the sphere of military cooperation between the militaries of our countries. At the same time, we will continue the negotiations connected with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Last week, we witnessed a great event, connected with reources of Azerbaijan and their export to the world market. This is a part of our energy strategy in Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. President Bill Clinton was very glad when he heard about it. He has sent you a letter to express his satisfaction. Today I came to hand it to you.

President Clinton congratulates you and the Azerbaijani people on the occasion of the agreement connected with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline signed lately. Bill Clinton says in his letter that he remembers the joy, experienced by everybody in Istanbul last year and cherishes great hopes in the future of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. He writes in his letter: "The signature of the contracts with the governments of the transit countries is an important stage which demonstrates that Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and leading oil companies, are committed to change an inspiring idea into reality". President Clinton particularly emphasizes your leadership in his letter.

He writes: "I am grateful for Your leadership which You displayed not once, including Your personal steps this spring to provide Georgia`s participation in this project". In his letter addressed to You, President Clinton says that we have still much work to do in future. We especially need to make joint efforts to encourage and inspire Kazakhstan to join this project.

President Clinton writes in the letter that the US is fully committed to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and is determined further to continue to cooperate with you in the priority spheres for both of us.

Mr. President, let me to add my own congratulations to those of President Clinton and tell you that I am very satisfied with the meeting with the people who directly worked on this project. We are determined to make joint efforts for the successful realization of this project.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much,will you keep the letter, or give it to me?

Ross Wilson: No, I will give it to You.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. First I think it is a great event that distinguished President Bill Clinton highly appreciates our works.

You know that after signature the first contract in September 1994, we were thinking about the routs for the delivery of the produced oil to the world market and the contract provides the construction of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline called Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline now. President Clinton sent me a letter of congratulation after the signature of this contract. In his first letter he called this contract the "Contract of the century". Thus, President Clinton is the author of the name of this contract. Since we closely cooperate and work with the United States in this issue. I remember, after the restoration of the Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline we exchanged views very comprehensively with President Bill Clinton on the construction of another oil pipeline via the route of Baku-Supsa. We built the Baku-Supsa pipeline as well. We started to export oil by two routes since 1999.

Thus, the new oil strategy of Azerbaijan emerged and was steadily realized. As you read in the letter of President Clinton, development of Azerbaijan`s oil and gas resources of the Caspian basin is a great contribution to the oil strategy of the United States and the world. In 1994 the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was a great problem. Many people did not believe in it and obstacled the project. It is naturally that they were creating various difficulties for us. But we, were faithful to this cause. We manifested our faithfulness by signing an agreement on the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in November of the past year.

You said that hard and difficult work was done for the realization of this project since the November of the past year.

I am pleased that President Clinton indicated in his letter that while being our friend, Georgia demanded unrealistic tariffs for the transit and it hindered the realization of the project. For the sake of the realization of the project I almost gifted to Georgia Azerbaijan`s tariffs. We showed our fidelity till the end and the agreement was signed in Baku. Then the agreement was signed in Ankara and Tbilisi and now we begin our practical activity.

Today, I feel great pride that Azerbaijan is the author of this big and historical event. At the same time our cooperation wit the Turkish government, especially constant policy of its 9th President Suleyman Demirel assisted us much.

Georgia is our friend and a transit country for this route, so its efforts and President Shevardnadze`s services in this sphere is highly appreciated by me.

If you remember when signing this agreement I said that if it had not been for President Clinton`s care and assistance we would have not been able to realize this project. I thank again to the United States, especially President Clinton. I congratulate him as well. After receiving this letter I will send congratulation to Mr. Bill Clinton too.

Kazakhstan signed our agreement in Istanbul. But as Mr. Clinton has pointed out in his letter, it is very necessary to join Kazakhstan to this project. We hope much to President Clinton for it. We do necessary work ourselves and will continue our efforts.

Thus, our work in the past six years has produced good results. That is the reality of today. That`s an excellent example to the Azerbaijani-US friendship. Thank you again.

Ross Wilson: We support this project, first of all because it corresponds and serves the national interests of the United States. The interest of the United States demands that Azerbaijan become a prosperous and powerful state. Your country`s access to the world market will greatly assist in its in becoming powerful and prosperous. We will further continue our work on this project.

Mr. President I expect to continue working in this sphere together with You. I congratulate You once again.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I congratulate you too. 

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, October 28, 2000.

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