From the conversation of President of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev with the delegation of Israel, headed by deputy Minister of Defense and co-chair of the USA-Israel-Azerbaijan joint inter-parliamentary group Ephraim Snekh - December 4, 1999

Heydar Aliyev: Honorable Minister!

Honorable guests!

You are welcome to Azerbaijan! I heartily greet you.

There are very good, close and friendly relations between Azerbaijan and Israel. But I think that we wish even greater development of these relations from both sides. Just for this aim, I met Prime Minister of your country, Israel, Mr. Barak at the Istanbul OSCE Summit and our meeting was very efficient and important. First of all, we held exchange of views regarding Azerbaijan-Israeli contacts and touched upon other regional issues. I am very satisfied of this meeting.

I think your present visit to Azerbaijan follows the same goal, i.e. further development of our relations. Welcome!

Ephraim Snekh: Thank You very much, honorable Mr. President. Let me first of all convey best regards of Prime Minister Barak to You. He asked me to give his personal regards to President Aliyev.

The primary goal of this visit is the desire to spend the first day of Jewish Khanuk holiday with the Jewish people here, among Jews. We are very pleased that today and in the past, Jews, living in Azerbaijan have felt friendliness of Azerbaijani people and they were always treated here warmly, sincerely and friendly. We all estimate it very highly. In Israel, the Jews who moved from Baku cannot hide their love and cordiality to Baku and share their feelings connected with Azerbaijan with great pleasure.

Mr. President, I would like to share with You my personal impressions here as well. Instead of Your good interpreter, I want to express these feelings myself although in broken Russian.

Mr. President, I was here, in Baku, six years ago and four years ago. It is such a great event. There is everything here - cars, goods in shops - everything and it is like a miracle. I know that all this is owing to Your policy, Your leadership and Your courage. I only want to say that I am very glad that now, people are living better here and that Azerbaijan is a strong republic. It is my own impression and I just wanted to share them with You.

I was in Azerbaijan in December 1993 and remember those days very vividly. It cannot even be compared. Taking an opportunity Mr. President, we wish You robust health and wish Your leadership to last long years.

Although short time has passed since signing the historical agreement on Baku-Jeykhan, I want to stress again that this agreement will render Your country big aid in taking worthy place in the world community.

I always like to find resemblance between Azerbaijan and Israel, compare them and draw analogies. And now, taking an opportunity, I would like to mention that our countries resemble in many respects. First, it is efforts over restoration of our ancient languages. Second, living of the majority of the countries` population abroad. Third, living in the region where there is no place for the weak. Making use and based on friendly relations with Azerbaijan, we will do our utmost to help You in the world. In conclusion, I would like to say with pride that today, Jewish community in the United States of America is mobilized to achieve the abolishment of article 907 having discriminating character in respect of Azerbaijan.
Thank You very much Mr. President.

Heydar Aliyev: I appreciate You. I congratulate You with the Khanuk holiday and I am very glad that you celebrate this national holiday just in Azerbaijan, in Baku and spend this holiday together with the Jews living in Azerbaijan.

It is true that both in the past and at present, Jews have enjoyed all the civil rights in Azerbaijan and we do not admit any selectivity.

Jews have always done much in socio-political life of Azerbaijan in the fields of science and culture and they were of much benefit for Azerbaijan.

I personally had many Jewish friends, who used to occupy very outstanding posts in Azerbaijan in the field of culture, music, public health and other. They were valuable people and citizens of Azerbaijan. We will never forget their merits in the development of Azerbaijan, especially in the development of culture, science and public health.

Today, Jews live in Azerbaijan very independently, quietly and they are engaged in the business they want and I think their living conditions and all other necessities of life are on a high level. And today, they work in all those areas of Azerbaijan that they like to and I think they are satisfied of their abiding here. You have also stated this.

I know that Jews, who moved from Baku to Israel in recent years, miss Azerbaijan and Baku very much. Some of them are my old acquaintances and friends. When they visited Azerbaijan lately, I have met them, spoke with them and I noticed each time that their hearts were together with Azerbaijan and they missed it. I told them to come back whenever they want and live in Azerbaijan again. Now, the territory of Israel is limited for the population cannot house all the Jews living in the world.

I appreciate You for kind words, for Your impressions regarding the situation in Azerbaijan in recent years and regarding me. I am very pleased that, as You mentioned, You were here six years ago in 1993 and now, this season. Today, after six years expired, You have visited Azerbaijan once again and see the changes taken place in the life of Azerbaijan. Along with Your impressions, I think our greatest achievement was that in 1993, we could save Azerbaijan from splitting, collapse and threat of a civil war. After that, as a result of measures implemented in Azerbaijan, we purged our society, neutralized illegal armed units, isolated criminal elements from the society and could establish socio-political stability in Azerbaijan.

You know that, I also returned to Baku for the second time in 1993. I also remember those years and months. I think You also observed how people could not go out of doors in the evening that time. Many families did not let children out of houses. It was terrible time. But now, You can walk in Baku streets until morning. Of course, You saw much. You told about cars, changes in the city and hotels. Along with it, the major fact is that we created conditions for people`s free life.

Naturally, it is the development of economy that provided the picture You have seen. In 1994, we suspended the war with Armenia and signed the cease-fire agreement.

You have said that our countries have much in common and You are absolutely right. You know that our territorial integrity has been violated. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 % of Azerbaijan territory and hold it under occupation till now. More than a million Azerbaijanis, many of whom live in hard conditions in tents, have been violently driven out the occupied lands. We are not supporters of renewal of the war and want to solve this matter peacefully. Unfortunately, the Armenian side still cannot take a constructive position to solve this problem peacefully. But I believe that we will achieve peaceful solution of this problem.

Many inequities were admitted against Azerbaijan, including, as You just mentioned article 907 adopted by the US Congress. The US government always appeals to the fact that the Armenians, living in the USA have influence on the Congress and therefore, they cannot withdraw this article. But I say, and You have stated about this, that it is the Jewish community, which has the strongest influence on the US Congress and all the government.

We have very close contacts with the US Jewish community. While being there, I met the representatives of the conference of the US Jewish communities in New-York. They had visited Azerbaijan many times and had many meetings here. I have seen the "Holocaust" museum. We have very close contacts. Therefore, I accept with great pleasure Your statement that the US Jewish community will henceforth try to abolish article 907. All this witnesses that our present relations are good, but they can be even better in the future.

You have touched upon the subject of signing the agreement on Baku-Jeykhan oil pipeline. In fact, it is our big victory and success. We have worked much on it over the past five years. Large Western oil companies, in particular, of the United States of America broadly cooperate with us. As a result of our joint work, we extract oil and deliver it to the world markets. But we have many natural resources and we are very rich in this respect. The Baku-Jeikhan oil pipeline was naturally very important and necessary to deliver all of them to the world markets. We achieved this and got closer to Israel even more. The distance from the Jeykhan port to Israel is very short.

We also have future projects. But the basic aim is to put an end to Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict and to establish peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We are adherents of establishment of peace in Caucasus as a whole, in particular, in South Caucasus. We make big efforts towards this end and I advanced the proposal on instituting a pact of security and cooperation in South Caucasus at the Istanbul OSCE Summit. I consider the institution of such a pact is real.

In one word, both you and we face big difficulties. But the basic point is that we can cope with these difficulties and I am optimistic about it. The future promises to be good for both Israel and Azerbaijan.

Thank you for kind words stated to my address. I say it in Russian because you also expressed this thought in Russian.

Ephraim Snekh: I understand a little.

Heydar Aliyev: You speak Russian rather well. Probably, you understand better than You speak. It is always like this.

Ephraim Snekh: Mr. President, I want to return to one issue again. Before coming here, I got in touch with Washington. I was informed that it was possible to proceed to following efforts for abolition of article 907 at the beginning of spring. This issue was rather complicated due to elections to take place next year. I want to inform that founder of our state Ben-Gurion has wonderful words. At that time, Israel was isolated, it was a solitary state and many did not hear his voice. He said - "It is not important what others say and think about us. The most important thing is what we do ourselves and show what we are capable of". It seems to me that these words can be also ascribed to you. We are sure that You show the entire world what you are capable of by the deeds accomplished here.

Heydar Aliyev: I appreciate.

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, 5 December 1999.

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Azerbaijan - Asia

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Azerbaijan - Asia