Opening and closing speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony of the signature of an agreement between the state-owned company of Azerbaijan «Azergizil» and American «R.V. Investment group services LLC» - August 20, 1997

Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished guests,

We met today at the signature ceremony of a new project on the development of economy of Azerbaijan and the improvement of the welfare of the Azerbaijani people. This project is intended for the joint development of the natural resources of Azerbaijan with the United States.

Azerbaijan has rich natural resources. They were used in the past for the benefit of the people of Azerbaijan. Now, being the masters of our own destiny and an independent country we have the opportunity to use our natural resources more freely and efficiently.

We have done a lot of necessary work in this direction in the recent years. As you know, we have signed several large contracts with major oil companies on joint development of oil and gas fields in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has rich oil and gas fields, most of which are located in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea. It is already known around the world.

However, the natural resources of Azerbaijan are not limited with oil and gas. We own many other underground resources. It is known that Azerbaijan has rich deposits of iron ore, alunite, lead in the Filizchay River and zinc deposits, as well as rich deposits of gold, silver and copper. We need to effectively use these resources, too.

It is know that in the past in Azerbaijan it was used iron ore and alunite deposits, which gave positive results. Since the beginning of XX century Azerbaijan have started developing and operating the copper mines in Gedebey. As you know, the work was done by the German company «Siemens» and several other foreign countries.

Since the 1950s the attention has been paid to exploitation of nonferrous metals in Azerbaijan and in this area a lot of exploration was conducted. It helped to identify the presence of a number of regions of gold, silver and copper. After the exploration of fields necessary measures were not taken for their operation for a long time. These are the mistakes of the past. Perhaps due to the fact that in the past other areas of the economy of Azerbaijan had many opportunities and this area was not paid due attention.

As an independent country we pay serious attention to the identification of all the resources of Azerbaijan and to the elaboration of plans for their use in the recent years. Therefore, foreign companies have also increased their interest in the Azerbaijani deposits of gold, silver and copper.

Based on our current capabilities and resources, we, as you know, are not able to independently use these fields. Therefore, we consider it appropriate to conduct joint operations with foreign companies. In this connection, we have held certain negotiations with the companies of the United States and Canada and done some work. As a result, in 1995, we came to the conclusion that it is high time to use these fields that is, the time of their extensive exploration and development for commercial use. As a result of researches, analysis and discussions initiated in 1995, we decided it high was time to use the deposits of gold, copper and silver of Azerbaijan jointly with the United States.

The state company of Azerbaijan «Azergizil» (Azergold), as well as the Cabinet of Ministers dealt with the issue which made their proposals. They have been repeatedly discussed, examined and analyzed.

As a result, I made the decision on the possibility of signature of an important agreement between the company of U.S. and the state-owned Azerbaijani company «Azergizil.»

I want to notice that we are engaged in this issue very seriously and carefully. The use of oil and gas fields in Azerbaijan has a long history and as we have a lot of experience in this area, preparing contracts signed in the recent years between the major oil companies of foreign countries and Azerbaijan is not difficult for us. However, to tell the truth, we have no experience yet in the use of gold, silver and copper. In this area it was conducted much exploration and I can say that our geologists and scientists have accumulated a lot of experience in this issue and have a lot of materials. However, in the past we could not start immediately to use these fields, in particular, the fields of gold, silver and copper, that is, we were not able to exercise their commercial development.

Thus, I repeat, for the use of these fields and to create relations with foreign companies for joint work we have done a great work. In particular, we have studied the experience of a number of independent countries of the former Soviet Union. The agreement prepared for the signature today became possible thanks to this great work.

I believe that the economic effectiveness of this agreement is very valuable for Azerbaijan. According to the indicators of the agreement it provides to obtain about 400 tons of gold, 2,500 tons of silver and 1.5 million tons of copper from these deposits. For the implementation of the agreement total investment is 500 million dollars, 30-40 million of which will be used to conduct exploration. The agreement is for 15 years with the intention to renew it for 5 and another 5 years. Three years will be devoted to exploration. The profit will be divided on the basis of equity participation.

I also want to tell you the names of fields. These deposits are Gedebey, Gosha, the Ordubad group, Soyudlu, Gizil Bulag and Vejneli. The feature of the agreement is that these deposits are located in different regions of the country and cover a huge territory. Work will be done in these regions. Unlike the oil contracts which are implemented near Baku, Apsheron Peninsula, these works will be implemented in different spots of Azerbaijan. This will lead to the creation of job vacancies in various regions of the country. According to the agreement, about 10,000 people will be employed and 90 percent of them will be local residents.

One of the economic indicators of the agreement is that the proportion of «Azergizil» will be 51 percent and of the company of the United States - 49 percent. In accordance with the equity division of production about 80 percent of the profits will belong to Azerbaijan. I think that all this proves the effectiveness and the necessity of signature of the agreement for Azerbaijan from economic point of view.

I want to say that our works, measures and the steps taken in the economy and the signed contracts are aimed at the economic development of Azerbaijan and at the well-being of the population of Azerbaijan. This agreement pursues the same goal. I believe that it is advantageous for Azerbaijan. Considering this points, I made the decision to sign the agreement. Since it is very important for our country, the signature ceremony is attended by the representatives of government, as well as me. I believe that the agreement will be a new step in solving the economic and social problems in Azerbaijan. With these words, I invite you to sign the agreement.

Closing speech

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and friends,

I congratulate all of you on the signature of the new agreement dedicated to the US-Azerbaijan economic relations in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. I want to express my confidence that the agreement will be successful and beneficial both for Azerbaijan and the United States of America. I want to express my confidence that the practical implementation of the agreement will start immediately and we shall create necessary structures, joint bodies and managerial organizations. I have no doubt that this agreement will be approved by the parliament of Azerbaijan and consistently implemented.

I welcome the representatives of the American company, who arrived from the U.S. in Azerbaijan in connection with the signature of the agreement and take part in the ceremony. I assure you that the Azerbaijani government will monitor the implementation of the agreement and provide necessary conditions for its implementation.

I express my gratitude to Madam Sununu, the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, who has worked for many years at a very high government positions in America and now occupies a prominent place in U.S. policy, as well as president of the American company Mr. Veziri for today's performance, for the kind words addressed to Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people.

I thank the advisor to the minister of Trade of the United States of America and Special Representative of the President of the United States for the New Independent Countries Mr. Ian Kalitsky for the letter addressed to me in connection with this ceremony. I appreciate his thoughts about Azerbaijan stated in the letter and express my gratitude to him for his merits in the development of economic relations between Azerbaijan and the United States of America.

Ladies and gentlemen, today we are witnessing a momentous event. We are undertaking a major new step in the happy future of Azerbaijan. The underground resources of Azerbaijan, including gold, silver and copper ore have stayed untouched for centuries. I remember, our scientists mapping our country always indicated the presence of deposits of non-ferrous metals in Azerbaijan for decades. We are always proud of it, but these resources are still lying under the ground and the people have never been able to use them.

We start to this work to improve the welfare of the Azerbaijani people using the resources given by destiny and God. It is a historic event. Today I am proud to say that we are taking this historic step right now in the independent Azerbaijan. We reserve the great gift to future generations of Azerbaijan. This is a great contribution to XXI century. I have no doubt that during the development of these deposits we shall see that the underground resources in Azerbaijan are much greater. These figures are the initial ones and they will further increase. This agreement will serve the people of Azerbaijan not for 15-20 years, but for all XXI century.

Today's event once more confirms the independence of Azerbaijan, shows that our economy is moving towards the market economy and that the doors of our country are open to foreign investment. The Azerbaijani government demonstrates to the world its economic policies not in words, but in deeds.

This agreement marks the gradual development of economic relations between the United States and Azerbaijan, that the documents signed in August 1 in Washington between President Bill Clinton and President of Azerbaijan are being implemented by us.

Taking this opportunity, I want to note that the first official visit of the President of Azerbaijan to the United States, meetings and talks held during the visit, the signed documents, a number of fruitful meetings and talks held with the U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton and other officials of the United States of America made the results of the visit have a historic importance for the Republic of Azerbaijan and its people. Once more I express my gratitude and appreciation for this official visit, the signed documents, achieved positive results, care and attention and great hospitality extended to the representatives of Azerbaijan in each town of the United States.

In this regard, yesterday, in August 19, on the birthday of President Bill Clinton I sent a special letter addressed to him, once again expressed my thoughts and opinions about the US-Azerbaijani relations and the outcome of the visit of President of Azerbaijan to the United States I reiterated that we remain devoted to the US-Azerbaijani relations, to our partnership and friendly relations and try to raise them to a higher level.

The signature of the agreement between the U.S. and Azerbaijan in Baku after the signature of the documents and talks and meetings held in the United States prove our faithfulness to the agreements we signed. This proves the implementation of the statements we made.

At all the meetings during my stay in the United States of America I said that the economic opportunities of Azerbaijan are not limited to the oil and gas industry or the oil and gas fields. Azerbaijan has great natural resources and economic opportunities. Thus, the companies of the United States can cooperate with Azerbaijan in other areas and I invited them to this cooperation.

The agreement signed today proves that Azerbaijan has such opportunities and there is an opportunity to make major investments in a number of other areas of our economy. This is demonstrated in investment of a large company of the U.S. in the Azerbaijani deposits of nonferrous metals. I hope that the U.S. companies and other companies of other countries will be interested in today's event and will present proposals to cooperate with us in some other areas of the economy of Azerbaijan. I want to state that we shall carefully approach to each proposal and provide an environment for cooperation.

Today I reiterate that Azerbaijan, preserving and protecting its independence, will try to continue to use effectively all its capabilities, and in this regard considers it very important to attract the foreign investments in Azerbaijan. Our doors are open to all and we are ready to accept any company and country with an interest in Azerbaijan.

Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate you on this remarkable event, the signature of the agreement, which has great importance for the future of Azerbaijan. I am confident that this agreement will be very successful and profitable. Thank you.

Translated from newspaper «Azerbaijan», August 21, 1997