Speech of Heydar Aliyev at the official reception dedicated to his election President of the ‎Republic of Azerbaijan - Gulustan Palace, October 18, 1998‎

Ladies and gentlemen! Friends!

Distinguished guests!

Today is a significant date in the history of Azerbaijan. Today is the seventh anniversary of the declaration of independence of Azerbaijan and the inauguration day of the Azerbaijani President elected by the popular election on 11 October.

The celebration of the two significant dates in the same day is up to Allah. But I think that it is not random. Because when declaring its independence seven years ago, Azerbaijan was not virtually independent. Our country just adopted the Constitutional Act on independence then, showing that it wants to live independently. It was a historic event. However, there was a hard road from declaring independence to living independently. Despite losses, complicated processes in the interior, the Azerbaijani people has passed this hard road successfully.

As a result of the negative processes launched in October 1991, which reached its peak in June 1993 Azerbaijan faced the civil war and threats of separation. 1993 was a decisive year for Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's situation then may be described with a famous phrase "to be or not to be" - it would maintain its independence or become defunct because of the civil war and the separatist forces. However, our nation demonstrated its wisdom, might, potential once again during that period; consequently, Azerbaijan was saved from the threats. The people who caused the threats and troubles then try to forget that hard period now. But our nation hasn't forgotten anything and will never forget.

I feel happy that I was appealed during that hard period for Azerbaijan. I carried out my duty as a citizen, demonstrating my faithfulness to the motherland and going through hardships. United we could save Azerbaijan. In that hard year the Azerbaijan people elected me the President. I am grateful to my people, Azerbaijani citizens for their trust throughout my life. The Azerbaijani people know that my life has been dedicated to serve Azerbaijan.

I have done my best serving Azerbaijan since 1993. That's why the Day of Independence and the inauguration ceremony of the President elected in the first presidential elections based on the Constitution of Azerbaijan are held in the same day - on 18 October.

Serving the nation, the motherland is a duty of every citizen. But it is a pride to be trusted and succeed that trust while serving. I have always considered serving my people faithfully as the meaning of my life. But everyone serving the nation, dreams to be evaluated. That has been my dream, too. I am happy that what I have done has been appreciated as an ordinary citizen of Azerbaijan, I have deserved the great trust of my people for tens of years. I state once again that serving the nation is a supreme duty for every citizen. However, not everyone succeeds being appreciated or trusted. But I am happy that my people have trusted me.

Today I am very grateful to my motherland, my people, our citizens for highly appreciating my deeds. I am grateful for your trust once again. I am the President of Azerbaijan democratically elected by our nation. I am proud of it. I thank the Azerbaijani people over and over again. Thus, I ask propose a toast for Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people.

Azerbaijan is my heart, my breath, my life. Every citizen can say words coming from his heart for Azerbaijan. My heart has always been filled with feelings related to Azerbaijan. These feelings can not be described. Even though the poetry of great Samed Vurgun do not cover them entirely. But still I want to repeat the verse by Samed Vurgun:

The who nation knows that you are mine:

You are my nest, my motherland and my hearth,

Can soul live outside of body?

Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan!

For Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people!

With a great pleasure I want to note that the inaugural ceremony of the President of Azerbaijan is attended by distinguished guests from the neighboring countries.

According to some traditions and diplomatic etiquette, no invitation for an inaugural ceremony is sent. However, the representatives of our neighboring and friendly countries have visited Azerbaijan and are present at this ceremony now. Naturally, this fact gladdens our people and me personally.

I am pleased that today the high-level delegations from the Russian Federation, the Turkish Republic, the Islamic Republic or Iran and the Republic of Georgia are sharing our joy. The presidents of the Caucasian republics of the Russian Federation have come to Azerbaijan, paying much attention to this event. It gladdens our public.

I am pleased to see the delegation of the Russian Federation here today. Many relations tie Russia and Azerbaijan. It is important for Azerbaijan to develop and strengthen the friendly relations with the Russian Federation. We shall pursue this policy for the interests of our states.

I am pleased that the high-level delegation of the Russian Federation consisting of Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Minister for Commonwealth of Independent State Affairs Boris Pastukhov, Vice-Speaker of the State Duma Mikhail Gutseriyev, People's Artist of Azerbaijan and Russia Lyudmila Zykina and many other friends of ours are present here.

I am glad that executive secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Boris Berezovsky is with us, too. This shows importance of our friendly relations for both Russians and Azerbaijanis. Today I state that we'll strengthen and develop our relations. Distinguished friends, I thank you for your presence here.

I am very pleased of the presence of the high-level delegation of fraternal Turkey. I am glad that the Turkish delegation is headed by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Cumhur Ersumer. I thank our friend Mr. Cumhur Ersimer, our brothers that have come from Turkey. I state once again that the friendly and fraternal relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan are perpetual and strong. We'll strengthen and develop our relations further.

The presence of the Georgian delegation headed by the speaker of the Georgian parliament, our friend Zurab Zhvania, also gladdens me. With a historical background, the Georgian-Azerbaijani friendship is a bright example for friendship, neighborhood and co-existence without any conflicts. We appreciate our inter-state relations. We'll do our best in order to strengthen and develop our relations.

I am pleased of the presence of the high-level delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran at this ceremony today. The participation of the presidents of the Caucasian republics at the inaugural ceremony of the President of Azerbaijan is a historical event. I highly appreciate it. It demonstrates solidarity of the Caucasian nations, reality of the idea of the "Caucasus House", possibility of establishment of peace and co-existence in the Caucasus. In the background of other events held in different parts of the region, it is exclusively important.

The meeting of the presidents of the Caucasian republics in Baku shows that we can unite our efforts for mutual agreement, peace and stability, as well as for the interests of the Caucasian nations. We, Caucasians need it more now. The Caucasus is a specific region of the world for its nature, multinationality, customs and historical background. Our nations have been co-existing and supporting one another in the Caucasus for centuries. Why should we not try to make the Caucasus a stable region as an example of peace-loving, tolerance and stability? I believe that we can do it, since we are together today.

I am cordially greeting the nations of Dagestan and their leader Magomedali Magomedov, who is our friend.

I am welcoming the Chechen people and their leader Aslan Maskhadov.

I am greeting the brave Ingush people and their leader Ruslan Aushev.

I am greeting the brave people of Kabardino-Balkaria, situated in the centre of the Caucasus. I am glad that their leader is our friend Valery Mukhamedovich Kokov. Today is his birthday. I am very pleased that he is in Azerbaijan with his friends on his birthday. We must appreciate it and celebrate Valery Kokov's birthday together.

I welcome our friend - President of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania Alexander Dzasokhov. When working in Moscow, he often visited Azerbaijan. He knows Azerbaijan well, as we know him well. His decisive victory in the recent presidential elections in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania was good news for us. I wish the Ossetian people happiness, and our friend Alexander Dzasokhov - more successes.

We are pleased of the presence of President of the Republic of Adygea Aslan Dzharimov. Adygea is a nice country. Unfortunately, it was part of the Krasnodar Krai. Currently, it is a republic within the Russian Federation. I welcome Aslan Dzharimov and wish the Adygean people successes.

We all are informed of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. In 1944 the Karachays were deported alongside the Chechens, the Ingush. I am pleased of the existence and development of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. I am sure that the brave Karachays and Cherkess will create their lives as they want in their beautiful country. We are pleased of the visit of President of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic Vladimir Khubiev.

It seems, I mentioned all the guests from the Caucasus. Did I forget somebody? As they are very important for me, I spoke about them with no interruption.

I am speaking about the Caucasus, its bright future once again. I think that we, Caucasians can make the Caucasus a peaceful, stable and prosperous region with out neighbors.

I propose a toast for Azerbaijan's friendship and cooperation with its neighbors, for the friendship and cooperation of the Caucasian nations, for freedom and independence. Azerbaijan is ready for this friendship. Azerbaijan will try to establish friendly relations with all the countries, live in peace and mutual understanding. You can be assured that Azerbaijan will do its best for peace, stability and friendly relations in the Caucasus.

For our guests! Dear friends, for you!