From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the tete-a-tete meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who arrived in Baku on a short visit, Zugulba, the residence of the President, August 29, 1997

Mr. Prime Minister, Netanyahu,

I am pleasured to welcome you in Azerbaijan, in its capital Baku.

Mr. Netanyahu, expressing my satisfaction with your short visit to Baku on the eve of my official visit to Israel, I want to say that your visit to Baku gave a positive impetus to my upcoming visit to your country. I believe that it has created a good opportunity to further strengthening the cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel.

I well remember our meeting and the talks at the Lisbon Summit o of OSCE last December. With a sense of pleasure I want to talk about our common views on the constant development of the Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation, whether it is there or here in Baku.

I would like to bring to your attention that the relations between our countries are based on a long historical tradition. We can speak of the development of these relations with confidence today. I am satisfied with the meeting in Lisbon and negotiations we held, including your kind words addressed to me.

The meetings and talks held in New York with the leaders of the Conference of Presidents of the American Jewish communities made a great impression on me to report that we held there a broad exchange of views on the solutions of the problems faced by Azerbaijan, in particular, on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, repeal of the unfair section 907 to the "Freedom Support Act" adopted by the Congress in 1992. I want to draw your attention to the fact that it is important for everyone, who respects human rights to assist the speedy repeal of Section 907 adopted against Azerbaijan, which has been subjected to aggression. These issues have been widely discussed during my meetings at the White House with President Bill Clinton and other senior officials of the U.S. government, at the Capitol with congressmen, speaker of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate.

Mr. Netanyahu, confirming your statement about the readiness of the Government of Israel to provide necessary assistance to resolve the problems faced by Azerbaijan and a number of your proposals on the further development of the Azerbaijani-Israeli relations, I note that the revival of relations between our countries are beneficial for both sides.

Speaking of the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, it is possible to emphasize that as a result of the ongoing conflict since 1988 the Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of our land, over a million of our people were forced to leave their native lands and became refugees and the territorial integrity of our country was violated. The true causes of the conflict were the territorial claims of Armenia against Azerbaijan and the desire to forcibly annex an integral part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. I declare that Nagorno-Karabakh has never been a part of Armenia and a claim to this territory can be considered as a violation of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. On the contrary, Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region of Azerbaijan, where the Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived together. This aggression, not prevented by the leaders of the former Soviet government caused a heavy damage to our country and people. But despite this, we want to resolve the conflict peacefully. Over the past few years much has been done to resolve the conflict within the Minsk Group of OSCE. At the Lisbon Summit of OSCE there specific principles were adopted for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict peacefully. We are ready to implement these principles. But the Armenian side, unfortunately, does not accept these principles and the decision taken by the summit remains unfulfilled. I commend the Joint Declaration on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, signed in Denver by Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin and Jacques Chirac, Presidents of the United States, Russia and France, the three world powers, which are the current co-chairs of the Minsk Group of OSCE. While commending the efforts made in recent years by the Minsk Group of OSCE to resolve the conflict, as well as new proposals put forward by them, I would like once more to comment on the position of our country in connection with the resolution of this issue: in the first phase, the Armenian armed forces should withdraw from the six occupied regions of Azerbaijan and in the second phase, the status of Nagorno-Karabakh should be discussed after the liberation of Shusha and Lachin from the occupation.

Mr. Netanyahu, we believe that Israel should use its authority for the wider protection of the just cause of Azerbaijan by the international community and resolve the conflict.

After independence, particularly after 1993 the Republic of Azerbaijan has taken important steps in establishing closer relations with the international community. It once again confirms the historically important agreements for the joint development of oil fields in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea, signed by a number of influential foreign oil companies as well as the work done in the area of determining the routes of pipelines that will be built for the export of crude oil to the world market. In Azerbaijan, which successfully implements reforms for the establishment of a legal, democratic country and privatization, adopted the first democratic constitution in November 12, 1995 by a referendum and elected the Parliament with the active participation of the people, which was submitted by a number of parties. The activities carried out in deepening democracy have led to the establishment of political stability in our country. The independence of our country became even stronger. Today, I want to declare that the independence of Azerbaijan is eternal, indestructible and irreversible. No one and no power can divert us from the right way.

Mr. Netanyahu, we came to the joint conclusion that for the further development of the Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation it is necessary to create special bilateral working groups that would analyze in detail issues for the implementation of proposals and prepare projects for joint discussion. At the same time, we note the need for mutual visits of delegations of both countries.

... I support your views on the necessity of opening an Azerbaijani embassy in Israel. I hope that this issue will be soon resolved.

Mr. Netanyahu, I invite you to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan. Once more I express my gratitude for your short visit to Baku.