Opening and Closing Speech of Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the International Conference on Restoration of the Historic Silk Route Held in Baku - September 8-9, 1998

 Esteemed heads of states and governments, leaders of delegations!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I cordially greet you, the participants of the international conference on the restorationofthe historic Great Silk Route.

It is a great honour for Azerbaijan Republic to be an organizer of such a worthy conference with the Commission of the European Union.

Our conference is the result of the effective efforts made by the European Union in the field of assistance to the new independent states. The foundation of that assistance was laid by the program of TACIS set up in 1991. In the frame of the national and intergovernmental programs of TACIS many important projects are being implemented which assist to conduct democratic and market reforms in the new independent states.

One of such projects is the program of "the Transcaucasian transport corridor of Europe - Caucasus - Asia (TRACECA)" adopted in May, 1993. In Brussels, on the proposal of the Commission of the European Union, there were held a meeting of the representatives from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Armenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and at this meeting the representatives discussed the issues development on the transport infrastructure of the region.

The Brussels declaration was the first international document to determine the importance, the concrete directions, forms and mechanism of the cooperation in the sphere of development of the Europe - Caucasus - Asia transport corridor.

Since then, there were held five meetings of the TRACECA working groups in Alma-Aty, Vienna, Venice, Athens and Tbilisi, at which many projects were adopted and gradually implemented on the modernization of the existing transport structures and construction of new objects. The Ukraine and Mongolia have been the full rights participants of the TRACECA programme.

The implementation of the TRACECA program successfully, great work done by the Commission of the European Union and the member countries and the concrete positive results of our cooperation have stimulated for working out large scale projects. The restoration of the historic Great Silk Route takes the key place among these projects.

In view of this, the Commission of the European Union and participating countries of the TRACECA programme have taken a decision to hold Baku International conference which we open today.

Delegations from 32 countries and 13 international organizations are attending the conference.

I am confident that the discussion of the issues on restoration of the historic Great Silk Route, the results and conclusions of our conference will assume great importance for the development of the national and regional transport structures, international economic cooperation, for the strengthening of peace, stability and progress in the Eurasian space.

Let me thank the working group of the TRACECA for their great activity in the preparation of our conference, working out and concordance of the documents which are presented for signature.

I thank the Commission of the European Union for their assistance in the organization of the conference and for the financial and technical support to the new independent states in conducting democratic, market reforms and developing international collaboration.

I express my thanks to all the participants of the conference for accepting our invitation and coming to Baku and wish them successful work in the hospitable Azerbaijani land.

I declare the international conference on the restoration of the historic Great Silk Route open.
Closing speech

Esteemed heads of states, leaders of delegations, participants of conference!

The Baku international conference on the restoration of the historic Great Silk Route has concluded its work.

I congratulate you on the occasion of conclusion of the work of the conference and signing of major documents - principal agreement the Baku Declaration and the official general communiqué.

To my point of view I am not wrong if I say that the Baku international conference on the restoration of the historic Great Silk Route has become an event having a tremendous historical importance.

In all there were 45 reports and all delegations delivered a speech in the conference. In these speeches there were sounded the most important ideas and suggestions which will undoubtedly assist our further joint activities.

The preparation and successful conclusion of the conference were realized possible as the result of our joint efforts. But at the same time I consider more necessary to mark the great work carried out by the European Commission on behalf of the participants of the conference. Five years ago, In May 1993, on the initiative of the commission of European Union, the representatives of the eight states of the Caucasus and Central Asia met in Brussels and started the cooperation on the development of the transport and all kinds of communication connecting Europe, Caucasus and Asia.

Five years passed after that time. Today we are witnessing that the basis laid there were valuable and reliable and turned into a big international organization. At this conference we heard the entire participants of the conference who spoke with great appreciation about importance, significance and great future of the activities which we did.

During the last five years the Commission of European Union has carried out much more important work. It has done out a great work in the preparation of the conference as well. And now we hope, that after the signing of the principal documents, all of us will enjoy the support and assistance of the European Union and the Commission of European Union.

Participation of heads and presidents of the countries renders a special importance to the work of the conference. I would like to express my gratitude to the heads and presidents of the countries for their participation and in the preparation of the conference, for their valuable and important reports and for the great activities that we provided together.

Throughout the day, all the participants of the conference combined their efforts and in this hall there were prevailing the atmosphere of mutual respect, friendship and collaboration. It shows that we are unanimous in the necessity of the restoration and development of the historic Great Silk Route.

To my point of view, the specific feature of our conference is that, on the basis of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia Transcaucasian main line, during last period for the first time the close cooperation and contact between Europe and Asia assume a special character in this conference. The participation of representatives of Eurasian space here also displays serious changes which characterize the close integration of Europe and Asia.

This conference assumes special importance both for us and for Azerbaijan. I want to thank the Commission of European Union, presidents and heads of the states and all countries participating in the conference, for the great honor shown to Azerbaijan and for holding such an important conference in Baku, Azerbaijan.

I want to assure all of you that we highly appreciate your confidence and we will do our best to make a bridge between Europe and Asia, be actually more effective and to fulfill our duty in the implementation of the restoration program of the historic Great Silk Route.

I thank all for the decision on setting up the secretariat of our organization, the residence of which will be in Azerbaijan, of the restoration of the Historic Great Silk Route. I think that we will realize the documents which were signed today, on our joint efforts and, undoubtedly, the secretariat representing our common organization will fulfill its duty with dignity.

Today, in Azerbaijan for the first time, perhaps, in its history, to be more exact, after gaining its state independence, such an international conference is held, and representatives of 32 countries and 13 international organizations are assembled here, in Baku. We consider it as a great respect to the independent, sovereign Azerbaijan and we will do our best to be worthy for this confidence and respect.

Today`s conference brought us more closer and call all of us to cooperation, mutual understanding and friendship, and I believe, that this conference will play its role so that we can be more active in the cooperation and ensure peace, welfare and progress in every country and in the Eurasian space.

Esteemed heads of states, now I invite you to have our photo taken for memory.

I declare the Baku international conference on the restoration of the Historic Great Silk Route closed.