Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony of signature of the agreement between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and "Moncreef" company of the USA and "Petoil" company of Turkey on the joint developments in the oil deposits of "Mishovdag" and Kelamaddin" of Azerbaijan oilfields - Washington, September 12, 2000

Distinguished Senator, Mrs. Hutchison!

Distinguished Senator, Mr. Gram!

Distinguished Senator, Mr. Stivens!

Dear friends!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I heartily greet all of you here, in the capital of the USA, in Washington, in this historical building, the Capitol, where this historical organization is located. Let me convey you greetings and best wishes from the whole Independent Azerbaijan and of me personally.

Today witness a new remarkable event aimed at the progress and development of the relations between the USA and Azerbaijan. After gaining independence, Azerbaijan began joint oil and gas development the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea with big oil and gas companies of the world, and mainly with big oil and gas companies of the USA. Our first steps were very difficult. We faced with powerful resistance and great pressure. However, we didn`t change our will, we chose the right way, and we still follow it.

On September 20, 1994, we signed the first significant contract with 11 big oil companies of the world, mostly the USA`s companies, then organized a consortium, and it signed the first contract with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani Government. This contract made a great resonance, it became popular as "The Contract of the Century". Anyway, I met this expression for the first time in the letter sent to me by the President of the USA on the occasion of the signature of the contract. Then "The Contract of the Century", probably, became popular all over the world.

It was hard time then. It`s already 3 years we are independent. The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is going on. As you know, the war is connected with Armenia`s territorial claims against Azerbaijan, and unfortunately Armenia managed to occupy 20% of the Azerbaijani territory. Over one million Azerbaijanis have been driven away from their native lands. And they still live in tents.

I remember now, on September 20, 1994, when we signed contract in the Palace of "Gulistan", in Baku, the then prime-minister of Azerbaijan, who was a very negative person, asserted that this contract would be abolished in a few days as not wanted. But, it didn`t happen. A week later, the forces eager to violate the contract and break the process of establishing relations with the USA committed an attempt of armed coup d`etat. But, our people protected the independent Azerbaijan and its president. One million of civil citizens surrounded the presidential palace. Thus, attempt of overthrow failed.

Following years were also very hard for us, as the forces in Azerbaijan and outside tried to keep Azerbaijan under their influence and didn`t want the establishment and development of relations between Azerbaijan and the USA, they tried to disturb this process.

Moving forward on this way, we faced great resistance. If I begin telling you this story, you`ll have to listen to me 5-6 hours. But, I shall not do that. I just want to say that we have begun this work in very difficult conditions. And now, we are the winners. We achieved great successes on this way.

Today there is going to be signed the 20th agreement. A part of them was signed in Azerbaijan. In 1997, during my visit to Washington, in White house, there were signed four of them. Last year, in this building, there was signed the agreement with "Moncreef oil" company. In total, there have been signed 19 contracts until now.

Today the 20th contract is being signed. They all have great future. In the 21st century our growing generation will effectively use them. However, we can see their positive results now, too.

We had the purpose to get the early oil from the deposit of Chirag, and in 1997 we got it. We built strong contemporary platform. At the present, over 10 million ton of oil has been produced, we export it by two pipelines - "Baku - Novorossiysk" and "Baku - Supsa".

But, the main export pipeline is "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceykhan". We have been working on this project for several years, mostly the government, president and ministers of the USA. Finally last November during the summit of CSCE, in Istanbul, we signed this agreement. Alongside with four presidents, it was also signed by the president of the USA, Mr. Bill Clinton.

Our parliament has already ratified this agreement. Now, we begin the construction of the "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceykhan" oil pipeline. Some forces want to obstacle this program, too. But our will is strong. In particular, the USA, the government, the congress render assistance to this program. Now, it`s relatively easier for us to overcome the difficulties than it was before. Then we were alone. Today, 30 big oil companies representing 14 countries of the world work in Azerbaijan.

About 60 billion dollars will be invested in Azerbaijan for these contracts. About 30% of it will be invested by the USA companies. You didn`t manage to keep some of your companies, as "AMOKO", one of those which initiated the "Contract of the Century", it merged with "BP", and "Arko` did the same. But it`s your own matter. We don`t interfere in it. The main thing is that we cooperate with these companies. But the company which merges others naturally, will control the rest. Yesterday I was reported that "Chevron" still keeps its independence.

Independence is a holy word for us. We protect it as the apple of the eye, and we shall protect our state independence. If Azerbaijan had not gained its independence, we couldn`t have managed to carry out such a big work today. And I wouldn`t have been in the Capitol with you now. The state independence of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani - American friendly relations, the cooperation, all this is the main guarantee for the materialization of these contracts.

Within the last five years the companies of the USA invested in Azerbaijan one billion 600 million dollars. One billion 400 million of it refers to the oil sector. In total, the sum of investments in last five years is 5.2 billion dollars. That is, we initiated great foundations for our development. We rely on the USA in this work. We think that the state, the government of the USA will never leave us in an difficulty.

Last year we signed here an agreement with "Moncreef oil" company. During the presentation of this company, many influential people told me much interesting of its history. This company belongs to a family which is greatly respected in the USA. It`s too important for us. And when we got the proposal to sign the contract with this company, certainly there appeared some questions. But we solved them, too. And today, with great pleasure we sign the second contract.

Both contracts with "Moncreef oil" company refer to on-shore oil deposits of Azerbaijan. Our specialists and geologists think that the oil in Azerbaijan is being extracted commercially since 1848. There hasn`t been extracted even 70% of oil in the on-shore deposits in Azerbaijan until now. So the fact that the "Moncreef oil" company displayed interest exactly in these oilfields is of great importance for our future work. Be sure that in comparison with other agreements, I pay especial attention exactly to this agreement. And I shall render necessary help to the implementation of this agreement.

I congratulate you on the occasion of this event. I wish the "Moncreef oil" company great successes in Azerbaijan. No doubts that in the nearest future we shall see the positive practical results of the contract signed today.

Thank you!

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General historical background