From the talk of President of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev with chairmen of the Committee for foreign relations of the US Congress Benjamin Gilman and the members of this committee - Washington, July 30, 1997

Honorable Mr. Gilman!

Honorable ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I express my gratitude to Mr. Gilman and members of the Committee for foreign relations for the sincere, warm meeting and kind words and consider it my duty to emphasize satisfaction with the present development of relations between Azerbaijan and the USA.

I stress with pleasure that today, when the rapprochement of relations between the US Congress, having great historical traditions and the independent Azerbaijan Republic is of great importance, chairman of the Committee for foreign relations and its members show high interest in the democratic processes taking place in our republic, as well as the work accomplished in the field of construction of a legal state and the reforms carried out. The great work has been really done in the independent Azerbaijan Republic and it is being done in the field of stabilization of socio-political situation, resolute inculcation of market relations and construction of a legal and democratic state. I already informed about it at the meetings and during the talks with both President Bill Clinton and other US officials, with whom I maintain personal friendship contacts and want to underline it once again at the meeting with you.

I bring to your notice that the most painful problem faced by our independent republic is the Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which inflamed as a result of military aggression of Armenia and has not found its settlement up to date. As a result of military aggression continuing since 1988, great damage has been caused to our republic. 20 percent of Azerbaijani land has been occupied by the Armenian armed forces. Over a million of our citizens have become refugees and live in hard conditions in tents.

By the way, the Armenian aggressor party continues to ignore the principles adopted at the OSCE Lisbon Summit in 1966, related to the settlement of this conflict. The joint statement ratified in Denver by Presidents Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin and Jacques Chirac on peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict and peaceful initiatives of our republic can undoubtedly contribute to the speedy settlement of the conflict, however, unfortunately, the Armenian side reduces to zero the provisions of the joint statement and our peaceful initiatives, advancing various groundless arguments.

I want to state with regret that with the adoption of amendment 907 to the “Freedom Support Act” by the US Congress against Azerbaijan subjected to the aggression, our republic was deprived of the opportunity to receive the sate financial support of the USA. I stress once again that the abolition of this amendment, preventing further improvement of the Azerbaijan-American relations depends on congressmen in many respects and I hope they will not spare efforts in this line.

I want to give a fact-based answer to clarify the statement of congressman Polloni, attending here and stating that during the collapse of the USSR, there was allegedly an article on self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh was always the Azerbaijani land. In 1923, an autonomous district was established within Azerbaijan. In 1988, when the conflict started, Armenians made 70 percent of the 170-thousand population living in Nagorno-Karabakh, but Azerbaijanis made 30 percent. Presently, Azerbaijanis have been removed from there and have to live as refugees in their republic. As I have mentioned, Nagorno-Karabakh is a constituent part of Azerbaijan. In 1988, during the Soviet Union time, the resolution on annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia was adopted without any legal reason. It resulted in the war and blood was shed. There is a map in front of you, which gives even a clearer idea of the occupation by the Armenian armed forces of the territories of 7 more Azerbaijan regions around Nagorno-Karabakh after they had occupied Nagorno-Karabakh itself.

At the end of the meeting, I appreciate from the bottom of my heart the congressmen, having named the first official visit of the Azerbaijan President to the USA historical and invite them to Azerbaijan to see at first hand the great deeds carried out on the way of democracy, construction of a legal state and reforms.

“Heydar Aliyev: Our independence is eternal” (speeches, statements, interviews, letters, appeals, decrees) – Azerneshr, Baku – 2003. Volume XI, p. 159-161.