Eduard Shevardnadze

Former President of Georgia

The 21st century began with the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline. This is one of the most important events in the centuries-old history of the states of Azerbaijan, Türkiye, and Georgia. This is one of the biggest achievements of Georgia in 10 years since independence. On behalf of the Georgian people, I express my deep gratitude to the cause of this ceremony, the main creator of this important project, the well-known leader of the Azerbaijani people, a true friend of my nation, my brother Heydar Aliyev. I have said many times and I repeat once again that without Baku-Supsa, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project would not have been possible, so I thank my friend, my brother Heydar Aliyev and the fraternal people of Azerbaijan.

The East-West Energy Corridor could not have been realized without President Heydar Aliyev’s heroism, wisdom, perseverance, and unwavering devotion to the goal. During the past period, President Heydar Aliyev has not withdrawn his support for the energy corridor. His determination to make the pipelines a reality has made it possible to properly carry out these large and important works. The vision of Heydar Aliyev, a brilliant world-class politician, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the basic laws and ways of developing the state and the country’s economy, vast and unparalleled leadership experience, loyalty to his people, and endless love for the Motherland made it possible to create a grandiose project that has no analogs in the world in terms of its scale, at the same time gave him the opportunity to become its real leader and executor. Our antagonists did not want this project to be realized. Therefore, they did not shy away from acts of provocation. It was the President of Azerbaijan who withstood all this and once again demonstrated his determination to the world. Thus, these antagonists failed to achieve their goals then and will not be able to achieve them in the future.

My friends know, I often tell them that I need something. I feel like I need to meet you. This happens very often. We have built our relationship over the past 30 years. Call this relationship what you want – a brotherhood, a special relationship between colleagues, or maybe all of them. The members of my delegation can confirm how much you are loved in Georgia, and what a great attitude has been created towards you, thanks to which we can openly discuss any issue related to one country, another country, or an entire region seriously and with deep knowledge.

You are a little older than me. I don’t know if this is good or bad. I don’t mention it by accident because I remember. You were the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan 3 years before me. At that time, like you, I was also young, I observed how Aliyev fought to increase the economic potential of Azerbaijan, how he succeeded in this, and how it was appreciated throughout the union.

Let my friends know that, when a decision was made about the necessity of implementing certain changes in Georgia, the decisive word was the word of Heydar Aliyev. When consultations began on what measures to take regarding Georgia and the leadership of Georgia, it was Heydar Aliyev who took the risk and said that there was no need to look for anyone, there is a person, and you can work with him.

Well, since then we have been working together, it was a long time ago, and there were great difficulties. But I don’t think that we cannot be proud of the work we did together in the Soviet Union.

As for the remaining areas – I remember which areas you were responsible for – everyone knew that since Aliyev started the work, this work would be brought to its logical end. Why did I have to remember these aspects of our joint work right now?! Because when you came to the leadership, the situation in Azerbaijan was difficult. The situation in Georgia was also very difficult, very difficult. It literally fell apart. However, there was no rule of law in Azerbaijan either. Therefore, the people themselves decided who should lead this great, powerful country with great potential. I remember the first meetings that we had in the early years of independence when we were just starting to fight together and work together to build an independent state. We have become partners in this work, and I am proud of it.

You know that I often disturb you by calling you on the phone. I am sending my representative for advice to you, who will help resolve complex issues and give wise guidance. That’s why I’m really proud of our relationship. I think that we are doing historic work, laying the foundation for friendship and brotherhood between two independent states.

Now, if we approach the matter more closely, I think future generations will remember the decisions made on your initiative and with my participation.

Some major countries put a great deal of pressure and interest in the flow of Caspian oil to the West. Then I turned to Heydar Aliyev. I specifically came here and asked him only one question: “Can I be assured that you support this idea – the construction of an oil pipeline in the direction of the West?” Then Heydar Aliyev said you are not the only one thinking about this, I made a firm decision that there will be two directions – the northern direction and the very important western direction of Baku-Supsa, be sure that there will be full support. Indeed, this oil pipeline was built in a very short period of time. I am sure that if there had been no Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, maybe there would not have been Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan either, because this was a test step and it should have shown whether these two countries were capable of building such an oil pipeline under such conditions.

I was in a somewhat dubious mood about the pipeline. Because they always scared me and said that the World Bank is advising one thing, and we are doing another, and so on. If you remember, your representatives were with me and I told them what Heydar Aliyev said would happen. Let the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund say what they want, Heydar Aliyev will do as he says. Heydar Aliyev said that this is beneficial for Azerbaijan, Türkiye, and as well as for Georgia. This morning I reviewed the terms agreed upon by our advisors. I think this is an ideal agreement. Especially for Georgia, which does not have oil and gas, but only water, I cannot say that we have suddenly become a country at the center of attention or a hub country. Now they recognize Georgia as a country with a function. This function lies in the fact that Georgia must pass oil and gas flowing through its territory. Thanks to your activities, and your initiative, our country is becoming a key country on the revived Great Silk Road. The first conference dedicated to the Silk Road was held here in Baku, and I also advocated holding a conference in Baku, because you have done more work for it than anyone else.

Only later will people recognize what a big role the phenomenon of Heydar Aliyev played in the cause of the independence and freedom of the Caucasus.

Heydar Aliyev is dear to us for his services to the world, as an internationally recognized politician and statesman, and as a friend of Georgia and the Georgian people. As our newspapers write “Aliyev with a will of steel”, he is indeed a rare personality with a will of steel. Thanks to his courage, Azerbaijan is becoming a strong, independent, and prosperous country. Heydar Aliyev again entered the political arena in the difficult and troublesome times of Azerbaijan, he overcame many hardships and saved Azerbaijan from a crisis situation.

In front of our friend, our brother, the President of Azerbaijan, I want to admit that a few years ago, unfair actions were taken against the Azerbaijanis living in Georgia. As a man of honor, I promise the President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, that those dark days will not be repeated again in Georgia. The real happiness of the Azerbaijani people is that in the most difficult and critical time of the nation and state, the outstanding politician and great personality Heydar Aliyev took responsibility. You create for yourself an incomparable monument, an eternal monument that will live for centuries. The name of this monument is Azerbaijan, progressive, new, happy Azerbaijan.

Heydar Aliyev has been exerting a decisive and positive influence on the life of his country and other countries for more than 30 years. I want to emphasize the role played by Azerbaijan after its independence.

President Heydar Aliyev follows this path with the endurance and courage characteristic of his people. I want to express my gratitude to President Heydar Aliyev for his wisdom and far-sightedness, as I am well acquainted with all the details of this agreement, from the creation of the idea of the “Contract of the Century” to the transportation of the first oil. Without this wisdom and foresight, such a grandiose project would hardly have taken place.

The 20th century is the century of leaders, and Heydar Aliyev is the leader of our century.