From the conversation of the President of Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev with the permanent representative of Turkey Onur Oymen in NATO - April 25, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: I am very glad to meet You again. You are welcome to Azerbaijan. I know that you are here already some days and you held meetings in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and in other ministries you have had very useful conversations, negotiations.

It is very good that you have arrived at this time. We have participated together in jubilee ceremonies on the occasion of 85 jubilee of both our friend and your respected friend Ihsan Doghramaji. Thank you very much.

Onur Oymen: Esteemed President, thank You very much. I express my deep gratitude that You have received us so kindly. I am in my private excursion per se. I have had an opportunity to take part in the ceremony organized by You on the occasion of the jubilee of esteemed Dogramaji. And it is great honour for me.

We carried on very useful negotiations with your respected Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defence, Vice-chairman of the National Assembly (Milli Mejlis), and with a permanent chairman of the commission of the parliament on international relations.

As You know, when I worked in Ankara in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we had a contact and used to cooperate closely. There is very large development in Baku, in Azerbaijan in comparison with that period. We are really very pleased. At present I work in NATO as the representative of Turkey. We work there with your respected ambassador Mirhgamza Efendiyev. The activity of Azerbaijan is very effective and energetic there.

As You know, NATO has partner relations with 28 countries. Azerbaijan takes one of the important places in this line. We are proud of that. Turkey supports Azerbaijan making use of any opportunity. We had a talk on this issue with respected ministers, and discussed what we could do best in this direction. Turkey is always with you and may be there is no need to speak about it.

My opinion is absolutely positive. Azerbaijan has greatly development under Your leadership. I arrived to Azerbaijan last in 1996 together with Your esteemed President. Azerbaijan became absolutely one other country within these 4 years. I am very glad.

Heydar Aliyev: Very nice! Thank you very much. I am very pleased and I have told about this yesterday when we received here Ihsan Dogramaji and the guests accompanying him, there arouse a talk that essential development and transformation observed in Azerbaijan. I have said a word there yesterday. I said that you try possible to get acquainted with the present Azerbaijan and with its reality. It is very interesting for a person who arrives for the first time to Azerbaijan. But who arrive to Azerbaijan repeatedly, that is to say, is very interesting to know whether Azerbaijan moved forward or remained behind. We know that Azerbaijan move forward every year. I told about it yesterday, then I noted in my speech there in the Palace that Azerbaijan has many problems. If Azerbaijan did not have the biggest problem that is to say Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, the Upper Garabagh problem, Azerbaijan would have doubled its development even more. But we have this problem. What is the problem? 20 percent of our lands are under the occupation, more than one million of our compatriots are driven out by force and they live in tents. There is no peace. There is only cease-fire. We want to establish peace. We want to return our lands to Azerbaijan. We want to ensure the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. On the one hand it exerts to us moral and negative effect influence, but on the other hand it poses great financial problems. Besides as a President of Azerbaijan, this problem takes 30-40 percent of my work. You just imagine, how much we could do, if no this problem, I would direct this 30-40 percent of time to other necessary matters. However, not only me but many people together with me are engaged in this matter. Nevertheless we are developing having these problems.

The World Bank, European Bank and International Monetary Fund are here and they work these days. We survived slump until 1995. That is to say our economy sweeped down, came down and remained behind. We established stability in 1995. And we have begun the development since 1996. During three months of the current year the gross domestic product has increased for 6 percent. You know we have no inflation, there is no inflation more than 3-4 years. I beg your pardon, but Turkey realizes the grandiose matters and yet can not overcome the inflation. True, lately its level came down, but it is not stopped. In fact I do not want to say that our affairs are better than in Turkey. No. But we could bridle this sphere and manage with it. There are a lot of other things.

Therefore I am very glad that after Your last visit in 1996, you could see the changes taken place during these four years. I reiterate you should see them. Our friends should see them and be sure that the affairs are good in Azerbaijan and will be better by day.

As to our contacts with NATO, so we participate in the program of "Partnership for peace", we participate in another program and we think our participation is very important.

Today Turkey has opportunities to direct the especial ambassador in NATO in order to realize the activity. Besides Turkey is the full member of NATO. We also take part in the program "Partnership for peace". But the practice is as follows: after gaining its independence, wherever Azerbaijan tried to establish its diplomatic representatives, first of all came to the Embassy of Turkey and found room there. After this finds place and establishes its work. And now we have an embassy in Brussels, but at the same time we must have three embassies in Brussels: one is the diplomatic embassy of the Azerbaijan state, another in the European Union. We must have an embassy in the European Council. I will appoint them in one of these days. I have taken a decision, simply now we are looking for a proper person to appoint here. I will appoint him. However in NATO we will request you to carry on our affairs again. As you know, our representatives arrive there periodically.

I repeat once again that we attach a special importance to the cooperation with NATO and I am deeply grateful to you that these days you gave thorough information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and at the Ministry of Defence and in the National Assembly (Milli Mejlis) about the situation and the problems. I was informed about this immediately. I think that if Turkey is together with us, so we can successfully move forward.

Onur Oymen: It is natural, respected President. When I was an ambassador in Germany, the embassy of Azerbaijan was being set up. We established place in our embassy and worked with ambassador, respected Huseynagha Sadigov. We worked with him for several years in the same building. Later they moved to their building. But we have worked there as brothers.

Heydar Aliyev: You are right.

Onur Oymen: We were very pleased to such a close cooperation with Azerbaijan. You are right, Turkey is a permanent member of NATO. Being a permanent member of this organization, Turkey is naturally has the vote in all affairs with NATO.

One of our important problems is the question of close cooperation with such countries as Azerbaijan, increase the relics of these countries in the name of peace, realization of theoretical interaction with NATO as they will. In this respect Azerbaijan takes very active part in all these matters. Turkey renders every assistance on its part.

Today’s situation in Azerbaijan is much better than other partner countries. Azerbaijan realizes much larger activity, participates more actively in the education programs. We have an education centre in Ankara named "Community for peace". Azerbaijan takes very active part here too. That is to say, we are very pleased for this work of Azerbaijan.

As You have noted the question of refugees is a big pain. It is painful not only for Azerbaijan but for the entire world. If there were so many refugees in any other country, so the whole world - the world press, politics, and newspapers would rise to their feet. It is necessary that the world will remember about this terrible tragedy of Azerbaijan daily. That is to say, there is no such country in the world where one out of eight representative is a refugee. The fact that You and endure survive this heavy load is really historical event. And therefore it is necessary to regularly bring this issue to the notice of the world community. It is necessary that all states of the world, international organizations help to Azerbaijan. It is equal to the case as the United Nations Organizations and other institutions render assistance to other countries. They usually arrive here too but it is necessary that they should work here much more.

The main question consists in returning of refugees to their native homes. We want, as you have just said, that the peaceful solution of question be found and all the lands under occupation be released. The righteous cause of Azerbaijan in this question should confirmed, in order that your country could return to your borders, be recognized by the international community and all these people return to their lands. We want that this great and common to all mankind problem would be settled, and heavy load which carry the government of Azerbaijan on his shoulders would be released in order the Azerbaijani government would develop more quickly.

Dear President, this is our wish. Turkey really supports You in these matters and we are ready to render assistance within the limits of NATO. I assure you once again.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much.

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, April 26, 2000.

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