Washington marks 20th anniversary of Contract of the Century
By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan's embassy in the U.S., British BP, Azerbaijan's state energy giant SOCAR and United States - Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) organized a reception to honor the success of the Contract of the Century and the international partnership that guaranteed this success, in Washington on September 18.
The Contract, signed on September 20, 1994, marks the beginning of independent Azerbaijan's policy of energy diversification, initiated by late President Heydar Aliyev and symbolizes the success, gained by Azerbaijan in regional and international partnerships.
The contract signed in Baku with the participation of major energy companies and partner countries is still important and relevant after 20 years.
The event, held at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, one of the most prestigious cultural centers of the capital, was attended by the representatives of Obama Administration, top officials of U.S. State Department and Department of Energy, congressmen, representatives of diplomatic corps, academic circles as well as members of the business community.
Opening the ceremony, the speakers highlighted the historical significance of the deal, its successful implementation and achievements to date.
Ambassador Elin Suleymanov underlined the signing of the "Contract of the Century" under Heydar Aliyev's strong leadership as an important step to export the hydrocarbon resources of the Caspian to international markets.
Suleymanov noted that the event honoring the 20th Anniversary of the "Contract of the century" that will be held in Baku on September 20 will mark yet another date in the history of the contract.
He informed the audience about the groundbreaking ceremony of Southern Gas Corridor to be held in Baku on September 20 and expressed his believe this event will be the beginning of a new era for all the region and participant countries.
Bill Delahunt, former Congressman and new USACC Co-Chairman and Susan Sadigova, USACC Executive Director spoke about the contribution the contract had made to the development of Azerbaijan and the whole region.
Members of U.S. Congress - Jim Moran, Ruben Hinojosa, Andre Carson, Henry Cuellar and Donald Payne - expressed their support for the development of U.S.-Azerbaijan relations, stressed the leading role of Azerbaijan in the region and congratulated it with the success of "Contract of the Century".
Reflecting on his first trip to Azerbaijan before the "Contract of the Century" was signed 20 years ago, Jim Moran commended on the enormous development Azerbaijan made during this period and recommended everyone to visit Azerbaijan.
Ruben Hinojosa highlighted the work implemented under the President of the Azerbaijan with the focus on turning "black gold into human capital".
Andre Carson praised the contribution Azerbaijan was making in the energy security of Europe.
Congressmen Pete Gallego, Mike Fitzpatrick and Steve Stockman also attended the event and expressed their support to Azerbaijan.
Joe Murphy, Vice President of Southern Corridor for Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey and Michael Hoffman, External Affairs Director for Trans-Adriatic Pipeline reminded the pessimistic views expressed about the "Contract of the Century" in the past and added that the success of the contract proves that Southern Gas Corridor groundbreaking ceremony to be held in a few days will be as successful.
Amos Hochstein, Acting Special Envoy of U.S. Department of State, Jonathan Elkind, Assistant Secretary for International Affairs of Department of Energy and Eric Rubin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Department of State reminded the crucial and consistent support the U.S. government extended to the "Contract of the Century" and its role in the strong cooperation between U.S. and Azerbaijan.
Hochstein, who will be attending the event honoring 20th Anniversary of the contract in Baku and Jonathan Elkind, who was the participant of the signing ceremony of the contract in Baku 20 years ago, spoke about the future perspectives of Southern Gas Corridor.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Rubin stressed the importance given to Azerbaijan by the U.S. and said he believed these relations are based on constructive partnership, mutual respect, understanding and support.
The event continued with the performance of Azerbaijan's talented jazz pianist Emil Afrasiyab and the national dances performed by Silk Road Dance Group.