Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev on the official ceremony in honour of the chairman of Justice and Development Party of Turkey Receb Tayyip Erdogan - January 7, 2003

Dear Mr. Erdogan!

Dear ministers!

Dear guests, friends!

I greet you heartily once more in Azerbaijan and I have feeling of great satisfaction in connection with your visit to Azerbaijan.

Today we have done much work during a little time. First of all, I got acquainted personally with Mr. Erdogan. We have met in Istanbul before and have had a supper together. It is quite another matter. But today Mr. Erdogan is a leader of the Turkish government, the chairman of Justice and Development Party, who achieved a great success in the elections unexpectedly. Our present meeting, naturally, carries another character.

Mr. Erdogan, I am very much satisfied with our face to face negotiations, and with the exchange of views. Our opinions coincide, and today the Turkish-Azerbaijani relations are as usually above all for you and for me. I've understood this in the course of the negotiations with you.

The remarkable character of this visit lies in the fact that Mr. Erdogan, being the chairman of the party, led his party to the power, appointed the members of his party to the public position and the members of his party took place in Great National Assembly, government and he headed them. It is quite natural. Therefore as I noted such a success was a rare case in the history of Turkey. Every time in a situation like that, say, personal coming of one party to the power, had brought Turkey enormous success, contributed to its development and promoted it.

I think that people voting for Justice and Development Party live with these hopes and I have no doubt at all that the party will justify these hopes. Mr. Erdogan, I repeat once more that your visit to Azerbaijan in such conditions is very significant. So, the Turkish-Azerbaijan relations again carry priority character. And they occupy a special character in our policy and we enjoy it.

We have got to cover a great way ahead us. Azerbaijan is a young and independent state. We live in the period of independence to about 11 years and we have problems. Our major problem is the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, occupation of the Azerbaijani lands by the armed forces of Armenia and banishment from the occupied lands of more than a million of Azerbaijani citizens, who are inhabited in tents. This is a big pain of the Azerbaijan state. We try to solve the present problem. We've regularly consulted on this problem with Turkey, and we count on to the support of Turkey. Turkey is together with us. Unfortunately, we could not solve this problem. However I believe that we will solve it.

There are other problems before the independent, young Azerbaijan state to be settled. Now we've transferred to the market economy. Turkey is aware of well the peculiarities of the market relations. Turkey survived this period. Today we are surviving it. But if not the occupied lands and more than a million of our citizens driven out of their native lands in conditions of unemployment, then we could have solved more successfully other problems standing before our independent state with great ease. However, in spite of that, we gain ground and advance.

Beginning from 1996, the economy of Azerbaijan is being developed year by year. We have attained the new results in 2002. We have big plans for 2003. But still we should do a lot to firmly consolidate the market economy in Azerbaijan, accomplish the privatization, and develop business undertakings, establish for conditions to each businessman for fruitful work.

One other course in the way of our development we consider the attraction of foreign investments to Azerbaijan. We have done big work in this field, large capitals are invested to the oil and gas sector. In 2002, 2 bln. Dollars of capital was invested in Azerbaijan. You should agree that the sum 2 bln dollars-out of which 1,7 bln is foreign and 300 million is internal, that`s too much for a small country having the population of 8 million people. But it does not suit us yet. We want to attract more actively Turkey to Azerbaijan and the Turkish businessmen in the sphere of investment.

The businessmen of Turkey have done a lot of work in Azerbaijan. Their work is obvious in our town. For instance, the Turkish companies worked well in the construction of our airport building. Today we are proud of having the international airport. And not only this, they have done other works. However, they will have to do a lot of. I hope that the meeting to be held tomorrow with the businessmen arrived with Mr. Erdogan and forthcoming exchange of views will open new opportunities.

Being in Turkey some months ago I met with turkish businessmen in Istanbul and invited them to Azerbaijan. After this, one of the most influential businessmen of Turkey Sabanchi arrived to our country. Then Sharik Tara and others arrived to Azerbaijan and we held meetings. At present Mr. Erdogan has come to Azerbaijan together with 150 businessmen. If 50 of them carry out important work here, so our work will move forward.

Our country is open, everything is open. I would like Turkey to invest more capital investments to Azerbaijan for their representatives to work here. In particular, they would have established production. The production opens new work places. We have a lot of unemployed. Unemployment is one of our main problems. We must create production fields. We make efforts ourself, and we must try to do this. The foreign investors should show themselves in the field of production.

The commerce, trade and purchase and sale are very important spheres. We must promote them. Mr. Erdogan is absolutely right, the amount of business in the volume 300 million dollars is not fair for Turkey and Azerbaijan. We must increase it. At the same time, it is necessary that the foreign investors created production fields in Azerbaijan. You should grant work to unemployed. If the work will be granted to them, the production will be established, the businessmen will get benefit from the invested capitals, and our citizens will be provided with work. I think, there are many opportunities in this sphere, and it is necessary to make use of them.

I want to note particularly, we are glad that new period, new stage are opened in the life of Turkey. The Justice and Development Party personally being in power, can do a lot. Today I understood from the words of Mr. Erdogan that they have envisaged a plan, of work they will be realized, the economy of Turkey will develop. The more impetuously the economy of Turkey develops, the more positively it will influence on Azerbaijan. We wish this. It's our desire. Turkey and Azerbaijan are side by side and will be together in other affairs, in international organizations. We have struggled and will struggle together against the Armenian lobby. We always spoke against the thoughts of Armenians that the Turks committed genocide against them. Our National Assembly (Milli Majlis) sent a protest to the Parliament of France on this occasion, we spoke and we will speak with other declarations further. Armenians inflicted reprisals over Azerbaijanis in Azerbaijan, over Turks in Turkey. And now they confirm that Turks inflicted reprisals over Armenians, committed genocide. This is not true, this is a lie.

Tomorrow you will visit Martyrs` Avenue. I hope you will see there a monument raised in memory of Turkish soldiers. What monument is that? In 1918 the Caucasian Turkish army arrived to Azerbaijan. If they did not arrive and did not save the Azerbaijanis from committed slaughter by Armenians, the Armenians would have killed here more Azerbaijanis, strengthened their power. Therefore, the Azerbaijani people raised this monument as a sign of gratitude some years ago. We opened this monument with my friend, the 9th President Suleyman Demirel. Today it serves as a place of pilgrimage for Azerbaijanis as our Martyr's Avenue. We always were together and we will be together, we will struggle everywhere hand in hand.

The Republic of Turkey established by Ataturk passed great way since 1923.This is very glorious way. Today, there is a democratic, legal and civilized power in Turkey. This is a matter of great importance. The Turkish people, the Turkish politicians developed, develop and will develop this work in the future.

I offer to raise glasses for the Republic of Turkey, people of Turkey, friendship and brotherhood between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Thank you.

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