Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the TANAP-Europe connection opening ceremony30 november 2019, 17:00
Dear President of the Republic of Turkey, my dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan!
Dear Heads of State and Government!
First of all, I want to express my deep appreciation to my brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the invitation to this historic ceremony and for this hospitality. I am very glad to be on fraternal Turkish soil again.
It is a historic day today. TANAP, the foundation of which we laid four years ago, reached the border with Europe today. I sincerely congratulate all of us on this occasion. I am sure that the life of TANAP will be long, it will bring benefits and progress to the people of Turkey and Azerbaijan, and to neighboring nations.
Four years ago, together with my dear brother President Erdogan, we laid the foundation of TANAP in Kars. However, the road leading to TANAP began back in 2012. Thanks to the historic Istanbul Agreement, the TANAP project was given the green light. The historic Istanbul Agreement was made possible thanks to the joint political will of Turkey and Azerbaijan because before the adoption of this decision on TANAP major arguments and discussions related to the transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Turkey and from there to Europe had lasted for several years but did not produce any results. Then, together with my dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we decided to implement the giant project we needed on our own. And it happened. BP, which has now joined this project, is our partner. However, the main technical and financial burden was assumed by Azerbaijan and Turkey.
The joint work done before TANAP had opened the way for it because if the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline had not been commissioned in 2006, it would hardly be possible to talk about TANAP today. The leader of the modern Azerbaijani state, Heydar Aliyev, laid the foundation for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline with his own hands, and in 2006, together with my dear brother President Erdogan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was commissioned in Ceyhan. To date, more than 450 million tons of oil from Azerbaijan and other countries have been transported to the Turkish and world markets via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Most of this, more than 400 million tons, is Azerbaijani oil, 27 million tons is Turkmen oil, 12 million tons is Kazakh oil and 7 million tons is Russian oil. In a word, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan has become an excellent infrastructure project not only for Azerbaijani oil, but also for other countries, and it is successfully functioning today. In 2007, my dear brother and I opened the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, and this was another project that paved the way for TANAP. As I have already noted, the construction of TANAP began in Kars in 2015. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to everyone who took part in this construction. Their dedication and professionalism have played a huge role in the timely commissioning of this giant project.
TANAP is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor is a gigantic $38 billion infrastructure project consisting of four projects. Three of them – Shah Deniz and the South Caucasus Pipeline – have been commissioned, and TANAP is being fully commissioned today. The implementation of the fourth project, TAP, already exceeds 90 percent. I am sure that TAP will also be put into operation in a timely manner. Thus, one of the largest infrastructure projects in Eurasia, the Southern Gas Corridor, will be put into operation in a timely manner.
I should note that the implementation of these projects is the result of the joint political will of Turkey and Azerbaijan. At the same time, we have implemented them with the participation of other countries and with the financial support of private companies. Today, the Southern Gas Corridor links seven countries – it is already a project of international cooperation. This project will create bridges between countries and pave the way for even greater mutual understanding. The seven countries participating in this project – three of them are members of the European Union – will work together for many years and benefit from it. In other words, this project leads to cooperation, stability, long-term mutual understanding, and it would be wrong to view these projects simply as energy projects. I should also note that our energy projects have opened the way for other projects. Two years ago, my dear brother President Erdogan and I opened the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in Baku. At present, this railway transports cargoes of Azerbaijan, Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and China. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway connects continents. Just like our pipelines do. Another project is related to the transmission of electricity. Azerbaijan is already exporting electricity to Georgia and Turkey. If there were no energy projects, if there were no stability, mutual support and mutual understanding in our region, then none of these projects could be implemented.
The Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood are getting stronger every day. I do not know of any other countries in the world that would be as close to each other as Turkey and Azerbaijan. The trade between us is growing. In nine months of this year, trade has increased by more than 40 percent to reach $3.4 billion. Mutual investments testify to our brotherhood and also show that we rely on each other. We support each other's economies. To date, Turkey has invested more than $12 billion in the economy of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has invested $17.5 billion in Turkey. These investments improve the well-being of our peoples.
At the same time, Turkey is an open country and a very favorable place for foreign investment today. Thanks to the leadership of my dear brother President Erdogan, Turkey has made great strides both in the economic and political spheres. We remember the old days quite well. At that time, Turkey could not get rid of its debt to the International Monetary Fund and other financial organizations, depended on them. Economic dependence can, perforce, lead to political dependence. It is thanks to the thoughtful economic policy pursued by President Erdogan that Turkey managed to get rid of this dependence and now has its say as a powerful economy in the world. Today, Turkey is a power house on a global scale. The authority of Turkey is growing not only in its region but throughout the world. Its capabilities are expanding, everyone should know this and no-one should forget who this fraternal country owes this to.
Quite a few books have been written about the role of leaders in history, scientific works have been created, there are various opinions and theories. All of them are viable. But history shows that the role of a leader in many cases is crucial – this is undeniable. Today, powerful Turkey and its leader personify development and stability and allow it the opportunity to look to the future with optimism. We are pleased with this because the strength of Turkey means our own strength, the success of Turkey is our own success. We will continue to walk shoulder to shoulder as two fraternal countries. All horizons are open before us. The giant projects implemented testify to our strength and increase our power. Economic power eventually transforms into political power.
TANAP and the Southern Gas Corridor are also about energy security. Today, energy security is spoken about on a global scale. This issue has entered the world agenda. I believe that an excellent format for cooperation has been created here. Azerbaijan as a producing country, transit countries and consumer countries work together. We have the same interests and the income is distributed fairly. I want to say again: all these projects strengthen stability.
I am sure that all of the joint projects we will implement afterwards will be as successful as TANAP, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars. Turkey and Azerbaijan will confidently march into the future.
Long live Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood!