From the talk of the President of the Azerbaijani Republic Heydar Aliyev with the head of the delegation of the European Union, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Italy, Mrs. Margherita Boniver - 8 July, 2003

Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished Mrs. Margherita Boniver!

Disringuished members of delegation!

I heartily greet you and appreciate highly the cooperation of Azerbaijan with the European Union, as well as the progress achieved. Cooperation with the European Union is of great strategic significance for us. It is one of the priorities of our foreign policy. Based on these principles we maintain contacts with the European Union, strive to develop these relations.

We have been cooperating with the European Union approximately since 1993-1994. But after signing an agreement on partnership with the European Union in 1996, this cooperation started developing even more intensively. The European Union has done great work since its foundation and it has enormous merits before the international community. Thereupon, we consider your visit to Azerbaijan extremely important. I think that during the present visit and after it, you will focus more attention on Azerbaijan.

Margherita Boniver: Thank You very much, Mr. President for You have received me and the delegation. This meeting is indeed very pleasant for us. I have preserved up to date good memories about the previous meeting with You. To be at the head of the delegation is a big honor for me, since the respectable people are represented in our delegation. Mr. Heikki Talvitie appointed a special representative of the European Union on Southern Caucasia countries is on my right.

Heydar Aliyev: He has worked with us formerly too.

Margherita Boniver: Yes, today You see him as the ambassador on the Southern Caucasian countries.

Heydar Aliyev: Excellent, congratulations.

Heikki Talvitie: Thank You very much, Mr. President. 

Margherita Boniver: Deputy Director General of the European Commission for foreign relations, Mr. Michael Leigh and head of the Department for the Eastern Europe, the OSCE and the Council of Europe of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Mrs. Barbara Jones are on my left. Mr. Stefan Lehne is the Director of the Secretariat of the European Union Council on CIS and Western Balkans, and Mr. Michael Swan is an administrator of the Secretariat of the European Union Council on Caucasian and Central Asia.

Mr. President, the purpose of our present visit is to bring to Your attention such political information as the readiness of the European Union to work with your institutions in all the possible areas. We will assist the development of your country with all possible means.

Heydar Aliyev:You did not introduce Mr. Margaret Costa.

Margherita Boniver:Mr. President, I am informed that You know her well. This visit is a great honor for us and we are very proud that we are in Baku.

Heydar Aliyev: She can get upset that You have not mentioned her name. Please.

Margherita Boniver: As I have already mentioned, our primary objective is rendering on assistance. We want to render assistance to your republic in the field of economic and political reforms. You are successfully realizing political and economic reforms. On the whole, we want to assist the process of democratization. We want to render every possible assistance in the field of human rights protection and providing supremacy of law.

Besides, we want to say a few more words. We speak about it in Azerbaijan, we will repeat it in Georgia and Armenia, where we shall go after Azerbaijan. We, as the European Union, want the, regional conflicts to be settled only peacefully. We want elections to be held here based on democratic grounds.

Heydar Aliyev: You can be absolutely sure of that. Despite 20 percent of our lands is under occupation by armenian troops, we concluded a cease-fire agreement in May 1994 and observe it up to now.

Different opinions are currenting in Azerbaijan today. Many people demand that we should return our lands by waging war. And it is natural. After all, the cease-fire agreement was concluded 9 years ago. But the problem still remains unsolved. The positive factor is that Armenia, as well as Azerbaijan observe the given agreement and do not admit its violation. But people have already lost patience, because our fellow countrymen are driven away from their native places, live in tents and want to see the motherland. They are suffering an extremely hard material situation living in unbearable circumstances. Therefore, their demands of such kind are quite natural.

But I am pleased that both the refugees and the layer of the people enduring great troubles in our country accept my policy, understand it and observe the cease-fire agreement. We consider that the European Union should approach this issue more seriously and, making use of its opportunities, help us in the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

As regards other issues, you can be sure that democracy has been established and it rules in Azerbaijan. We follow the way of market economy. We have implemented extremely important reforms, owing to which, we have fully provided our economic development, protection of human rights and freedom of the press. In a word, Azerbaijan is a democratic country. But this democratic country still has many problems which we solve successively.

We are very pleased that in those years - the period when very complicated processes took place in Azerbaijan, we achieved consistent development of our economy. Our economy is developing today and, if you compare it with other CIS countries, you will make sure that we outpace them.

The elections are coming. The presidential election will take place in Azerbaijan. You can be confident that this election will pass in the atmosphere of full transparency, based on the principles of justice along with observing the democratic principles, and we will demonstrate by the results of this election that democracy dominates in Azerbaijan. Today, the socio-political situation in Azerbaijan is absolutely stable. I have raised by 50 percent the wages of employees of all organizations funded from the budget. The polls held witness that the overwhelming majority of the people in Azerbaijan support the administration and there is no doubt that they will give their votes for this it.

I do not want to touch on other problems, as I am informed that you have met all our officials. In particular, you met Prime Minister Artur Rasizade. He informed me about your meeting, conversation. I suppose you could get here the impressions you needed.

Margherita Boniver: Thank You very much, Mr. President, You are quite right. During the day, we discussed with your official persons the issues on the agenda. We touched on all the issues - from the most complicated to the simplest ones. I will not make a mistake if I say on behalf of the delegation that we are absolutely pleased with the meetings held and impressions obtained here. I think we can leave for other countries of the region in such an elated mood.

Heydar Aliyev: Excellent.

Margherita Boniver: From now on, special representative of the European Union on Southern Caucasia, Mr. Heikki Talvitie will often come to this region. I consider that he will successfully implement the mandate entrusted on him.

Heydar Aliyev: So do I.

Margherita Boniver:Mr. President, let me touch on one more issue before parting with You. It concerns the enlarged Europe. I am positive that there is no necessity for a common border among countries, since adherence to peace and approachment with democracy unite people. Thank You very much.

Heydar Aliyev:Quite right. We have supported and we support the enlarging Europe today. Thank You.

The Azerbaijan daily, 9 July, 2003