Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the 7th summit of ECO countries - October 18, 2002

Distinguished chairman!

Distinguished Heads of states and governments!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I welcome you cordially. I wish all the participants of the ECO summit successes. I express my thanks to the Turkish President, His Excellency Ahmet Necdet Sezer and to the government of the Republic of Turkey.

I welcome the positive changes in Afghanistan, a member of this organization, after the last meeting of the heads of the states. I wish distinguished President Mr. Karzai successes in settling the problems facing his country and people.

In November, it will be 10 years since Azerbaijan and the countries of the Central Asia have become members of the ECO. Taking the opportunity, I congratulate everybody on the occasion of this momentous event, and I wish to improve the cooperation with joint efforts.

Distinguished participants!

In the first years of the new century the mankind confronts some very important tasks like establishing peace and prosperous life for people.

To cope with these issues the activities of the regional organizations are as important as the efforts made by separate countries.

In connection with this, ECO carries out a historical mission. I hope that the resolutions we are going to pass in the summit will positively affect on the political, economic, cultural and moral development of the region in the new century and determine its main tendency.

In addition, the resolutions of the summit must help the rapid development of the region and ensure its active participation in the process of globalization. We find the main tendencies of the organization in creating the legal base of integration in the region and working up its execution mechanism.

One of the main tasks facing ECO today is, to make its contribution to reduce poverty in the world. ECO, which includes a region with about 350 million people, should develop international cooperation and stimulate to carry out joint projects.

In connection with this, we consider that it is necessary to stimulate regional investment projects for creating new jobs and mutual investments among the countries.

On behalf of the Republic of Azerbaijan I can say that much has been done to attract investments, we created a proper legal base, and real advances have been achieved in the transition to the market economy and privatization. Since 1994 up to day about 10 billion dollars have been invested to the Azerbaijani economy.

I can say with certainty that today we have all necessary investment conditions in the country and I invite the businessmen to partake in realizing investment projects in Azerbaijan.

As it is known, Azerbaijan has already adopted a resolution on joining the North-South transport corridor. I discussed this important issue in the sphere of cooperation with the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran during my visit to this country. And I hope that it will make its contribution to the cooperation within ECO.

There are all necessary conditions for ECO to achieve successes in the regional cooperation. Historical affinity of our peoples, religious and language similarity and cultural, moral attachment lay down good foundations for this.

Since its establishment up to day a number of documents have been signed and appropriate bodies have been set up to enlarge the organization and solve the problems facing it. We consider it necessary to establish economic research center to identify development tendencies of the region, to make economic analyses, and for making joint projects. It\'s my pleasure to announce that Azerbaijan is ready to play the host to this center.

Startup of Baku-Novorossiysk and Baku-Supsa pipelines is of great importance both for Azerbaijan and the countries of the region. On September 18, the foundation of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was laid ceremonically in Baku which is of great importance for the countries of the region. President of the Turkish Republic Ahmet Necdet Sezer, President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze and President of the Republic of Azerbaijan participated in the ceremony.

This important event is the result of \"The Contract of the Century\" signed in 1994, on the basis of the new oil strategy for the exploitation of oil wells in the Caspian Sector of Azerbaijan.

Much work is being done for the development of oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea. More efficient use of the reserves makes it necessary to determine the legal status of the region.

Much has been done in this sphere recently. The Ashgabat Summit was of great importance where the pre-Caspian countries came together for the first time. We had negotiations with President Muhammad Hatemi when I was in Iran in May.

Besides, the agreements signed with Russia and Kazakhstan will help to solve the problem of the status of the Caspian Sea.

Mr. Chairman!

Distinguished participants!

Unfortunately, along with the happy events, which the mankind began the new millennium, there are also problems remaining from the last century. The most dangerous of them are ethnic conflicts and terrorism.

The terror act of September 11, 2001, in the USA was a serious signal for the progressive mankind. During some hours the whole world saw how terrible, dangerous and tragic is the terror for the mankind.

This terrible event was new for many countries. But in many countries people were aware of ethnic conflicts, terrorism towards peaceful people, chauvinism and separatism very well. Thousands of people have suffered from them.

Azerbaijan is aware of such conflicts as a country which suffered from terrorism and conflicts. Therefore, we immediately stated our readiness to struggle against this terrible tragedy and use all possibilities of our country.

For several years we have been struggling against ethnic separatism and terrorism in Azerbaijan. As the result of the territorial claims of Armenia to Azerbaijan and its military aggression, 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territories have been occupied and over a million Azerbaijanis have been driven from their homes and become refugees. As a result, thirty five thousand Azerbaijanis were killed in these territories. Occupation has caused serious economic and social problems in the country.

We stated that the Armenian -Azerbaijani conflict must be settled peacefully. We do not want war. We are for peace. To settle peace in Azerbaijan and in the whole Caucasus is our great wish.

As a peace- loving country Azerbaijan wants to live in peace and cooperation with its neighboring countries. These relations with Armenia are possible only after the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is solved, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is restored and refugees return their home.

We consider that the struggle against terrorism demands the joint activity of all the countries and international organizations. I think that ECO should fulfil its historical duties and continue the struggle for the universal values and support Azerbaijan as a member of this organization.

Distinguished chairman!

Distinguished participants!

I am sure that the Istanbul summit of ECO will determine the main tendencies of the development of the region in the new century and will help to overcome the main problems and l be an important step for making our peoples and countries become much closer.

Thank you for the attention!

Translated from \"Azerbaijan\" October 20, 2002