Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Others
Remarks at Initialing of Host Government Agreement for Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline
Washington, DC, April 28, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
AMBASSADOR WOLF: Good afternoon. I'm John Wolf. We are here today to witness the initialing of Georgia's Host Government Agreement. It is the final piece of the framework documents for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline.
We are pleased to have with us today Georgia's Foreign Minister, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister, the Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs for Turkey, as well as Ambassadors Pashayev, Ilkin, Ugur, and a representative of the Kazakhstan Embassy.
It goes without saying that we are honored, Madame Secretary, by your presence, as well as the presence of Leon Fuerth, representing the Vice President.
The procedure will now be to sign the signature page, and then you all can wait to initial all of the rest. After you initial that one page, we will have short remarks by the Secretary of State, Minister Menagharishvili and Leon Fuerth.
(The Signature Page is Signed.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I am very, very pleased to be able to witness this ceremony, and I would simply like to underscore President Clinton's congratulations to Presidents Shevardnadze, Aliyev and Demirel on the conclusion today's of Georgia's Host Government Agreement for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan line.
This agreement marks a major step forward in the evolution of the East-West energy corridor which, in turn, can help to foster democracy, stability and peace throughout this region. The importance of this event is reflected in the presence of the Foreign Minister of Georgia, Irakli Menagharishvili; the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Vilayat Gouliyev; and, Under Secretary Mithat Balkan of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and, Ambassadors Japaridze, Pashayev and Ilkin.
Our support for this pipeline, like our overall Caspian strategy, is designed to encourage regional cooperation -- not only among Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, but Kazakhstan and Russia as well.
I want to congratulate the heads of delegation here today for their commitment and that of their leaders to this spirit of cooperation based on shared economic and security interests. Sustaining this spirit will be crucial as we all carry this project to its next critical phase: its test in the market place. Working together, we will build on the framework completed today and make the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline a reality.
FOREIGN MINISTER MENAGHARISHVILI: Your Excellency, Madame Secretary; Excellencies, the Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen. Let me first of all congratulate all of you with this really remarkable event, and; first of all, on behalf of His Excellency, President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, express my deepest gratitude for all you have done in achieving this goal, in realization of our common task, realization of those ideas which just a couple of years ago might be deemed as a fantasy. But we have done it because of our mutual support, because of our belief that this is the only way how our region, our countries and our nations will achieve prosperity, real democracy, cooperation, and achieve those goals we are striving to. Thank you very much.
I would like to express special thanks to our dear colleague, Ambassador Wolf, and all [the] team of our American colleagues, as far as they have been so helpful and instrumental for all of us. Thank you, and congratulations once again.
But, today, I think we have to realize quite clearly that there is a lot ahead. And on behalf of Georgian nation, on behalf of Georgian state, I would assure you that we are ready to work together in order to help this great project [be] accomplished fully.
MR. FUERTH: I had the pleasure of being able to inform the Vice President by phone of this event, which is a major milestone in the progress of a concept to which he has paid a great deal of attention and which he invests a great deal of hope. He has asked me to convey his regards to those present and to say that he salutes an act of great strategic vision and of statecraft among the participating countries, and believes that today they have taken an important step towards assuring their prosperity and their stability and the happiness of their people in the future. And he congratulates all concerned.
AMBASSADOR WOLF: Thank you very much. That concludes the ceremony. To show that cooperation starts from right now -- oh, I'm sorry. Cooperation continues right now.
FOREIGN MINISTER GOULIYEV: Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, today we are participating in a historic day. Today, we have arrived at a very important point in the process -- the marathon which started at the Summit in Istanbul in November, 1999. And the point today that we have reached in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project is one more point which strengthens our hopes which are associated with the implementation of this project.
And I congratulate all those who have been working on this project and on these documents on behalf of Mr. Heydar Aliyev, the esteemed President of the Azerbaijan Republic. And also on behalf of all of us, I wish to congratulate the Presidents Clinton, Shevardnadze, Aliyev and Demirel who have worked tirelessly and shown devotion and great labor in the implementation of this project.
Indubitably, the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project will radically increase the prosperity of the countries of the region. However, this project is important not only because of its economic aspects, because the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project will also serve the cause of peace and stability in the region. It will also make an important contribution to the security of the region. It will also provide a new boost to the democratic processes in the region. It will also accelerate the integration into the West. And after Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, other projects will transport the Caspian energy resources to the world markets. And this project will help to bring our peoples, our countries, our nations, our cultures, closer together.
I once more reiterate that this is a truly historic date and, once again, congratulate you all from the bottom of my heart on this occasion.
AMBASSADOR WOLF: I sense that I better invite our ally and friend, and close working partner, Mithat Balkan, to say a word or two.
UNDER SECRETARY BALKAN: Thank you very much. It was about six months ago that our Presidents came together in Istanbul and signed all the documents necessary to forge ahead the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. There was one link missing, and today we have been able to conclude that link, by the instructions of our Presidents.
Now we have before us a package which we believe is commercially viable, economic, and is very attractive for the sponsors and companies. And we are hoping that they will now be able to examine these documents and come together with us, work with us, towards the realization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. I think, in that respect, today we have been able to make a very important step ahead in the realization of this great project which will bind the peoples, the states, of the region, and help us in achieving the stability and peace in that part of the world.
We are also grateful to the US Administration, starting with President Clinton, Ms. Albright and Ambassador Wolf, in helping us to come so far. And we are hoping that the three countries, again with the contributions of the United States, will be able to realize the project. And, still, we know we still have important and challenging tasks ahead, but the steps we have been able to take so far make us confident that we will be able to realize this project in the very near future and, in the year 2004, the oil that will be flowing at Ceyhan in Turkey, starting at least from Baku.
Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR WOLF: Madame Secretary, Ministers, Ambassadors, and all, thank you very much for attending.
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