Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the official reception in honor of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Hervé de Charette – Gulustan Palace, October 11, 1996

Distinguished Minister!

Dear guests!

Ladies and gentlemen!

Today we are receiving the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Hervé de Charette and his delegation in Azerbaijan. The first visit of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs to Azerbaijan is a remarkable event in the French-Azerbaijani relations and therefore, we attach a great importance to this visit.

The relations between Azerbaijan and France have had a short, but a good history since the independence of Azerbaijan. Today we could tell about the great history between France and Azerbaijan that existed in the past. But the inter-state relations started when Azerbaijan declared its independence. I am pleased to note that France recognized Azerbaijan`s independence immediately and established diplomatic relations with us.

In early 1992, soon after the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, France opened its embassy to Azerbaijan. This is a quite convincing evidence that having recognized the independence of Azerbaijan, France attached and still attaches a great importance to the development of the relations with our country. Perhaps our relations have not been properly developed in the initial stage. However, all the achievements since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries are highly remarkable.

The military conflict with Armenia since Azerbaijan`s independence and claims on very close relations between Armenia and France have emerged the idea that Azerbaijan can not have a close friendship and cooperation with France. However, this idea is wrong and unreasonable. The past period when our relations were established and stabilized has proved it, too. 

I am pleased to note that after I was elected the President of Azerbaijan three years ago, I paid my first state visit to France at the invitation of late François Mitterand, then President of France. The visit was made in December 1993. At that time, not only did we conduct effective negotiations and discussions with the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Senate, at the Parliament, but also signed important intergovernmental documents as well.

During the last years the relations between France and Azerbaijan have steadily advanced and expanded. During our negotiations with Mr. Minister we agreed that the relations had reached a good level.  At the same time, we came to a conclusion that there are opportunities for expansion and deepening of our relations. This fully corresponds to the interests of France and Azerbaijan.

Once again, I want to say that Azerbaijan wishes to deepen relations with France and will further do its best to have our cooperation cover all areas. Of course, we especially mean economic and political interests and development of culture, science and education.

France has a rich history, culture and traditions. Many people in Azerbaijan are well aware of the history of France, works by French writers, French cultural figures, as well as France`s great contribution to civilization. We highly appreciate France`s contribution to democratic principles and to establishment of democratic statehood. These principles were elaborated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, Diderot and developed by following generations of French statesmen and political figures. Now these democratic principles play a key role for elaborating and implementing democratic principles for countries which have selected the democratic way. When establishing a democratic, legal, civil state in Azerbaijan we benefit from universal experience, as well as experience of France. We address to the history and current realities of the French statehood and democracy. Last year we adopted the first Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan Republic. While working on the draft constitution, I personally repeatedly addressed to the modern constitution of France, the constitutional activity in France of the last decades, and to its constitutional structure. In Azerbaijan the notion France has always been perceived as a high culture, education, and enlightenment. Therefore, many generations in Azerbaijan have had a great respect to history, culture, cultural and moral values of France. At present, using rich historical traditions, the Republic of France follows the path strongly determined by its predecessors and decently represents its country in world community.

Azerbaijan is a newly independent state. Taking into consideration our past, we highly appraise our independence as a historic achievement. Using the opportunity today, I want to note once again the independence of Azerbaijan is irreversible and we will never allow any attempt against our independence. Sense of independence is dear to us. The French have always respected and strongly kept their independence.

During the processes that happened in Europe and in the whole world after the Second World War France kept and still keeps its independence. This is a good and worthy example for us. Trying to strengthen our independence, we establish sincere, honest, and respectable relations with all the countries of the world. I have no doubt that the relations between France and Azerbaijan will be distinguished by their purity, sincerity, openness, adherence to democratic principles and universal values.

Azerbaijan faces very complex problems. We try to eliminate them successfully. The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict became an international problem. As a result of this conflict, the Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan was violated, over one million Azerbaijani citizens were forced to flee their native lands. They live in difficult conditions, most of them languish in tents. Despite great losses, big moral and material damages caused to Azerbaijan, our position is to solve the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict peacefully, establish strong peace in our region. The peaceful resolution of the conflict may be possible if universally recognized principles and norms of international law are observed. It includes restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, liberation of the occupied territories, return of refugees to their homes, granting the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh security guarantees and high autonomy.

Our main principles of peaceful resolution are internationally recognized principles. They are principles of OSCE. As I perceive from the statement by Mr. Minister today, they are also principles that France is adherent to. We will solve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan peacefully and achieve peace in the Caucasus. We are against conflicts, separatism, terrorism, and any form of aggression. Today we exchanged views on these issues and found out mutual understanding and similar views on most of them. I hope we will further receive support of the Republic of France in solution of problems of Azerbaijan and of the entire region.

I think that the visit of the big and respectable delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which also includes French parliamentarians and senators, to Azerbaijan will give an impetus to further development of friendly relations and cooperation between our countries. I hope that we will be able to continue our negotiations in France. I will certainly accept the invitation of the French President Jacques Chirac and visit Paris. I appreciate this offer and consider it an attention to the relations between France and Azerbaijan. We sincerely want friendship and cooperation with France.

I offer this toast to the Republic of France, to the French people, to the state of France. To the French President Mr. Jacques Chirac! To the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Mr. de Hervé de Charette, to his wife! To the members of the French delegation, to the French Parliament and the Senate! To the representatives of the legislative body of France who are present here! To the French, to France! To you!

Brief essays


General historical background

Azerbaijani-French relations

Historical backgrounds

Azerbaijan - Europe