Speech of Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the opening ceremony of the office of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) - 24 August, 1996

Distinguished Mr. Terry Adams, ladies and gentlemen!

Today since the morning we are getting acquainted with the International Operating Company of the Consortium created to realize the cooperation of foreign oil companies in the sphere of oil production and with the work that have been done up to now, and on this occasion we have assembled here.

One of the visual results of the realization of the contract signed in 1994 is putting into operation of the drilling rig "Dede-Korkud" today. It is doubtless that the representatives of AIOC and consortium must be able to implement into life such a worthy thing as this contract. Since this is one of the most beautiful buildings in Azerbaijan, in front of which we have assembled, has been given at the disposal of the International Operating Company of the consortium. Now Mr. Terry Adams informed us that they have repaired the building, updated it and decorated it with the paintings of the Azerbaijani artists, and today they have invited us to its official opening. They have named the building Villa Petrolea II, and as I understood from the given explanation, the first Villa Petrolea was the office of the Nobel Brothers in Garashahar when they worked involved in the oil industry of Azerbaijan. The deeds of the Nobel brothers in the oil industry of Azerbaijan have left their imprints in the history of our country and we remember them even today. If their work began at the end of the XIX century, the cooperation of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan with the biggest oil companies of the world has begun at the end of the XX century. It is doubtless that the work of today must differ from that of a century ago in many respects.

The office of the Nobel Brothers is in the place called Garashahar (Dark Town). It was called Garashahar in Baku because then all oil refineries were located in that part of the city and they ejected so much smoke that all the walls and territory were completely dark.

But the construction works carried out in 70s of this century cleared Garashahar completely. The oil refineries based on outdated technology were destroyed and new ones were constructed in their place which meet the present requirements. I remember, while proposing the program of reconstruction of industry of Azerbaijan, including oil industry, oil refining industry, I declared that all the installations in the territory of Garashahar which pollute the whole city, environment and ecology would be destroyed, the word "Garashahar" will be ousted from the vocabulary, trees, flowers would be planted, new buildings would be constructed in the place of Garashahar, it would the most picturesque place of our city. We managed to achieve it. Now everybody sees that it is one of the most beautiful parts of the city, and the word "Garashahar" is not in use in Baku, it has already been ousted from the vocabulary. There is a wide avenue there instead of that Garashahar, and its name is the Avenue, beautiful buildings have been constructed there, people live there and in the settlement of Ahmadli, which is very close to it, in comfortable houses. I remembered this when Mr. Terry Adams mentioned the villa of the Nobel Brothers and Garashahar. There is no Garashahar now.

And the building in front of which we are standing now once was built for oil workers. I have been in it for several times. It was a beautiful building in the past, the palace of culture of the oil workers. It is very regretting that at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s when there was arbitrariness in the republic, when nobody was interested in buildings like this and did not pay attention to them, it was ruined and destroyed.

When giving this building to AIOC, to the oil consortium, I was sure that they would update it and use it effectively. The term of our contract is 30 years. It is doubtless that the building will be exploited these 30 years. It is a very good thing to repair, to update the existing building. But beautiful buildings were built in Baku last century, I think that AIOC, the international consortium which realizes into life the contract of the century will also leave its positive imprints in Azerbaijan, build new buildings, use them and leave as memories of their deeds for the Azerbaijan people. I do not doubt that we shall take part in the opening ceremony of such a new building together as well.

Now I want to congratulate Mr. Terry Adams, AIOC, with the opening of the new office and I want to say that I am very pleased to take part in this ceremony. I wish AIOC to have all comforts and effective work in this building.
Thank you.