Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with representatives of AMOCO ‎Corporation, State of Illinois and City of Chicago during a tour of the lake of Michigan in a ship - ‎August 5, 1997‎

Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen Dear Friends

Today is the last day of my official visit to the United States. Early tomor­row morning at 9 AM, I will leave your country. I am very glad that I am with my American friends again in Chicago these last days and hours. Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States and at the Lake Michigan. The Azerbai­jani delegation and I are very pleased with our visit. We return to our country with great pride.

We think this visit has been success­ful, and it has produced good results. Most importantly, we have elevated the U.S.-Azerbaijani relationship to a new level. This is a truly historic visit for me and a landmark event in U.S.-Azerbai­jani relations. As I have read in a number of U.S. newspapers, this turned out to be not only our opinion, but also that of the U.S. public and government. President Clinton and his cabinet members have also given the same importance to this visit, including the negotiations and the outcomes. We have opened a significant door for the 21st century in U.S.-Azer­baijani relations. The documents we signed in the White House have laid the solid foundation for a long-term and sta­ble development of bilateral relations.

Another pleasing aspect is that the negative and false image of Azerbaijan, which had been shaped in the U.S. public and some government circles in recent years, has been gradually disappearing.

The agreement signed by the President Clinton and the Azeri President reflects the partnership between our two countries. We highly value this. You can all be assured that we will genuinely be a reliable partner.

President Bill Clinton clearly stated his commitment to Azerbaijan\'s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty in the document that we signed. The U.S. President highly praised the accomplishments in the process of building a law-based democratic state in Azerbaijan, the economic reforms and transition to market economy. The U.S. President also declared his determination to continue his efforts to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a peaceful manner. The President of the United States stressed the need to repeal Section 907 and promised to exert his efforts in this direction. The U.S. President noted the security issues around Azerbaijan and emphasized the necessity to cooperate in this field. The agreement we signed states that the United States and Azerbaijan will closely cooperate in political, economic, security, humanitarian and other areas. We highly value these commitments. I thank you again for these achievements.

Along with this, the oil contracts signed by the major U.S. oil companies and Azerbaijan in the White House in the presence of U.S. government officials is a sig­nificant factor in improving bilateral relations.

From the moment I stepped on American soil at the JFK airport in New York City to this moment when on the boat at Lake Michigan, we have only experienced hospi­tality and friendship on your land. I thank you for all this. At the same time, I would like to note that Amoco was one of the first companies to lay the foundation of our rela­tions. I have always attached great importance to this fact. I do so today, too. I believe Amoco is doing a great service to its people and the country of the United States of America, since the development of the U.S.-Azerbaijani relations is beneficial to both Azerbaijani and American interests.

During these days of our stay in the U.S., we have always felt the attention and care of the Amoco Corporation. Today we are your guests on board this ship. I thank you for that. You can rest assured that we will reciprocate this friendship. The char­acter of Azeris is respectful. They respond to hospitality with double the respect and hospitality. I suppose you have already had a chance to sense this. I assure you that it will continue in the same vein in the future.

Today on this boat, I recall an event that happened 25 years ago. That time, in 1972 to be exact, prominent artists from Russia including outstanding composers, musicians, writers and poets were visiting Azerbaijan. At that time, the Azeri oil field in the middle of the Caspian Sea, the Oily Rocks, was drawing public attention worldwide. A group of 500 to 600 people including myself rode a boat to the Oily Rocks. It took us four hours to reach our destination. It was a splendid day. It was my utmost honor to demonstrate the Oily Rocks to visitors, as Azeri oilmen were first to extract oil from the depth of the sea. We are proud of it.

However, tremendous changes have taken place during 25 years. Now we have opened the Caspian Sea to the world, while 25 years ago, we did not even know precisely how much oil was in there. Even if we had known, we could not use them as we were not the owners of our resources. The large country we lived in was in con­trol of these reserves. During that period, I was trying hard to expand the Oily Rocks, but Moscow did not allow that. It was more profitable for them to produce cheap oil in Siberia. We did not own the oil we produced either.

Despite all these obstacles, we were still trying. It was Azeris scientists who discovered the oil deposits in the Caspian Sea. I believe that an independent Azerbai­jan\'s greatest service to the world was pre­senting the oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea to the world. 

The document was taken from the edition \"Together towards the New Century\"