Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the opening ceremony of the conference "the Legend of the three seas" - Istanbul, June 25, 2002

Dear mister chairman!

Dear participants of conference!

I welcome you from the bottom of my heart and I wish every success to the work of conference.

The question being discussed today has a great history. The conference of "the Legend of the three seas" - Caspian Sea, Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea - is held for five years. But why was not it held before? Because, firstly, there was not enough information that our affairs will be in such close interrelation and besides very few people believed it. However, I do not say it to praise Azerbaijan, each time after questions on the existence of very rich oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan and their development, and after signing in 1994 of the contract named "Contract of century", there were held wide discussions concerning the Caspian Sea all over the world. Because it was not known to many people in the world about possessing of Caspian Sea such richest oil and gas deposits.

But we knew it in Azerbaijan. Because the Azerbaijan scientists, geologists 50-60 years ago began to extract oil and gas in a deep-water of the Caspian Sea. On the whole, for the first time in the world oil was extracted by industrial way 150 years ago only in Azerbaijan. Besides, for the first time in the world oil was extracted from the depths of the sea 50 years ago in Azerbaijan. In Azerbaijan we knew about it and we were engaged in it.

However, after gaining its state independence Azerbaijan, became the owner of the resources, our republic began to undertake the big steps directed on wider and effective utilization of these riches. The first step which has laid the foundation of this, was the signing of the contract called "Contract of century" in September, 1994 in Baku between the State oil Company of Azerbaijan and 11 largest oil companies of the world, on exploitation of deposits of "Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli" in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea.

Once again I repeat that when we signed this contract there was insufficient information about the Caspian Sea all over the world. Today it is known that Caspian Sea can be compared at least with Northern Sea on capacity of the hydrocarbon resources.

If the remaining of resources of Northern Sea to be extracted make 2, 2 billion tons, confirmed oil resources, which can be extracted only from the deposits of "Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli" of the Caspian Sea are equal approximately to 730 million tons. These are only in these deposits. In Azerbaijan about 20 contracts were signed with different companies of the world. Naturally, not all of them possess identical scales, they differ from each other. But if you put them together, you will see what ample opportunities exist only in the Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea.

But now it is known that huge oil and gas deposits exist in the Kazakhstan sector of Caspian Sea too. There are also big oil and gas deposits in Russian and other sectors. Thus, since 1994, we began to propagate Caspian Sea, it got popularity. If there is an opportunity for extraction of oil and gas from under ground in great volumes, then it is necessary to export and sell it. For this purpose ways are being sought as well. At that time for the first time questions on a construction of various oil pipelines through Caspian Sea have been put forward.

Today it is already known that in 1997 we laid Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline from Caspian Sea up to Black Sea. So, we have connected Caspian Sea with the Black Sea. After two years, in 1999, we would no how export oil, extracted from the deposit of "Chirag" of Caspian Sea, any more by the Novorossiysk pipeline. Therefore we have laid the second oil pipeline, which is very effectively working today, from Baku to Georgian port Supsa on Black sea. I can tell you that since 1999 till this day by this oil pipeline over 20 million tons of oil has been exported and this pipeline will be of great value in the future as well.

But these did not satisfy us too. We were thinking of an oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan since 1994. At that time very few people trusted in it. There were many people who put obstacles, and till this day some people count it to be dream. Or they allege that in Caspian Sea there is not enough oil for its export on the Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan pipeline. Answering them, today I want to tell that in the deposits of "Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli" there will be extracted 50 million tons of oil in 2010, and it is quite enough for functioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. But in fact there are also other deposits.

My friends, presidents who delivered a speech here before me, have noted it. Both Kazakhstan and other littoral Caspian countries will use the pipeline of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. We have already started construction of the pipeline of Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan. I think that construction will be successful enough. I declare that construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan great export oil pipeline will come to the end in 2005, and all of us, participants of today's conference, my friends, presidents will go to Turkish port Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea and we will there witnesses of loading of the Caspian oil in tankers.

All these works also have created a legend of these three seas. Therefore, I want to tell that this conference, legends of three seas, held for the fifth time has a mother. This is the Caspian Sea. And it is Azerbaijan standing near to its mother.

I think, at one time it was impossible to imagine that from Caspian Sea we will go to Black Sea, and from there we will reach up to Mediterranean Sea. The big oil pipeline is laid at an extent of two thousand kilometers. It is really a legend.

I want to tell the participants and organizers of the conference that this legend will continue and develop. I think that oil and gas which will be extracted from the deposits of Caspian Sea, not depending on from Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan, or any other sector, all this will be exported. New pipelines will be constructed.

For example, in connection with the deposit of "Shahdeniz" of Azerbaijan - Mr. President, my dear friend Ahmet Nejdet Sezer has perfectly told about it, - we have already signed and prepared everything. The construction of the pipeline is underway, gas extracted from there will come directly to Turkey, Erzurum. But it is only the first point. We count that the gas extracted in Caspian Sea can and will go further away- to Europe. Because we have a lot of opportunities.

Thus, the legend of the three seas is really a great legend. We are participants of creation of this legend and have turned it into a reality. It is not the legend any more, but a reality. Reality is that oil and gas is extracted in Caspian Sea. Reality is that oil pipelines of Baku-Novorossiysk and Baku-Supsa function. Reality is that construction of the Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan main export oil pipeline began. Reality is that construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline began. All this is put into practice. It is a reality.

Today I would like to suggest my dear friends to think of a new legend. Because, all this is not the legend any more, but reality of today. I am very glad to take part in the conference today. Dear chairmen, I thank you for your invitation. I express my deep respect to my friends here - President of Turkish Republic dear Ahmet Nejded Sezer, President of Georgia dear Edward Shevardnadze, President of Romania dear Ion Iliyesku, the President of Ukraine, very nice person, dear Leonid Kuchma. I am very glad that today we carry out extremely fruitful work together with our delegations since the morning.

Thank you!