Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the official reception given by the President of Pakistan Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari in honor of the President of Azerbaijan - Islamabad, April 9, 1996

Mr. President Ahmed Khan Leghari,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I take this opportunity to convey the greetings to you and in your person to all the Pakistani people on behalf of the people and the citizens of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan.

Mr. President, I arrived in Pakistan on an official visit at your invitation. I and the Azerbaijani officials, arrived in Pakistan feel your warmth and hospitality and our meetings are held in a very friendly atmosphere. I express my sincerest gratitude to you for your invitation to visit Pakistan, for the warm, friendly welcome shown to the delegation accompanying me, for hosting us today, for the efficient work we have done and the negotiations we held.

Mr. President, your visit to Azerbaijan last October, the negotiations between the two countries, the signed documents, your acquaintance with the life of our country and meetings you held are very important steps in the development of the Pakistani-Azerbaijani relations. The Pakistani-Azerbaijani relations have a long history. Our peoples maintained close relations for centuries with each other, and our historical past, the similarity of our traditions, languages and commitment to one religion have always called us to maintain close relations.

Mr. President, today you remembered your stay in the homeland of the great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi, who lived and worked in XII century, became famous throughout the Orient and made a tremendous contribution to the world culture. Personalities like Nizami called Pakistani and Azerbaijani peoples to maintain close relations 800 years ago. Today our relations are based on these roots. It is no accidental that when the Republic of Azerbaijan gained its national independence, Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of our country.

Pakistan gained its independence 50 years ago. You have a lot of experience in the path of independence. Your national independence has many years. The Republic of Azerbaijan lives only the fifth year of its independence. We have very serious difficulties and problems. In strengthening and developing our independence we face many obstacles. Therefore, we need to establish close cooperation with nations and countries friendly to us. One of these countries and the most important one is Pakistan. Mr. President, last October, we held detailed discussions about it with you in Azerbaijan. Today, in the negotiations that began in Islamabad we attached great attention to these issues.

I had very detailed discussions on these issues during my meetings with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto when we were in the summits of international organizations in 1994-1995. The negotiations we conducted today with Mrs. Benazir Bhutto were the continuation of the talks held earlier and I want to express my great pleasure of it. I hope the work we have done, negotiations held today and which will be held tomorrow and the documents which we have to sign in Islamabad will create a solid foundation for the intensive development of relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan in all the spheres.

I would like to let you know that we shall do our best to make these negotiations successful. I am absolutely confident that these negotiations and meetings will open great opportunities for our future activities.

We are in Islamabad since this morning and are getting acquainted with your beautiful country. Your capital Islamabad has made a wonderful impression on us. Similarity of the climate and the character of Pakistan and Azerbaijan once more demonstrate our familiarity. Pakistan is one of the largest countries of the world, Asia. Pakistan has an ancient history and great traditions. The successes of the Pakistani people achieved on the path of independence and in the world community make us happy as a friendly country. The progress achieved on the road of national independence, changes and reforms carried out in the country, development of democracy, state-building and the formation of a society based on democratic principles make us hope that Pakistan and the Pakistani people have a reason to hope for a bright and happy future. Dear friends, I wish you successes in this way and have every confidence in the happy future of the Pakistani people.

Having a worthless place in the international organizations Pakistan also has an impact on the development of international processes. The Republic of Azerbaijan has always cooperated with Pakistan in international organizations and we believe this collaboration is very important. As I noted, the Republic of Azerbaijan faced many challenges and obstacles on the road of independence. As you know, the Armenian armed forces committed a military aggression against Azerbaijan eight years ago. As a result of this aggression 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territories were occupied. More than a million of the Azerbaijani citizens were forcibly expelled from these lands and became homeless. Most of them live in tents in very difficult conditions. The Azerbaijani people bravely fought, suffered losses, gave martyrs and victims in defense of their land, for the integrity of its territory, its independence and sovereignty. A part of the territory of Azerbaijan has been occupied for some reason. Although Azerbaijan suffered heavy losses in May of 1994 we reached an agreement on cease-fire in order to resolve this issue peacefully.

You know that on different continents of the world there are brutal military conflicts between countries, peoples and nations in the recent years. The Caucasian region is also full of military conflicts in the recent years. Azerbaijan is against all military conflicts. Azerbaijan is against the forcible seizure of lands of one country by another one. Azerbaijan is against separatism and terrorism. We are the supporters of solution of all conflicts by peaceful means. Therefore, we want to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict peacefully and take the constructive steps and work hard. We conduct peace negotiations within the frames of the Minsk Group of OSCE with the mediation of the U.S., Russia, Turkey and other countries. We try to liberate our occupied lands peacefully. We want to end the conflicts peacefully in the Caucasus, in particular, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I thank all of the countries which help us in our just and right cause. I thank Pakistan, in particular.

The Pakistani government has always criticized the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and condemned Armenia as an aggressor. In discussing this issue in the UN Security Council the Pakistani representative demonstrated a very fair attitude to Azerbaijan and helped us. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude for all that to Pakistan.

I highly appreciate the work of Pakistan in the name of peace and security in Asia, particularly in part of Asia where Pakistan is located. I believe that the efforts of the Pakistani government to solve these issues peacefully in Afghanistan and Tajikistan deserve high appreciation. We have supported the efforts of Pakistan in settling the largest problem for Pakistan, the Kashmir issue. We have always protected the rights and fair position of Pakistan in the international organizations and we do it today, too.

I am pleased to note that we have created favorable conditions for the intensive development of relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. We make democratic changes and build a legal and democratic country. We elected a new parliament and adopted the first constitution of the independent Azerbaijan based on democratic principles. Great changes are going on in the economy of Azerbaijan. We are moving from the old socialist economic system to the market economy and implement economic reforms into life. A large program of privatization is carried out. All this creates favorable conditions for the integration of Azerbaijan to the world economy.

Azerbaijan has vast natural resources and economic potential. We want to cooperate with all the countries of the world focusing on this. Azerbaijan has opened its doors to foreign investors and created all the conditions for the investment in our country. I believe that in this field we can carry out a broader and deeper cooperation with Pakistan.

We have signed an agreement on joint oil developments in Azerbaijan with the major oil companies of the world. We shall continue this business in future. I repeat that Azerbaijan has a great potential for cooperation with all the countries. In this sense, I invite the Pakistani entrepreneurs and businessmen to Azerbaijan and encourage them to invest in the oil industry of the country. I assure you that you can get a good opportunity for joint activities in Azerbaijan.

Once again, I express my respect for the ancient land of Pakistan and the Pakistani people. I wish successes to Pakistan and its government in solving their problems. I express my respect and appreciation to the President of Pakistan, my dear friend Ahmed Khan Leghari, the entire Pakistani nation, country and governmental representatives of Pakistan present here. I wish you health, happiness and successes in your future activities. Thank you, be happy.