Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the official reception on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey - «Gulustan» Palace, October 29, 1997

Dear Ambassador,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished guests,

I cordially congratulate you on the 74th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic. I wish you, the Turkish people and the Turkish Republic continuous success.

The Turkish people and citizens have passed together a long and glorious path for 74 years. In the words of my dear friend Suleyman Demirel, 74 years ago, during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, «from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire there emerged the first republic in the Muslim East, the Republic of Turkey.» The creators of the Republic of Turkey have shown great courage throughout the world and have opened a tremendous opportunity for the future of the Turkish people. The Turkish Republic was formed as a result of the will of the Turkish people, heroism and wisdom of great Mustafa Kamala Ataturk and the victory of the liberation struggle in difficult conditions. When the Turkish Republic was established, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk said: «Our people will be happy, succeed and win.» Now we are witnessing the implementation of these words. You built a democratic and secular state in Turkey. It occupies a prominent place in the world community in the field of development of its democracy, protection of human rights and economic development.

The 74-year-old road of the Turkish Republic was difficult and complicated. But the will of the Turkish people and great public figures that led the Republic of Turkey, helped it to survive in these grave conditions, to develop and to raise the level of the country, which occupies a prominent place in the world community. Turkey is a country developed in all areas and its achievement is evident. In 1950 the average per capita income in Turkey was $ 50 and now it is 5000 dollars. These are the achievements of the Turkish economy.

Turkey in terms of population is on the 16th place and in terms of its territory is in the 32nd place in the world. It means that it is a great country and a member of all the international organizations. We hope that Turkey will successfully complete its work and achieve membership in the European Community. The Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherly relations have a great and rich history. We appreciate it. Our past and present are of friendly and brotherly nature. After gaining independence Azerbaijan worked closely with Turkey in all the fields and our friendly and brotherly relations will grow stronger day by day. Turkey is a friendly and dear country for us, it is a country which first recognized the national independence of Azerbaijan, a fraternal country that constantly supports Azerbaijan in the road of national independence and helps it. We felt it in all the fields. We consider these friendly and fraternal relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan very important for our peoples and countries. The further expansion of these relations is the task of our nation in future.

Since the armed occupation of Azerbaijan by Armenia, Turkey has always been with us. We highly appreciate the moral support of Turkey in this field, its support of Azerbaijan's position in international organizations and the ongoing cooperation in this area with us. Turkey is a member of the Minsk Group of OSCE established for the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. As part of the Minsk Group, Turkey has always worked actively for a just and peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. We constantly keep in touch with Turkey in resolving this issue. Accepting the recent proposals of the Minsk Group, we are well aware that the Republic of Turkey and its people are the supporters of the adoption of these proposals to resolve this issue peacefully.

The position of Turkey in connection with the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is important for us because of the fact that Turkey demonstrates a unity with Azerbaijan.

Turkey has not established any diplomatic relations with Armenia, the Turkish people and the government have repeatedly stated that until the liquidation of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, the liberation of the occupied lands of Azerbaijan and until restoration of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan there cannot be established any relations with Armenia. We appreciate it. The Heads of Turkey and the government have repeatedly stated it. President of Turkey, our dear friend and brother Suleyman Demirel has worked closely with us in defending the position of Azerbaijan in international organizations, including the Lisbon Summit of OSCE and helped us. In all other issues they confirmed the unity of Turkey and Azerbaijan.

During my meeting with the Prime Minister of Turkey Messud Yilmaz on 10-11 October, in Strasbourg at the Summit of the Council of Europe it was confirmed once more. Once again, it was stated that the peaceful resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is important for Azerbaijan, as it is significant for Turkey and until the solution of the conflict no relations between Turkey and Armenia can exist. All this suggests that the Turkish government and its people accept Azerbaijan as its brother and friend, appreciate the position of Azerbaijan as its own and show appropriate attitude.

I hope that our joint efforts, the work carried out will ensure a peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and we shall achieve peace in our country. We have repeatedly stated that Azerbaijan remains a supporter of peaceful resolution of this issue. The last time I said this in Strasbourg in the Summit of the Council of Europe and in Chisinau at the Summit of CIS. Today I declare it once more that we want to solve this conflict peacefully, on the basis of the principles adopted at the Lisbon Summit. The recent proposals of the Minsk Group were to resolve the issue in two stages. In the first phase, the liberation of six districts of Azerbaijan and the return of refugees to their homes. In the second phase, the release of Shusha and Lachin and along with it, the provision of a high-self-governing status to Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan. We have accepted them. It pleases us that the government of the Republic of Armenia has also accepted them. The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan made joint statement on this issue in Strasbourg. All this brought us closer to the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict peacefully and gave us great hope.

Much has been done to achieve it and reach today's level in the recent years. In this case, the Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation has always played an important role in the implementation of the case. I am confident that we shall achieve a peaceful solution of this issue, establishment of peace in the Caucasus and then, friendly and brotherly relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan will reach even greater heights with new opportunities.

We have taken the achievements of Turkey as a model for the construction of a new independent Azerbaijan. In the process of state building in Azerbaijan, establishment of democracy, market economy and resolution of all questions, life experience and achievements of the independent Turkish Republic have been a great example for us.

On this holiday, I express my gratitude to the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish people for brotherly and friendly relations with our country and people. I wish happiness and peace to Turkish people. I wish the Republic of Turkey to follow the path laid by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk more successfully. Once more, I cordially congratulate you and wish you good health and happiness. Thank you.

«Heydar Aliyev: Our independence is eternal» (speeches, statements, interviews, letters, addresses, decrees) - «Azerneshr», volume 12, Baku - 1998, p. 381

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