President: If Azerbaijan had been an independent country then, we could have become the richest country in the world

Baku, September 19, AZERTAC

As reported earlier, on September 19, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Absheron field offshore operations at the Heydar Aliyev Baku Deep Water Jackets Plant.

After the ceremony, the head of state gave an interview to Azerbaijan Television, Public Television and Real Television.

AZERTAC is publishing some excerpts from the interview of President Ilham Aliyev:

“Azerbaijan is the country where oil was industrially produced for the first time in the middle of the 19th century. In the middle of the 20th century, for the first time in history, oil was produced from an offshore field in Azerbaijan. But if we look at history, we will see that the oil produced in Azerbaijan at that time did not serve the interests of the Azerbaijani people.”

“If we had been an independent country then, I am sure that Azerbaijan could have become the richest country in the world. But we were not independent. It is true that wealthy oil tycoons spent a part of their income on charity at the time, especially Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, Mukhtarov, Asadullayev.”

“My grandfather Aziz Aliyev was born into a poor family in the ancient Azerbaijani land of Iravan Khanate and wanted to study. But he did not have the money to do so. At that time, he wrote a letter to Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, asking him to provide him with financial assistance. He wanted to be a doctor. Of course, Taghiyev did not know him but as a patriot and a kind person, he sent him money, and with that money Aziz Aliyev entered St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy where he studied, became a great doctor and a prominent statesman.”

“At that time, there were many Armenians among Baku's oil magnates. In many cases, they spent the money they had earned in Azerbaijan against the interests of the Azerbaijani people. Thus, during Tsarist Russia, the income of the Azerbaijani people from oil was zero.”

“If Azerbaijan had not lost its state independence in 1920, I think it would still be one of the richest countries. Because the oil produced in Azerbaijan at that time made up the majority in the world oil market. However, in 1920 the independence was lost and Azerbaijani oil did not help the Azerbaijani people. At that time, especially during the war, people working in the oil fields lived in very difficult conditions and worked day and night. I can cite a figure that during the war, Azerbaijan produced a record level of oil - 23 million tons.”

“Azerbaijani oil workers have made an exceptional contribution to the victory of the Soviet army in World War II. Because at that time, 80 percent of the Soviet Union's fuel was provided by Azerbaijan. Also, 90 percent of lubricants were provided by Azerbaijan. Military equipment was produced in Azerbaijan, more than 300,000 Azerbaijanis were killed in this war. But look at the situation we were faced with when the Soviet Union collapsed: rundown oil infrastructure. Today's presentation shown to me stated that Oil Rocks will be given a new life because the Absheron field will be linked to the Oil Rocks. But what state were the Oil Rocks in back then? I remember first visiting Oil Rocks as President in 2004. The situation was difficult. All the platforms had eroded and fallen apart. Working there was very difficult and dangerous. Oil production declined and gas production did not meet the needs of our country. Half of Baku was left without gas. As far as the regions are concerned, there was no such thing as gas there at all.”

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