From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with great musician Mstislav Rostropovich - Presidential Palace, November 22, 1999

Heydar Aliyev: Dear Slava, - we have agreed to address you in such a way, I am very glad that you are back in your native land, in Azerbaijan. You know that we are always happy to welcome you here. It's nice that you keep your word. This is the most important thing.

Frankly speaking, when you told about your intentions to come to Azerbaijan every year and hold master class lessons and do other business, I welcomed it. I thought it was impossible, as you are very busy and you have very busy work schedule, i.e. today you are here, tomorrow in another country, but on the third day in quite another country. But you are a man of your words. You prove that you are doing what you have planned. I am very pleased. It is a great joy, a great event for us, for our public and not just for the music public. You are our compatriot and much ties you with Azerbaijan. But there was a long break in our relations. Therefore, many people began to forget about it. You have entered a new period in relations with your native land, since I invited you here to celebrate your anniversary. I am very glad that this period attains good results and everything that has been planned is being implemented. This is very nice.

When our people see your performance in different countries, on different TV channels they say: he is ours! By the way, there were celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is a great event, and we could watch it on TV and when we saw you conducting a huge orchestra, I was surprised and at the same time I was proud that Slava has a great reputation. I was very happy when I saw all this on TV.

It is good that you have come back to us, we can talk face to face and can listen not only your conversation but also to your music. I welcome you.

Mstislav Rostropovich: Do you know why I keep my word? Because, as they say, a real man should be like this. That is why.

Heydar Aliyev: You are a real man. In Azerbaijan the word "man" has a special meaning. One thing is simply saying the word "man". But in the true sense "man" means that one is a man of his word, and has all the qualities, virtues that are characteristic of the man, and his words and actions coincide.

Mstislav Rostropovich: Of course, I have to say that all are surprised that I came here for a week. I have delayed some concerts to come here. But I keep my word. After the anniversary of the Berlin Wall, I had a very difficult period. I had two concerts in France, in Lyle, one concert in Paris, then I played a concert in Israel, from there I went to Monaco and there I was decorated with an order. But playing at concerts, I thought: thanks God, I will soon go to Baku. So it was a holiday for me when I was on the board of the plane of the Azerbaijani Airlines.

I came here and met all my old friends, and have held a master class lesson today. There are a lot of talented children here, very talented. You remember when I was here a girl played the violin. I think, with your help she got the money to study in America.

Heydar Aliyev: What was her name? Rakcheyeva.

Mstislav Rostropovich: On September 23, when I opened the season in New York, it was a great holiday and I found her there. She studies at Julian school and makes great progresses. I asked all there to take care of that girl, they will report to me. As you see, all is well. In terms of music all is fine here.

Heydar Aliyev: Surely your lessons, master classes are not usual lessons as may seem to others.

Mstislav Rostropovich: These classes are more difficult than concerts.

Heydar Aliyev: Your master class lessons are of special importance. To be your student and learn from you is certainly an honor and great pleasure for anyone who has been honored with such a possibility. The way to the future is opened for those who are in contact with you in music, of course, if they have talent, you won't accept incompetent people.I know your program, it is a very good one. Of course, I want you to visit us frequently.

Mstislav Rostropovich: I have a rehearsal on August 29, in Amsterdam. I will go from Baku to Paris and then immediately to Amsterdam.

Heydar Aliyev: Slava, in one word, I am glad. Incidentally, when we met President Jacques Chirac in Istanbul, we both remembered you.

Mstislav Rostropovich: When will he come here?

Heydar Aliyev: He was going to come. He in`tended to visit Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. But after Ter-Petrossian resigned and the current president was elected in Armenia, he called me and said:" Tell the truth, I can not come in this situation. If I come to you and then go to Armenia, it will lead to misunderstandings. Therefore, my visit to Armenia at the moment simply does not work." Therefore, he postponed his visit.

He is an ideal man, scientist. The more I talk to him, much more evidence I get that he is sincere and frank In addition, he is an outstanding statesman and politican. He is just a sincere man of his word. he called me and explained all this.

I understand and I think it takes time to implement his visit. And this time will come. I met him in Istanbul. As always, we had a frank, detailed and friendly conversation. We remembered you. I remembered you at a meeting with the former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. We were together at your anniversary celebration in Paris. Now he is the chairman of the European Commission of the European Union on economic issues. It is an important international post. First I met him in Rome when he was prime minister, then we met in Paris while celebrating 70th anniversary of your birthday. And then we met in Istanbul, I reminded him about our meeting at Slava's jubilee, he was glad.

Mstislav Rostropovich: He's a very friendly man. And you know that when Jacques Chirac was going to arrive here, I received a letter from him in Paris, he formally included me into the French delegation. I then thought that the museum...

Heydar Aliyev: "But it will be.


Mstislav Rostropovich: I shall remind it to him.

Heydar Aliyev: Time will come and it will be organized.

Mstislav Rostropovich: Heydar Aliyevich, can I ask you a delicate question? You know how I am worried about the refugees. Are there any prospects for resolving this issue?

Heydar Aliyev: "You know, it is a wound in my heart.

Mstislav Rostropovich: So it is in mine.

Heydar Aliyev: This is wound in my heart. However, in April I had surgery in my heart and it was very successful, and the wound has healed. But the wound connected with the fate and situation of refugees, the plight, which is now Azerbaijan, occupation of 20 percent of our territory, million people who have been driven out from their homes still remain. Believe me, I not only think about it day and night, but do everything possible. In a meeting with President Jacques Chirac in Istanbul 95 percent of our conversation was on this topic. This was the main topic of our conversations with President Clinton, Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder, with Roman Prodi, who is also addressing this issue within the European Commission, with the President of Turkey Suleyman Demirel, with other heads of states, whom I met in Istanbul.

But I still live with hope. The last few days we have rain. There have been such heavy rains that it flooded the village of Ramana in Surakhany and other places. I allocated special funds for reconstruction. Since yesterday we have a downpour. Of course, everyone feels discomfort from this. But imagine those people in tents. Can the tent stand so much water pouring from the sky? Therefore, it is very difficult.

However, I am optimistic. I think that we shall be able to reach an agreement. I set myself a goal -to make peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Even in Istanbul, I made a very big idea to establish a pact of peace and security in the Southern Caucasus - this is Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Of course, I set the condition - what means the pact, which claims it includes. I propose such a pact.

Despite the fact that we have suffered great losses, our territories have been occupied and people live in the tents more than six years I try to make peace. But of course, just peace. In this regard, recently I have had several direct, personal meetings with the Armenian President Kocharian.

Mstislav Rostropovich: That is very important.

Heydar Aliyev: By the way, it was appreciated at the Istanbul summit, in the West, in America. They believe that this, perhaps, will be more useful than what has been done so far. In general, we use all means. There is the Minsk Group - as you know, Russia, the United States and France are its co-chairs. During the year they have weakened their activities, I have criticized them at the summit in Istanbul. Then, during the meetings, we agreed - by the way, it is written in the document that we have adopted - that they should resume the negotiation process. We will use this and that, and we'll see what happens. I hope so.

Mstislav Rostropovich: You know, your gesture to give the pictures to Germany is still appreciated. It is highly appreciated. I think this is a wonderful gesture of goodwill, which shows what a tender heart you have as president. Such an action is required. One must be able to return. As you were able to return the paintings, Armenia should also return you the occupied territories.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, Chancellor Schroeder highly appreciated it. You know that those paintings were stolen and are in New York, in court, but we returned all that we had. I wrote him a special letter, and I gave a special decree on this issue. All that was stored in our museum since 1947, we have given to the Bremen Museum in Germany.

Mstislav Rostropovich: It is a wonderful gesture. It is a gesture of a great man, great leader. I must say, that when you do something and when you give something, it makes people think about that and others must also do the same.

Heydar Aliyev: Correct.

Mstislav Rostropovich: It is very important that you set such an example. It is very important.

Heidar Aliev: It was a great historic event for us to sign an important project on Baku-Ceyhan pipeline in Istanbul. By the way, we have been doing this for five years, we faced many obstacles, difficulties. We overcame all of them.

The author and architect of this project is Azerbaijan. If we had not signed the "Contract of the Century" in 1994, of course, nothing could take place today. We signed the contract, stated that there are huge reserves of oil and we have been extracting the oil already since 1997 and it is exported through Northern and Baku-Supsa pipelines. Though there are difficulties in connection with the events in the Northern Caucasus. The other route is Baku-Supsa . But we needed a core, a large oil pipeline to export more oil. For five years we dealt with this matter and brought it to the end, signed a document in a festive atmosphere. Clinton signed it, too. During all these years he not only supported us, but he did everything to make this project become a reality. We signed it. This is a big event.

Mstislav Rostropovich: So I hope that more money will come.

Heydar Aliyev: We shall invest 2 billion 400 million dollars to this pipeline. But in future, of course ... By the way, we have discovered large deposits of gas. And probably in few years we shall be exporting gas. The contracts that we signed demand investments in Azerbaijan about $ 60 billion over 15 years. Of course, when so much money is invested, you must take a lot of profit. Otherwise, why to invest?

We do all this for the future. I may not see all this because time is passing and age does its work. However, I am doing this not for myself, but for the people, for the future generations, for an independent Azerbaijan. This case is progressing, and I am glad to this.

Mstislav Rostropovich: I congratulate you cordially.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.