From talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the US Secretary โ€Žof Energy Spenser Abrahams - September 17, 2002โ€Ž

Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished Mr. Secretary!

Distinguished guests!

I cordially greet and welcome you in Azerbaijan.

Nowadays we celebrate a great event in Azerbaijan. This is laying of the foundation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main oil pipeline. We shall start its construction. Your arrival and participation in this event is very fine and important for us. Because the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main oil export pipeline is one of the great projects in the world. It is especially important in the Caucasian region. We make efforts and work for its implementation for eight years. I point out with gratitude that the US government, its president rendered great support in the implementation of this project and assisted in the settlement of the issues connected with it.

In November 1999, the US President participated in the signature of the final document on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project during the OSCE Summit in Istanbul and signed it. That is why your participation in this event is very important and necessary. You have to see the results of your work, as we. That is why I thank you. Please.

Spenser Abraham: Mr. President, let me to convey you the congratulations of the US government and president on the occasion of the implementation of this project. President Bush personally asked to congratulate you on the occasion of ending these efforts with such positive results.

As you know, President Bush, the US government and people highly appreciate the relations with Azerbaijan. They are very important for our citizens and country.

President Bush also thanks you for your, the support in the fight against the global terrorism.

The letter addressed to you by President Bush several days ago said: "We thank you for your support. We would like to thank you also for the hospitality during our stay in your country.

We are very excited to participate in the important events to be held on September 18. Especially, because, the development of the energy resources in the Caspian Sea and construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline are very important for our people. The US parties, democrats and republicans, attach great importance to this project. This is a very important event.

From the first day of its presidency George Bush assigned me and vice-president Dick Cheney to prepare thee oil strategy of the US for the upcoming 25 years. Under the leadership of the Vice-president Cheney, we prepared and submitted this oil strategy to the President in March 2001. The US support for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project and its importance for the United States have been reflected in the main part of this strategy. After publishing our program connected with the new oil strategy we have traced the works and successes achieved in this region with great excitement and interest.

Laying the foundation of the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline is a strong factor to for the development of the Azerbaijani people and for the entire region. It also demonstrates the positive results of the constant cooperation of the US government with your government. Successful implementation of this project indicates at the same time your far-sightedness as a leader and your high organizational abilities in a number of difficult situations.

I say once more that President Bush asked me to congratulate you on this occasion. Because the gained achievements will contribute to strengthening of stability and improvement of welfare of your country. The US government desires to work with you and achieve successes in this sphere. Thank you once more for receiving us today.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you, distinguished Mr. Secretary. Thank you for delivering me the greetings and regards of President George Bush. Please give my best regards to Mr. President Bush too. The US-Azerbaijani contacts are of great importance for us as it does for you. We attach great importance to this and make efforts to develop them in all the spheres.

Your ideas about the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project, the views of the US government and President on this issue, their attitude and other views on it are very worthy and coincide with those of ours.

It took eight years for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project to reach this point. These eight years passed in a very hard and great struggle. I am very satisfied that you and President Bush appreciate everything very correctly in this issue. I ask you to thank him on my behalf for the words about my activity in this issue.

You know that Azerbaijan immediately joined the anti-terror coalition of the US after 9/11. Since we closely cooperate with the US and other members of the coalition and carry out the tasks entrusted on us. We are in this coalition and we shall be there further. We shall be there until the extermination of the international terrorism.

I am very thankful for President Bush's letter addressed to me connected with the participation of Azerbaijan in anti-terror coalition which conveys his thanks to the Republic of Azerbaijan and our people. This letter encouraged me much. At the same time it showed that we are in the coalition and we shall be there further.

I heard with great pleasure that the US prepared and implement its oil strategy on the instruction of President George Bush. As I understood, vice-president Cheney leads this job. I have no doubts that the Caspian Sea occupies its deserved place in it as it must. Vice-President Cheney has been here, is familiar with the Caspian Sea and the works done here. That is why, these issues can be close to him.

But I want to say that you are a bit late. Azerbaijan has developed its oil strategy in 1994 and implements it constantly. It is natural that Azerbaijan implements its oil strategy together and with the support of a number of the Western nations, especially the United States. But I want to declare that Azerbaijan is an independent state and has its far-sighted oil strategy for long years. We implement this strategy. We have positive results and we shall gain great achievements in the future.

Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan is a part of the oil strategy of Azerbaijan. You said and I confirm that this project is of great importance. This pipeline shall connect Azerbaijan with the Mediterranean Sea passing through Georgia and Turkey. At the first hand, it has economic importance and it is natural that the companies joining it care for their economic interest and they shall receive it. But for us, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline is of great political and strategic importance. It closely connects Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey with each other in the Southern Caucasus. Along with it, we work on the project of the delivery of the Azerbaijani gas to Turkey via Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline. Peace, security and stability are of great importance for our region. We want to achieve them. I know that the United States wants peace and security namely in this region, Azerbaijan which is of great geographic and strategic importance. We do a lot in this sphere. At the same time we need the US support and assistance in this issue.

Please give my best regards to President Bush for his decision for suspending Section 907. Section 907 was an undesirable political event for Azerbaijan for 10 years since its adoption in 1992. We considered it injust, and always declared about it. Because, those who took this decision blamed us in alleged blockade of Armenia. That is not true. We made efforts to persuade the pro-Armenian congressmen of the United States that they are not right, but in vain. Everything is clear. Armenia has occupied 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory. More than one million of our citizens have been expelled from their lands and most of them live in tent camps. In such a case to apply Section 907 to Azerbaijan is utter injustice.

But finally, Mr. President Bush took a special decision concerning it and Section 907 was suspended. We think that the suspension of Section 907 is good. But it must be completely repealed. This is a political issue. I say to you that we have been living with Section 907 for ten years and we can further do it. But application of Section 907 to Azerbaijan and its continuation are political issues. Despite it we continue to develop our cooperation with the United States in all the spheres and shall move it further.

The USA is our strategic partner and our joint work in the Caspian Sea proves it clearly.

You will see the foundation laying ceremony of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline on September 18. Indeed, Azerbaijan implements its oil strategy and closely cooperates with the United States in this sphere. Thank you.

Spenser Abraham: Mr. President, I will personally convey your greetings and regards to President Bush.

I think that strong relations established between our countries in the past years, the repeal of Section 907 and the foundation laying ceremony to be held on September 18 once more confirm the growth of relations between us. I believe that President Bush expect continuation a new stage of relations established between our countries. I want once more to congratulate you on the occasion of the event to be held on September 18.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I don't want to keep you long. We shall meet. 

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