From the talk of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with Daniel Tarschy, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe - Strasburg, European Palace, October 9, 1997

Daniel Tarschy: Mr. President! I am glad to welcome you sincerely in France. Having accepted the invitation of the President Jacques Chirac you have come to the summit, it honors me. I should note that supreme delegations of the 46 states, including 26 presidents and 20 MPs will participate in the second summit of the heads of states and governments of the member countries of the Council of Europe in the European Palace in Strasbourg.

We are glad to see Azerbaijan in the European structure. You have joined two conventions of the Council of Europe. We begin to know each other much better gradually. I am ready to help the Republic of Azerbaijan closely to join the Council of Europe.

Heydar Aliyev:  Mr. Tarshis! I am grateful to you for the warm reception. I am glad for the opportunity of Azerbaijan to participate in this summit. We want to participate in all the structures of the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan establishes a democratic state. This is a difficult process. To declare democratic principles and to implement them are different things. We have adopted a democratic constitution and elected the parliament on the basis of the multi-party system. However, we need time to reach the level of the European democracy.

I am fully satisfied that our positions with the European Council coincide. I am pleased that in your speech you highly appreciated our devotion to the principles of the Council of Europe. By pointing out difficulties in the state building, in the implementation of reforms, including democratic reforms I should note that the lack of stability in the country, attempts of overthrow some years ago delayed the processes. Now the situation has improved fundamentally. Establishment of socio-political stability paves the way for the steps to democratic reforms. However, the major difficulty is connected with the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict. As a result of this conflict, which began with the territorial claims of Armenia against Azerbaijan, 20 percent of our territories have been occupied, more than a million of our citizens have been displaced from their native lands, and now the majority of them live in the refugee camps in critical conditions. Subsequently, Azerbaijan suffered from tremendous material damage and spiritual harm. Nevertheless, we signed an armistice agreement in May, 1994 and we also implement it. I mention again that the first democratic parliament has been elected, the parliament elected democratically functions in the republic. Establishment of internal stability and observation of ceasefire offer all necessary facilities to begin the reforms in the country. Although we began to realize these things later than the CIS, we have advanced them in many fields. We have enough achievements in the field of reforms, reconstruction of economy. We are on the way to integrate into the world economy. Our principles are clear and the progress of Azerbaijan on the way of independence and democracy is irreversible.

We want to settle the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia peacefully on the basis of the principles adopted in the Lisbon Summit of the OSCE. The conflict going on since 1988 because of the territorial claims of Armenia against Azerbaijan has resulted in the occupation of 20 percent of our territories by Armenia. Over a million of citizens of Azerbaijan languish in refugee camps. We believe that we shall settle the conflict in the shortest period with the mediation of the Minsk Group of the OSCE organized to settle this conflict peacefully. From this point of view the last proposal of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group generates great hopes.

Daniel Tarschy: I hope that the conflict will be settled peacefully. There is a great interest in Europe, and I want the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh to be settled peacefully.

Translated from "Our independence is eternal", Volume XII, Azerneshr, Baku, 2004, page 283.