To the participants of the UN conference "Women and armed conflicts" - May 17, 1998

Distinguished participants of the conference!

I cordially welcome you and wish success to the participants of the international conflict held in Baku.

One of the features of the 20th century is the growing activity of women in public and political life of the world nations. It is an undeniable fact that wars, military conflicts create difficulties for women. Therefore, it is natural that they confidently and zealously struggle for peace and stability, against military conflicts.

It is expected that the conference dedicated to these issues is held in Baku, Azerbaijan. Every citizen, especially women of our republic which has been in the state of war for over 10 years, with 20 per cent of its territories under the occupation of the Armenian armed forces and more than one million refugees forced to leave their homes and living in tents in hard conditions, understand all the disasters of the armed conflict in their daily lives.

There has been a ceasefire and there are not military operations in the frontline for four years. However, despite all our efforts, relevant decisions of the UN, activity of the Minsk Group of OSCE on the peaceful solution of the conflict, no peace is achieved. I hope that your conference will assist the peaceful solution of the conflict that brought big tragedies to the Azerbaijani people, especially the women.

The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan ensures equal rights for men and women in our society. Big opportunities for the representation by women in public and political life, as well as in the state structures of the country are being created.

I want to assure you that the Republic of Azerbaijan pursues the way of establishment of a democratic, legal and secular state and will do more for the expansion of the rights of women.

Distinguished participants of the conference!

Your conference is dedicated to the issues, which are important for our region. I wish the women ceased the armed conflicts and the mankind entered the 21st century in peace and stability.

Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.