Speech of the President Heydar Aliyev at the International Investory Conference of the Islamic Bank of Development - Gulistan Palace, September 21, 1996



Distinguished President of the Islamic Bank of Development, Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali! Dear participants of the conference, and dear guests!

I`m very satisfied that the conference of the Islamic Bank of Development is held in Azerbaijan. And on behalf of Azerbaijan, I express my respect and consideration to the participants of the conference, to the Islamic Bank of Development and to its distinguished President, Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali. Dear guests, you are welcome to Azerbaijan, and I wish you success in your activities.

I highly appreciate the fact of holding this conference by the Islamic Bank of Development with such a big number of participants and such on a high level, and I consider it as a sign of our close relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic countries and the Islamic Bank of Development. I`m sure that this authoritative, high level conference held by the Islamic Bank of Development will give an incentive to the activity of the Islamic Bank of Development in all the Muslim countries and accelerate the relations of Azerbaijan with the Islamic Bank of Development and with business people related with it.

Azerbaijan is a young independent state. Azerbaijan gained its independence five years ago. After reaching the independence Azerbaijan lives its independent life. After the independence Azerbaijan has been recognized by the world community and has diplomatic relations with most countries of the world and is represented in all the international organizations of the world. Azerbaijan is a member of the UNO, of the CSCE, of the Islamic Conference Organization, and many other international organizations. Azerbaijan establishes bilateral mutually beneficial relations with all the countries of the world, at the same time takes part in the activity of the international and regional organizations. From that point of view our membership with The Organization of conference is of great importance for us.

Azerbaijan is a country which was a member of the former Soviet Union. More than seventy years Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan gained its independence. The former Soviet republics had close economic relations, and now it has a great significance for our present economy. From this point of view Azerbaijan is a member of the CIS and considers the activity in this organization very important

In the April of this year Azerbaijan signed an agreement on cooperation with the European Union. We pay great attention to our cooperation with the EU, too. After the independence Azerbaijan the process of building a democratic, secular and legal state, and we have gained great success on this way. In last November we adopted the 1st constitution of Azerbaijan, by the general vote of population. We held democratic elections of the 1st Parliament in Azerbaijan. All this demonstrates that Azerbaijan follows the way of democracy and progress.

A few months ago Azerbaijan was admitted to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as a guest. As you know the Council of Europe is also the organization which works hard for the development of democracy, and we are glad to cooperate with it.

Taking part in all the consistently meetings, especially in the summits of the international organizations, Azerbaijan always expressed its thoughts and position, both in connection with the changes taken place in the life of our country, and its attitude to the ongoing processes in the world. Last year the delegation of Azerbaijan took part in the summit, where the heads of the states of the Islamic Conference Organization met in Casablanca, Morocco. I happened to take part in that conference and delivered a speech there.

I expressed my deep satisfaction with my participating in that conference and the meetings held there. Undoubtedly, as a result of that conference there appeared good opportunities for much closer co-operation of Azerbaijan with the Islamic countries.

After its independence Azerbaijan conducts considerable changes in all the spheres of life in the country. As I declared, Azerbaijan pursues the road of democracy, implements democratic processes, building and developing a legal state, the economy becomes liberal. Much has been done for building the economy on the market principles.

As you know, for tens of years the economy of Azerbaijan was based on the principles of the socialist economy and state property was the leading one. Now conducting economic reforms we build our economy on the principles of market economy. Economic reforms provide to change the forms of property in Azerbaijan. That`s why Azerbaijan is open for all the countries from the economic point of view and it establishes free economic links with them, and wishes to extend them. Implementation of the economic reforms is the main task of our economy in our days. From this point of view we accepted a wide program on the privatization of property and consequently, we realize it. There have been adopted special laws for the conducting reforms in agriculture, in the agrarian sector. For example "The law on land reform" provides the transfer of the land to private ownership. On the base of all this, serious changes are taking place in the economy of Azerbaijan.

While implementing the economic reforms we pay especial attention to the development of entrepreneurship and to initiations. So, we take necessary measures, try to encourage the entrepreneurs and to create all legal conditions for them.

In this sense, we pay great attention to the investments from abroad, we create all conditions for the foreign companies here, in Azerbaijan. Some of the basic directions of our policy in the sphere of economy are the private sector in our Republic, investments from abroad, cooperation by using the economic potentials and natural resources of our country. We have taken necessary measures to conduct economic reforms and privatization, that is to create normative-legal basics for implementing economic reforms. Both the adopted laws and the will be adopted laws allow Azerbaijan to follow the way of liberal economy, to invest in Azerbaijan, and to make it easier for the foreign companies to work in Azerbaijan.

We have already done a great work on this way. Yesterday, there was passing the 2nd anniversary of the signature of the oil contract – "the Contract of the Century". It provides the joint development of rich oil deposits in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, with eleven companies of the world. Most members of the consortium taking part in the agreement are the oil companies of the western countries. However, there is also a company of Saudi Arabia – "Delta", and Turkey`s – "Turk petrollari co.", that is we cooperate both with the western and eastern countries.

Then we signed two more contracts on the development of the oil deposits in the Caspian Sea. Russian and western companies take part in these agreements. At the same time a company of the Islamic Republic of Iran takes part in one of those contracts. We held talks with the oil companies of the world on the development of the oil and gas deposits, and in connection with it we have plans. Perhaps, there will be signed contract as well. All this proves the fact that Azerbaijan is an open country for economic relations, at the same time it draws big investments to our country, and it shows that there are wide opportunities for implementing joint works.

The economic opportunities of Azerbaijan are not limited with oil and gas deposits. The geopolitical location of Azerbaijan, its nature, natural resources and wide industrial and intellectual potential have created a good base for the economic development of our country. At the same time, it has created good opportunities for the effective cooperation with the businessmen of the world, including those of the Islamic countries.

As a result of these measures, the relations of Azerbaijan with other developed countries have extended. Now, the representatives from tens of companies of many countries work in Baku. For instance, there are 45 representatives of the Norwegian companies, about 50 representatives of British companies, and about 50 of the USA companies in Azerbaijan. All this is a sign of Azerbaijan`s extended economic relations with other countries of the world.

We also cooperate very effectively with the financial centers of the world for conducting reforms in our economy and for the integration to the world economy. For example, I appreciate our cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, with the World Bank, with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. Last year in Great Britain, in London, there was a conference devoted to the investment opportunities of Azerbaijan. It was held on the initiative of the famous Adam Smith Institute. I took part there, and gave enough information on Azerbaijan. And today with feeling of satisfaction I can say that the representatives of tens of countries and of more than 200 companies are here at this conference. I think that as the result of the work done at this conference the economic relations of Azerbaijan with these countries will develop rapidly. Last year, in December, in France, Paris, on the initiative of the World Bank there was held an economic conference in the frames of this financial institution, devoted to Azerbaijan. The representatives of the world countries also took part in it. There we also spoke of the economic opportunities of Azerbaijan.

You know that Azerbaijan is an ancient oil country and it is famous in the world. From the mids of last century the production of oil began in Azerbaijan. Thus, the achievement and the experience of Azerbaijan in this sphere are highly appreciated in the world. Three years successively in May, an oil and gas exhibition is held in Azerbaijan. Last exhibition was participated by 150 companies with their exhibits. It shows the interest which the oil companies demonstrate in Azerbaijan, and it develops the relations of our Republic with those companies more.

However, I want to note that the economic opportunities of Azerbaijan are not limited with oil and gas there is also a powerful industrial, agricultural potential, developed chemical, engineering, metallurgic and other fields of industry, and we can cooperate in these fields, too. Rich nature and fertile soil of Azerbaijan also create wide opportunities for producing agricultural products. We always had great achievements in this field. But I think that after the adoption of "the Law on Land Reform" and privatization of the lands, these opportunities will grow more, and production and processing of the agricultural products will be very significant for foreign investments.

Informing you about it, I wish the businessmen of the private sector from the Islamic countries came to Azerbaijan. I invite you to our country. I wish success to the Islamic Bank of Development. And I hope it will be so.

According to its historical roots, traditions and religion, Azerbaijan is an Islamic country and it has the opportunity for more effective cooperation with Islamic countries because of its geographical closeness to them; and as our traditions are similar and geographically close to each other, and we also share climate, soil, nature, people, characters and traditions. All this demands much closer relations among our countries and creates conditions for it.

It`s not accidentally that the Islamic countries created this Organization of Islamic Conference. This organization functions in many regions, and the Islamic Bank of Development is under its patronage. Undoubtedly, all these are very significant factors and our task is to use them effectively.

Cooperation of Azerbaijan with the Islamic Bank in the recent few years, naturally, has produced its definite results. There are already some projects which we should work at and complete them. I expressed my desire and request related with it during our conversation with Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali yesterday in the evening. As I was informed, since the morning there has been done some practical work in this sphere, and I hope that this work will be prolonged, and the Islamic Bank of Development will show more attention to Azerbaijan.

I note once more that the present conference and your presence here have great significance for Azerbaijan. As it was noted 160 businessmen have arrived in Azerbaijan. I suppose that even after a short acquaintance with our country, they will better explore the opportunities of our country. Our relations with the private sector and with the businessmen taking part at this conference, or in general, from the Islamic countries, and sectors which are in touch with the Islamic Bank of Development, will extend.

After reaching independence the Republic of Azerbaijan has covered very glorious, but at the same time a very difficult and hard road. As you know, eight years ago Azerbaijan was subjected to aggression of Armenia. As the result of this aggression Azerbaijan suffered great damages, 20% of its territory was occupied and is still under the occupation of Armenia. More than one million of Azerbaijani citizens, muslims, were deprived of their lands, and have become refugees and live in difficult conditions now, mostly in tents.

Within the last years, together with the military aggression against Azerbaijan, very difficult processes were currenting in Azerbaijan. Separate illegal armed forces fought for power; the government was overthrown by gun. In 1993 the civil war began and Azerbaijan faced the threat of splinter. The strained processes in Azerbaijan, unconditionally, affected our life and economy, too.

However, Thanks to God, since June of 1993 a lot has been done for strengthening Azerbaijan. The work done for stabilizing the internal situation and the restoration of legislation led to positive results, and finally the social-political and internal situation of Azerbaijan became stable, the Government rules the whole Azerbaijan and controls its regions.

As the result of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan we have suffered great loses. However, Azerbaijan was exposed to military aggression before, too. In order to break the will of the Azerbaijani people the leaders of the former Soviet Union had a big contingent of armed forces attack Azerbaijan in the January of 1990, and innocent people became martyrs. They were buried in the Alley of Martyrs, which you visited today. Very noble and honest Azerbaijani people became martyrs a result of the Armenian aggression, too. They also were buried in that Alley. They all became sacrifices for the independence of Azerbaijani people, for the national freedom, sovereignty of their country, territorial integrity and for the protection their lands.

Inspite of all these losses and sacrifices, Azerbaijan as a peace loving state, desires to establish peace in the region and to settle the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict peacefully. Thus, two years ago, in the May of 1994, there was signed a ceasefire agreement between the two countries, and we still observe it. It is two years there are no fights, blood is not shed and people don`t die. However, there is still no entire peace, as I remarked, our territory is still under the occupation of the Armenian armed forces.

Thank you for treating Azerbaijan with respect. Thanks to Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali for the thoughts he expressed today. And thank you for recognizing Armenia`s being an aggressor. Last year in Casablanca, the summit of the Islamic Conference adopted a resolution concerning the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, and Armenia was condemned as an aggressor. I thank the Islamic Conference Organization and I`m sure that you will be in solidarity with us in this just struggle in future, too.

Inspite of all these losses, as I have remarked, we want to solve the question peacefully and to release our territory. Our conditions are known. In order to reach an agreement the armed forces of Armenia must leave the occupied lands, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored, our citizens driven away from their native lands must return home. It is possible that we can grant "the status of self-government" to the Armenians living in Naghorno-Karabakh (about 100 thousand people), within the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Informing you about today`s situation in our Republic, about its economy, internal and external situation I want to declare that Azerbaijan is developing as an independent state, the social-political situation is stable, and we are full of determination to cooperate with all the countries of the world.

Again, I invite you to cooperate. I wish success to the work of the Conference and to the Islamic Bank of Development. I`m sure that the relations of Azerbaijan with the businessmen from the Islamic Countries and with the Islamic Bank of Development will extend rapidly in future, too.
Thank you!