Statement of Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the official reception ‎held in honor of Heydar Aliyev by America-Europe-Asia Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-‎American Committee on International Business Cooperation on the eightieth floor of the ‎magnificent building of Amoco in Chicago - August 4, 1997‎

Mr. Lawrence Fuller, chairman of the Board of Directors of Amoco Corporation!

Mr. Donald Fites, chairman of the Board of Directors of Caterpillar!

Mr. McKlung, vice-president of FMC!

Mr. President of Motorola!

I am very pleased to meet all of you here. Chicago is one of the biggest cities of the world, one of the biggest industrial, financial and cultural centers of the U.S. When we make an excursion to the grand and huge history of the U.S., we see that Chicago and the state of Illinois hold a special place in it. The whole world displays great interest in your city. Chicago exerts interest in the world. Lots of people from all corners of the world want to come to your city. They come, they visit Chicago as guests. Everyone who visits Chicago and gets acquainted with the nature, architecture, climate, especially with the business atmosphere of your city, finds something precious, something very valuable for himself to help to build ones work, to make use of them.

Therefore I had a great desire to visit Chicago. When I made preparations to visit the U.S. I included a visit to Chicago, too. Fortunately I realized my dream.

Today we have here many respectful, important persons, representatives of the American-European-Asian Chamber of Commerce, Mid-American Committee on International Business cooperation, press and mass media, big companies, and popular financial centers.

I thank you for the attention, care and respect shown to me and to members of my delegation. I am very glad to meet you here. I know that this hall is a historical place. As a custom, all meetings with high officials, statesmen, politicians and persons involved in economy, who visit America, are held in this hall. The walls of this hall have witnessed many such meetings. 1 am very happy that I, president of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan, the members of my delegation have the honor to hold such a high level meeting in this historical place.

You can be sure that I appreciate this meeting highly. I think that this meeting will be a good incentive for the development of the USA-Azerbaijan economic relations. In any case, we have come with the above-mentioned desires to this meeting. I hope that our desires will be realized.

You already know Azerbaijan. But perhaps not all of you have full imagination about Azerbaijan. Therefore 1 would like to take a little time to say some words about the present day Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is a country located in the Caucasus. It has an ancient, a very long history. In this long history Azerbaijan has experienced many hardships, ordeals and stages. But the Azerbaijan people have never quitted their Motherland, they have fought, created, lived with the dream for national liberation and state independence, finally achieved all of them in the recent years.

You know that Azerbaijan gained its independence at the beginning of the 20th century. Azerbaijan functioned as an independent country in the past centuries as well, but later lost its independence. In 1918, Azerbaijan became independent, the first democratic republic was established. But unfortunately it lived only 23 months. Then the Soviet power was established in Azerbaijan. This power existed for 70 years. By the end of 1991 the Union of Soviets collapsed and as a result of it Azerbaijan gained its independence. The U.S. was one of the first states to recognize the independence of Azerbaijan. We are always thankful for it.

In the recent years, Azerbaijan has established diplomatic relationships with many countries in the world, cooperating with them on mutually beneficial bases. Azerbaijan is the member of all international organizations. And finally, Azerbaijan occupies a worthy place in the world community.

After gaining independence, Azerbaijan has adopted a decision to build a legal, democratic and secular state. We implement into life this decision consistently. This is our strategic goal.

It is true that safeguarding the independence of Azerbaijan has not been very easy. We came face to face with many difficulties. Foreign interferences, various pressures, ongoing socio-political processes in the country, struggles of various armed groups for the state power created great strains in the republic. But the most difficult, the hardest of all this is the armed aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan.

Nine years ago, when Azerbaijan and Armenia were still in the composition of the Soviet Union, Armenia committed an armed aggression against Azerbaijan. Armenia is aiming at tearing away the Upper Garabag province from Azerbaijan and join it to Armenia. It resulted in this big conflict. A war has been waged and people have been killed. Azerbaijan has given martyrs, tens of thousands people have been murdered. Being supported by some countries, the armed forces of Armenia have occupied 20% of the Azerbaijan territory. Over one million people have become refugees, displaced persons. They have been living in tent camps since.

We want to solve this conflict. Therefore we signed a cease-fire agreement with Armenia three years ago. We observe the cease-fire. There is no fire at present, but at the same time there is no peace as well. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has been violated. A part of territory of Azerbaijan is under the occupation of the armed forces of Armenia. Despite all this we want to settle the conflict peacefully and for this purpose we use the mediation efforts of the Minsk Group of OSCE constantly.

I can note with great satisfaction that in December of the last year the Minsk Group came out with a proposal at the summit meeting of OSCE-member states in Lisbon. As a result of it the general principles of solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict were adopted. These principles consist of the followings: recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Armenia, to grant self-governance right to the Upper Garabag within integrity of Azerbaijan, provision of security of the Armenian and Azerbaijan population of the Upper Garabag.

We have adopted these principles. At the Lisbon summit of OSCE-member states 53 out 54 countries supported these principles. But it is very regretful that Armenia objected to them. What does Armenia want? It claims to have the status of an independent state for the Upper Garabag. This is impossible in any case. We can not agree with it. And the world community can not accept it. This claim contradicts the Charter of the United Nations Organization, the principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the norms of the international law. We can not allow the formation of a second Armenian state in the territory of Azerbaijan.

The Armenian people have self-determination right and have already realized this right. They have their independent state, independent republic. It is impossible to create a second Armenian state. Therefore Armenia must accept the compromise. We have accepted many compromises. Acceptance of the principles of the Lisbon Summit by us is one of our compromises.

Now one thing that gives us much hope is that after the Lisbon Summit, the new co-chairpersons for the Minsk Group of OSCE - the U.S., Russia and France - have been appointed for the solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict.

The presidents of the United States, Russian Federation and France - Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin and Jacques Chirac - made a statement on June 20, in the city of Denver, on the peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. It gives grounds to hope for better.

The Minsk Group of OSCE has recently introduced constructive proposals to us for the solution of the conflict. We have accepted them as a basis for the intensification of negotiations. They all give us great hopes. These hopes have grown even stronger during my visit to the U.S.

You know that it is my first official visit to the U.S. as the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan. I want you to know everywhere here, everyday, every hour we have been surrounded with great care attention and hospitality. I thank everybody for them.

On August 1, met President Clinton in the White House. It was a very important meeting of great historical significance. We discussed all the interesting issues. Our negotiations were held in the atmosphere of sincerity, kindness and friendship. It gladdens me very much, gladdens all of us very greatly. We expressed unanimity of opinions in many issues during the talks. We particularly discussed the problem of peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict comprehensively. The talks give hope for better. President Clinton is personally dealing with this problem and he promised and declared that he will continue his efforts in future as well.

As a result of these talks, negotiations we signed in the White House a number of significant documents of historical importance which will contribute to the development of relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan. The most striking feature of these documents is that our cooperation bears a friendly nature. It shows a relationship of two partners. This idea and many other similar ideas have found their expression in the joint statement signed by President Clinton and me. We also signed a very important agreement on the protection of investments, and a contract on cooperation in the area of energy resources.

I had meetings at the Defense Department. We also signed an agreement on cooperation between the U.S. Defense Department and Azerbaijan. Along with all this, on August 1, very important contracts were signed between Azerbaijan and the U.S. oil companies Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, Amoco. These contracts are connected with developments of the U.S. companies in new oil and gas deposits of Azerbaijan. Al Gore, vice-president of the United States, attended the signing ceremony and made a speech. Also attending were Madeleine Albright, the State Secretary, Ministers Mr. Pena and Mr. Daly, Mr. Berger and other high officials.

August 1 became a historical day in the Azerbaijan-U.S. relationship. We are pleased with it very much. During the talks, in the signed documents and particularly in the joint statement, the U.S. supported Azerbaijan as a democratic republic which has chosen the road of economic reforms due to which has become an integral party of the world community. All this has found their expression in the signed documents. They acquire a great importance for us.

As I noted, we are building a legal, democratic and secular state in Azerbaijan. It is not an easy task to be implemented into life in our country. It is a very difficult problem for a country that has lived under the totalitarian regime for many years to follow the road of democracy and market economy, to carry out reforms, to change the economy. We have been facing great difficulties. But today I declare to you, it is our strategy and we shall follow it.

The documents signed by President Clinton and me reflect the support of the U.S. of the state independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. I want to declare to you today that Azerbaijan regards its state independence a historical achievement. We are defending this independence and will continue defending it further. We shall never give up our state independence. The state independence of Azerbaijan is forever, eternal and invincible.

You know that there are various forces exerting pressure on us from various directions and do not want us to be independent.

They are great forces. But everybody must know we shall defend and protect our state independence at any cost. We shall never allow anybody to own our country any more, or deprive us from our national freedom. We shall never allow it.

We are building a democratic republic, a democratic state, we are establishing market relations in the country, implementing into life economic reforms. I want to say that we have achievements in all this spheres. The rate of inflation in Azerbaijan in 1994 was 1800%, it was 84% in 1995, but in 1996 it fell to 6%. In the first half of this year, its rate was 0%.

The economy of Azerbaijan was in decline since 1989. It continued to decline till the last year. We were in a deep social and economic crisis. National income, domestic production fell 25%. The production of industrial products was reduced by 25-30%. We managed to stop the decline. 1996 was a turning point. Last year the output of industrial production and aggregate domestic production grew 1.2%. In the first half of 1997 aggregate domestic production grew 5.2. Output of agricultural and industrial products is growing. Our national currency have become convertible. Taken together, we have given freedom and independence to many things.

Foreign trade in our country grew for 40% last year. We have liberalized the foreign trade. We have carried out liberalization in economy. We have opened the doors of the republic for the foreign investment. We have created favorable conditions for the attraction of investments to Azerbaijan. As a result of these steps, foreign investment is consistently flowing to Azerbaijan and the total amount of investments is growing day by day. Finally, we have gained a positive balance in our import and export last year. In the first half of this year our export exceeds the import. We have liberalized customs duties in order to enable any company come to Azerbaijan, invest and function independently in our republic. We have the lowest rate of customs duty.

We have adopted very positive laws for the protection of foreign investment in Azerbaijan. We adopted an immunity law for foreign investments. Any legal or physical entity who invests capital in Azerbaijan may work on conditions when capital was invested for ten years irrespective of changes in laws which follow.

We have also adopted a law on repatriation of incomes of foreign investors. We have adopted a number of other laws, as well. All this has created great opportunities for initiatives, free entrepreneurship, liberalized the economy in Azerbaijan, on one hand, creating favorable conditions for the attraction of foreign investments, on the other.

We have implemented into life great economic reforms in the agrarian sector. The livestock in the agrarian sector has completely been privatized. We are privatizing the land now. Last year we adopted a very radical law on the transfer of lands to the private ownership. I want to say that it is the most radical law on land among those adopted by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Some CIS member-states even do not dare to adopt a law on the transfer of land to the private ownership. But we have done it, giving land for private ownership. Each landowner has the right to sell his portion of land, or give it to somebody.

Privatization is carried out in full scope. Foreign companies, citizens of foreign states have equal rights with local citizens and companies for taking part in privatization. A good number of joint ventures have been created in the republic with the participation of foreign businessmen. The number of these joint ventures is really great. Among these, joint ventures and economic relations the U.S. occupies a special place. In 1994, we signed the biggest oil contract for the first time. It got the name of \"the Contract of the Century\". It was signed for 30 years, but it seems that its term will be prolonged not once.

This contract is participated by five American oil companies. One of the founders and initiator of this contract is Amoco. Our cooperation with Amoco is of great historical importance. I am very glad to be in the office of Amoco, to meet its high officials. I must note that it was the first contract.

On August 1, we signed four big contracts, all within one day. They were signed in the capital of the U.S., in the White House, which is an important place in the whole world. It is a historical event both for us and for the U.S. companies.

Now, when speaking to you I declare that Azerbaijan will pursue the road of market economy, market relations in future, too. No other form of economy can be restored in Azerbaijan.

You know that there appear ideas in Russia and other CIS countries to restore the former U.S.S.R., to return to the socialist system. You are to know what processes are going on in the space of the former Soviet Union. But I declare to you that in Azerbaijan there is no road back for Azerbaijan. We shall never allow the restoration of the socialist political and social system. Our political road is the road of democratic state building. Political pluralism, protection of human rights and basic liberties, freedom of consciousness, freedom of word and press and many others have been established in Azerbaijan and they will be consolidated further.

From the point of view of development of the economy of our republic, our aim is to create a market economy and follow it, to give freedom of action and independence to people. In general, we give freedom and independence to people and we shall expand granting of them in future as well. In order to revive and develop our economy, we try to apply to it the principles of the market economy, and to achieve it undoubtedly we strive to attract foreign investment to Azerbaijan. Fortunately, we are already witnessing the benefits.

As it was said here today, the investment of the U.S. companies in Azerbaijan soon will reach to one billion dollars. But in conformity with the signed contracts the total ammount of investments of the U.S. companies should be about 10 billion dollars. It is not only intended for the development of oil deposits, but also covers the output of oil. You must also know that the Caspian Sea is a basin rich in oil and gas reserves. Its oil and gas reserves continue to be explored day by day, year by year.

The countries of the Caucasus, Central Asia and those which encircle the Caspian Sea must cooperate in all areas. We are for cooperation. We have also opened a transport corridor that passes from the central Asia-the Caspian Sea-Azerbaijan- the Black Sea which then will follow to Europe. This transport corridor is already functioning. It is the restoration of the ancient \"Silk Road\". Through this corridor cargo is transported from the Central Asia to the remotest countries of Europe and back from Europe to the Central Asia. We have done lots of things in this area. We shall develop and expand this transport corridor further.

We also take steps to transport the oil produced in the basin of the Caspian Sea. Decisions have been adopted on the construction of two oil pipelines. One of them is already functioning, it lies from Baku through the territory of the Russian federation to the port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. The second pipeline is being built from Azerbaijan through the territory of Georgia to the port of Supsa. Both of these pipelines are for the transportation of the early oil. At present we are facing the construction of the main pipeline. As a result of realization of all the contracts Azerbaijan must export 60 million tons of oil in some years. Therefore construction of the route is from Azerbaijan to Turkey, then through the Mediterranean to the Turkish port of Jeyhan. There are other routes, too. But we prefer this one.

We are opening a corridor in Azerbaijan for the transportation of oil produced in Kazakhstan by the company \"Chevron-Tengiz\". And 1350 tons of oil has already been transported from Kazakhstan to Baku by tankers, which get delivered to the Black Sea by railway. As there is a big reserve of oil in \"Tengiz\" deposit. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan signed an agreement that provides transportation of oil by a pipeline to be constructed on the bed of the Caspian Sea. The shortest and most effective pipeline in future is also the one that may lie through the Caspian Sea and Azerbaijan transporting the oil from the Central Asia to the West, to Europe. We are for the development of this transport route in the future and are taking necessary steps toward it.

Many other U.S. companies together with the oil companies are cooperating with us. Caterpillar\'s president spoke of it here. They are doing a lot of work in Azerbaijan now and are determined to continue their efforts as well. The president of Motorola company is here. Motorola occupies a special place in Azerbaijan. The company will further expand the scope of its activities in Azerbaijan. Other companies have joined the realization process of all this contracts. You know that any oil company is followed by tens of other companies in order to realize the signed contracts.

Many companies may work in Azerbaijan. It is beneficial both for the U.S. and Azerbaijan. It will also expand our inter-country economic relations and develop them.

But there are factors which bar our effective cooperation. The main one of these factors is Section 907 adopted by the U.S. Congress against Azerbaijan in 1992. It is already five years that Azerbaijan has been deprived of any kind of assistance from the U.S. on the state level. You know that America gives financial and other forms of assistance to many countries, including the republics of the former Soviet Union. Our neighbors Armenia, Georgia, the republics of the Central Asia get 100 million dollars, or perhaps more than that financial aid. But Azerbaijan is deprived of this aid. It is a very serious paradox.

We brought the U.S. to Azerbaijan, to the Caspian Sea. Because of this, some of our neighbors have become offended. Now they accuse us why we have brought the U.S. companies to the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, and the Caucasus. On the other hand, the Congress of the U.S. has imposed an embargo on all kinds of assistance to Azerbaijan. We have dealt with this problem in recent years. And I am happy that finally these days an opinion has been formed in the U.S. public, in government circles, in Congress, that Section 907 is groundless and unjust against Azerbaijan. Some congressmen say that they do not know in what way the Section has been adopted in Congress and who has included it into the agenda of the Congress. They have voted for it without understanding the essence of the matter. We have heard all this. But let bygones be bygones. We have lived under deprivations for five years, and tolerated such a discrimination. But we cannot endure further.

During my stay in the U.S., I had meetings with more than 40 congressmen. I met the speaker of the House of Representatives Mr. Gingrich. I had comprehensive talks with Mr. Gilman, chairman of the Committee of International Relations. I had talks with several influential senators. They all told me that they will try to repeal this Section.

President Clinton has said it before and also declared it on August 1 that Section 907 must be repealed, and this idea has also found its expression in the document signed by us. Congressman from New York Mr. King has submitted a good bill for the removal of the Section. I suppose that the Congress, the U.S. government and other forces will join their efforts and try to repeal this Section in September. This Amendment is not only a discrimination against Azerbaijan, it obstacles the development of the USA-Azerbaijan economic relations. Therefore the U.S. companies, businessmen and investors in Azerbaijan must try to repeal this Section.

And finally I want to speak of one thing else. We have gained our independence, we are a sovereign state. We need peace in order live and develop as an independent state. Therefore the peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict is a basic problem for us. Unfortunately, there are forces which bar it.

It became evident at the beginning of this year that some high officials of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation have sold a great amount modern, dangerous arms and ammunition to Armenia illegally which are worth of US $1 billion. Of course, all this contradicts the peace negotiations of the three recent years, to the peace process, in general. This fact has been confessed by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and by other government circles of Russia. We declared our protest as we became aware of the fact. I have asked the Russian president to demand back the arms from Armenia.

You know that there are military bases, military detachments of Russia in Armenia. There are such military bases and detachments of Russia in the Caucasus, in Georgia as well. But in Azerbaijan there are no such bases and military units, and there shall never be. We are completely independent and shall defend our sovereignty by all means. But transfer of such an amount of dangerous weapons to our region has caused a great anxiety. The Senate of the U.S. has also considered this problem and adopted a corresponding decision. I suppose that the Senate will continue its initiative and make efforts for the solution of this problem. All this is necessary and very important to establish peace in the Caucasus, to solve the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict peacefully. We want the liberation of all the occupied territories, return of refugees and displaced persons to their native lands, restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and long-term, reliable peace with Armenia, in one word, we want to live in conditions of peace. I think that if such a peace is gained it will open great opportunities both for Armenia and Azerbaijan. I am sure that such a peace can be achieved between Azerbaijan and Armenia. And it will create strong foundations for the establishment of peace in our region, in the Caucasus. I am sure that President Clinton and the U.S. government will do their best toward the solution of this problem.

I want to express my pleasure with this meeting, with you here, today once more. I express my respect and appreciation to you. I invite you and all the businessmen of the U.S. companies to come to Azerbaijan, to start their business.

Azerbaijan has a beautiful landscape. Chicago is also beautiful. The same is true for Baku. There are many sightseeing in Azerbaijan. To see them, to enjoy them, will be a pleasure for each of you. I want to see you in Azerbaijan. I thank you once more. I wish more prosperity in Chicago. Now we are on the 80th floor. If you wish to rise higher, do it. You have won many records in the world. I wish the U.S. wouldn\'t raise the floors of buildings higher and higher, but to raise the might, the economy higher and higher. I wish you a strong health, happiness. I wish the people of the U.S. happiness and prosperity.

Today, Amoco gave me a very valuable present, a small statue of President Abraham Lincoln made of white marble. It is a very valuable gift for me. I know that President Lincoln had his special role in U.S. history. I fully agree with the president of Amoco that without the bravery, heroism and wisdom of Lincoln, the U.S. would have gone into pieces. Dividing the country is very dangerous. In his time, Lincoln saved the U.S. from splitting. Now we are trying to escape the danger of split. Like President Lincoln, we try to save Azerbaijan from splitting, and to maintain the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Therefore, this gift is very precious to me.

Now I want to give a present to Amoco. That is a painting of a famous Azerbaijani artist. It is a very interesting drawing. You know that Azerbaijan is an ancient oil country. Gas and oil were discovered in Azerbaijan hundreds of years ago. The first oil well gushed in Azerbaijan in 1848. It gushed in the U.S., in Pennsylvania, in 1852 or 1855. We are ahead of you. At that time, oil was extracted with such a great difficulty. We must not forget it. If people had not produced oil in such hard conditions, Azerbaijan would have not been an oil country.

Therefore, I present this picture to Amoco as a symbol of relations in the area of oil industry between Azerbaijan and the U.S. oil companies. I think that this picture will occupy a worthy place in your company.

You see, we began to extract oil by the way described in this picture. The oilmen of Azerbaijan had the first oil gush 50 years ago in the Caspian Sea, in the Oil Rocks. They discovered oil deposits in the Caspian Sea. We were pioneers in it, too. Now, at the end of the 20th century, it is Azerbaijan, the very Azerbaijan that introduces the rich oil deposits of the Caspian Sea to the world. In the past 50 years all the oil deposits of the Caspian Sea were explored and discovered by the oil workers of Azerbaijan.

Now, many oil companies of the world are involved in joint oil developments. All these are factors that closely connect our countries. I wish the relations of our countries grew further. I greet you once more and wish you happiness.

I toast to the U,S., to the American people, to the American oil companies, to the U.S. government, to President Clinton, my friend, and to all of you. Thank you.

Lawrence Fuller: Mr. President, I have been sent many questions to ask you. Many of them found their answers in your speech. I ask you, if possible answer the followings.

Question: Mr. President, can you share with us your impressions connected with your visit to the USA, to Washington, New York, Houston, Chicago. What do you think, was this visit a success? What novelties would you like to see during your next visit to the U.S.?

Answer: I want to say that it is my first official visit to the USA. The members of my delegation and I are fully satisfied with the visit. My assistants have counted that up to this day, to this minute, I had 75 meetings with different people in various places. My meetings will still continue today and tomorrow. If is a great achievement for me, because each meeting is businesslike in character, all of them have been devoted to the development of our U.S.-Azerbaijan relationship, each meeting follows the purpose to tell the truth about Azerbaijan. We are greatly pleased with all the days since July 27. We felt great hospitality, care and attention everywhere. All my meetings were held in the atmosphere of friendship and sincerity. I think that a friendliness, a sincerity have emerged in the Azerbaijan-U.S. relations.

We signed a document with President Clinton on the partnership of our countries. I think that it is the best result of my official visit.

I thank Mr. Bill Clinton and all persons with whom I had meetings. All the meetings held by us have created new opportunities for the development of relations between our countries. Our objectives in Azerbaijan, my own goal is to make an effective use of these opportunities. We are determined to do it.

I think that our relations will improve and rise to the highest level till I visit the U.S. next time. Then we shall be able to make bigger steps. I believe it. All relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan in all areas are based on long-term bases. We regard these relationships as necessary and very important. Thank you.

Lawrence Fuller: Mr. President, I congratulate you on the occasion of your official visit to the USA, on the great achievement you have gained during this visit. I thank you for your visit to the state of Illinois, to Chicago and for the meeting that you have arranged for us. Mr. President, we are grateful to you for the care and attention which you pay to the U.S. companies working in Azerbaijan.

Then a vase was presented to head of our nation as a gift on behalf of \"Motorola\" company.

Heydar Aliyev: The most important page of my official visit to the U.S. is that my grandson was born August 2 while I was here. It gives me great happiness. I thank you for your congratulations and I shall give this vase to my grandson as a present from you. 

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