From the speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev with the delegate of NATO headed by Secretary - General Javier Solana - Presidential Palace, September 30, 1998

Heydar Aliyev: I sincerely welcome the distinguished guests. Welcome to Azerbaijan! Mr. Secretary - General ! I am pleased to meet you again. Four years ago, in May 1994, I went to the headquarter of NATO in Brussels for the first time, and signed "Partnership for Peace" program. In May 1996, I went to Brussels for the second time, and Mr. Secretary - General, I met you there. Then, I submitted the document of Azerbaijan for joining the "Partnership for Peace" program to you. Thus, we joined to this program and cooperate with you. Mr. Javier Solana, you first visited Baku in February last year. I remember our meetings in Madrid and New York, we had productive talks. You are visiting Azerbaijan again. I think that the relations between Azerbaijan and NATO have noticeably improved, and Azerbaijan`s participation in "Partnership for Peace" program was successful in the past four years. We highly appreciate it and intend to continue this cooperation. I assume that we can thoroughly discuss numerous issues in this regard during your visit to Baku.

Javier Solana: Mr. President, many thanks for your kind words. I always remember with pleasure our three meetings last year. Most importantly, we have assembled to discuss not only what has been done within "Partnership for Peace" program, but also to discuss other issues concerning the security in the world. In my opinion, we can learn more from the exchange of views with President Heydar Aliyev. I think there are more issues to deal with in the XXI century since the globalization is under way, and initiatives are made regionally. The international conference of Baku on the restoration of the historical Silk Road, organized on the initiative of Azerbaijan, is a remarkable event. This conference is a proof to globalization, on the one hand, and to regional cooperation, on the other. Participation of more than 30 countries in the conference indicates that they are willing to cooperate. It is a good example of mutual activity implemented through economic cooperation, trade, and joint initiatives for the sake of security. I think we must focus more on safety and security in the forthcoming century. Indeed, the word "safety" has a practical meaning. But it is also related to economic development, trade and other issues that will eventually ensure the security of our world in the upcoming century. Mr. President, I congratulate you on your initiatives. Bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and NATO develop well, and I am glad for that. We want Azerbaijan and NATO cooperate on a bilateral basis more widely. I thank your for your hospitability, and I am pleased to be here again.

Heydar Aliyev: I extend my gratitude to you, Mr. Secretary - General of NATO. I fully agree with you that the world is changing rapidly, and we should achieve security in the world towards the XXI century. Safety and security are of utmost importance for each country and for the whole world. It is very crucial for Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has a strategical location. I stress our willingness of an efficient use of this location not only for our republic, but also for our partners. I want to note that there are many challenges for Azerbaijan. As your are aware, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is still unresolved. The Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of the Azerbaijani territory as a remet of this conflict. More than a million of Azerbaijani citizens have been expelled from the occupied territories. Now they live in tents, in terrible conditions. We signed a ceasefire agreement four years ago. The conflict, however, has not been settled yet. We want to solve the conflict peacefully. The Minsk Group and co-chairs - Russia, the U.S. and France of OSCE, are engaged in this issue. We hope that we shall achieve the peaceful settlement of the conflict. But we are concerned about some other factors. For instance, while there is a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia supplied Armenia with ammunition and arms worth of a billion USD illegally. We protested against it. Regretfully, no positive feedback has been received yet. Moreover, we are concerned about the fact that Russia keeps its military bases and armed forces in Armenia, and to some extent in Georgia. We attempt to establish security in the Caucasus. Countries in the Caucasus are independent states. There is no need to keep a military base and armed forces of other countries in Armenia and Georgia. Certainly, it impedes the maintainance of peace and security in the Caucasus.

Furthermore, I express my gratitude to you, Mr. Secretary - General for your high appreciation of the international conference in Baku, on September 7-8, dedicated to the restoration of the Silk Road. We establish a landmark in the history while heading towards XXI century. Participation of delegates from 32 countries, including 9 presidents and delegates of 13 international institutions in this conference indicates that they share the same views. Important economic issues have been discussed. The adopted decisions and statements are aimed at ensuring peace and security in our region, at the restoration of the Silk Road. Another international conference and the Tenth Congress of the Caucasian Muslims were opened today in Baku. I participate in it, too. Delegates from the Caucasus republics and from Islamic countries as well as religious leaders. The underlying issue of the international conference is to maintain peace and security. I want to emphasize that we take appropriate measures in this context. But, unfortunately, there are many obstacles on the way to maintain peace and security. Our intention is to direct our cooperation towards peace and security not only in our region, but also in the world. I believe that your visit and our talks serve this goal. Many thanks.

Javier Solana: Mr. President, I thank you once more. I believe that my visit to Baku will be productive and successful.