Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the Bulgarian National Assembly - Sophia, June 29, 1995

Distinguished chairman of the Bulgarian parliament Mr. Sendov, members of the parliament, ladies and gentlemen!

On behalf of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani people, I sincerely greet all of you, and all the Bulgarian people in your person and convey the greetings and tribute of the Azerbaijani people to your people and country.

Accepting the invitation of Jelyu Jelev, President of Bulgaria, I came to your country on an official visit, and we cooperate usefully for some hours. Distinguished President Jelyu Jelev and I signed a very important agreement on friendship and cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. Besides, several agreements were also signed for the improvement of our economies and economic contacts. I think that the signature of these agreements is a new stage of development of contacts between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria.

The Republic of Azerbaijan is independent for 3 years, and it could once again regain its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union which it achieved in 1918. Our people consider its independence and freedom as historical achievements and are determined of make its independence eternal. Therefore, I want to declare that this independence of Azerbaijan will be eternal. Being an independent state, Azerbaijan is going to be a democratic and civil country. We establish a juridical society, protection of human rights and all kinds of freedom form the basis of our state policy and ongoing processes in our country. In the sphere of economy, Azerbaijan follows the road of market economy and is engaged in the realization of economic reforms. We have started reforms in the sphere of agriculture and adopted the program of privatization and we shall begin its realization in near future. There is political pluralism in our society, all freedoms have been ensured. A multiparty system was established in our country. There are over 40 political parties, and hundreds of newspapers are published to ensure political pluralism.

Our steps in the sphere of economy open our republic to the world economy and create all necessary conditions for foreign investments. From this point of view, I want to tell you about the great contracts signed between the Republic of Azerbaijan and leading Western oil companies. Joint exploration of oil reserves of the sector of the Caspian Sea, belonging to Azerbaijan, our country`s profiting from it and foreign companies` investment in the economy of Azerbaijan has been viewed in this contract.

I want to say that all conditions have been created for foreign investment in our republic, necessary laws adopted as well. Thus, we invite all the foreign countries to invest in Azerbaijan.

The present year, that is 1995, is of special importance for us for the development of democratic principles. The first democratic parliament elections will held in Azerbaijan on November 12 and these elections will take place on the basis of democratic principles and multiparty system. A new democratic constitution of Azerbaijan also will be adopted on the same day. We work on this constitution now. Constitution lays the foundation for the development of a juridical and democratic state in Azerbaijan.

The Republic of Azerbaijan is a multinational country. All nationalities in Azerbaijan enjoy equal rights and participate equally in state structures and public organizations irrespective of their nationality, language and political views.

Perhaps, you know from the mass media that socio-political processes were very bitter, there were struggles for power, authorities changed three times and there were two attempts of coup within one year. But the present government of Azerbaijan overcame them and is able to overcome in future too. The socio-political situation is stable in Azerbaijan now.

One can characterize the present socio-economic situation in Azerbaijan as critical. Azerbaijan is like your country, like other former countries which belonged to socialist economy. Transition from one socio-political and economic system to another is very hard and difficult. It created great and serious problems in our country.

Transition period is difficult for Azerbaijan. Because, there are seven years that Republic of Armenia has committed aggression against Republic of Azerbaijan. Republic of Armenia started a military aggression against Azerbaijan on purpose to seize Nagorno-Karabakh, a part of its territory since 1988. There were great losses and bloodshed as a result of this aggression and 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory was occupied by the Armenia`s armed forces. More than one million Azerbaijani citizens have been forced out of the occupied territories and they live in very hard conditions in other regions of Azerbaijan now.

Azerbaijan is a peaceful country and we don`t have en eye on Armenia`s or other neighboring countries lands. But we also cannot give away our lands to another country. Therefore, we guard our territorial integrity and defend our lands, and we wage this war for only for self-defense. More than 700 hundreds houses, settlements and villages were ruined, historical monuments, plants, factories and living houses destroyed in the territories occupied by the Armenia`s armed forces. Azerbaijan has suffered great material and moral damages.

Despite all these losses and damages, Azerbaijan wants to settle the conflict with Armenia peacefully. That is why we hold peace talks. I want to tell you with pleasure that last year a ceasefire agreement was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The ceasfire regime continues for 13 months and we are faithful to it and it will continue until achieving great peace. To achieve a reliable, long lasting peace, we hold negotiations with Armenia in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and we are sure that these negotiations will bring results and finally we will achieve peace.

But we have major conditions for achieving this peace. They are just ones: the territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of Azerbaijan must be ensured and Armenia`s armed forces pull out of the occupied territories and more than million refugees return home. Along with it, we are ready to guarantee security of the Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, as a precondition of reliable peace. We have given relevant statements about granting them certain autonomy. Henceforth, Nagorno-Karabakh must stay as an inseparable part of Azerbaijan, and the people of Armenian origin residing there will have an opportunity to live as citizens of Azerbaijan.

Our proposals are just and İ hope that the world community and states, including Bulgaria, as a member of the OSCE will assist Azerbaijan in the solution of these issues and establishing peace in our region.

Azerbaijan has already occupied its worthy place in the world community and conducts its peaceful and progressive policy in the international organizations as a member of them.

I want to assure you that Republic of Azerbaijan will further guard its state independence and will follow the path of establishing mutually profitable contacts of with all countries.

Distinguished parliamentarians, our interpreter is not well experienced, so I will deliver final part of my speech in Russian. We don`t have a special interpreter.

Sayavush Mammadzade is one of the prominent poets of Azerbaijan and he translates poems of Bulgarian poets into Azerbaijani. His activity as a translator is worth of attention. I suppose you will understand me.

On the occasion of my being here, I want once again to say that I am very satisfied to give a speech in the parliament of the Republic of Bulgaria, a European country. We pursue the processes of democratizations, insurance of human rights and corrections of the mistakes committed in the past in your country, and sincerely wish you great success in your way.

There are close contacts between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. They have been established in the last decades. They are economic, scientific, technical and cultural ones. We attach great importance and value them. At the moment of a new situation as well, when Azerbaijan is an independent state and important socio-political processes are under way in Bulgaria, our contacts can rise to a higher level. My purpose in visiting Bulgaria is namely connected with bringing these contacts to a higher level in quality.

I want to assure you that Bulgaria is known well in Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people are well aware of the heroism of the Bulgarian sons in their struggle for freedom and independence. Ongoing processes in Bulgaria in the recent years are well known in Azerbaijan.

I convey my sincere desires and best wishes of my people to you and wish you successes on the road which you follow.

We held comprehensive talks about ensuring more successful development of contacts between our states with distinguished President Jelyu Jelev and the chairman of the parliament Blagovest Sendov. I openly declare to you that there are more reserve sources for the improvement of our relations, and we will do our best to use them for the establishment of friendship and fraternal contacts between our countries and peoples.

Long live independent and nice Bulgaria!

Long live the heroic Bulgarian people and his historical achievements!

Long live unbreakable Bulgarian-Azerbaijani friendship!