From the talk of President of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev with the delegation of the USA Congress - August 12, 1999

Heydar Aliyev: Honorable guests, the delegation of Congress of the United States of America! You are welcome to Azerbaijan! I greet you and hope that for this short time of your stay in Azerbaijan, within some hours, you seem to be here until tomorrow morning, you will get to know our country much better.

Our interpreter has informed me that someone is dissatisfied by presence of the representatives of mass media here. But you do not worry, we will talk without the participation of representatives of mass media either. The embassy of the United States of America to Azerbaijan knows well that all my meetings with foreign delegations are held with the participation of representatives of mass media.

I think that the visit of the group of congressmen of the United States of America Congress to Azerbaijan will promote the development of contacts between the USA and Azerbaijan.

You know that after gaining the state independence by our country, we make efforts in order to gradually develop the relations between Azerbaijan and the United States of America and expand them. I stress with satisfaction that the government of the United States of America wishes to cooperate closely with Azerbaijan and makes efforts towards the development of relations between the United States and Azerbaijan. And many in the Congress also want it. I have been to the United States of America few times and held meetings in the Congress. My last meetings in the USA Congress took place in April, this year. During my participation at the 50th jubilee of the NATO, I met the number of senators and congressmen. I can say that all the people I met or their majority attach great importance to Azerbaijan and they think it is necessary to develop the Azerbaijan-American relations.

It is natural that a short-term visit cannot allow getting acquainted closely with our country, our nation and the processes ongoing here. We always want many representatives of the United States of America Congress and government, as well as the world of business to visit Azerbaijan and see our country. All of them will first of all contribute to better recognition of Azerbaijan in the United States of America; secondly, it will demonstrate visually the opportunities of cooperation between the US and Azerbaijan and third, it will naturally develop the existing contacts between Azerbaijan and the United States of America.

Azerbaijan is a young independent country. As you know, Azerbaijan lived in a totalitarian regime within 70 years just as other republics of the former Soviet Union and after gaining the independence, the process of building a democratic, legal and temporal state is going on in our country. Azerbaijan carries out reforms in all the spheres. Azerbaijan is full of resoluteness to protect, maintain and develop its independence.

It is natural that this way is not easy not only for us, but also for other republics. We face a number of difficulties. However, we cope with them and I hope we will cope with them henceforward as well. Along with difficulties, we have definite achievements. I do not intend to take much time and inform you about them in detail. If you are interested, you can get relevant information. But the majority of our achievements consist of the fact that we opened our doors to the entire world and we encourage the inflow of foreign investment to Azerbaijan. We fulfill the important work in the sphere of joint extraction of natural resources, in particular, oil and gas deposits of Azerbaijan together with large oil companies of the West, i.e. Europe, America. And this work already yields its result.

You know that the United States of America occupies an important place in new oil strategy of Azerbaijan state. One may say that the majority of large oil companies of the United States of America carry out joint work together with us in Azerbaijan.

Besides the contracts concluded with the companies of the United States of America within the last years, four new contracts with big oil companies of your country were signed in July - August, 1997 when I was in the United States of America. These contracts were signed in White House with the assistance of the government leaders. When I was in Washington in April, current year, another three contracts were signed there. I am highly satisfied that these contracts were signed in the building of the US parliament. You have an opportunity to get detailed information about it both in America and Azerbaijan. Anyway, it proves that Azerbaijan establishes the relations of a long-term strategic cooperation with the United States of America and tries to develop it.

The hardest problem of our country is the problem inherited by the independent Azerbaijan from the past. You know that in 1988, when Azerbaijan and Armenia still were within the structure of the Soviet Union, the matter of Upper Karabakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) emerged due to the territorial claims of Armenia to Azerbaijan. It grew into a military conflict and the battles started. As a result, 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan was occupied by Armenian armed forces, and more than a million of Azerbaijanis were driven out from the occupied lands, their native places and homes and live now in hard conditions, in tents.

Honorable congressmen, you know this problem well. Therefore, there is no need to give more detailed explanation. But to my regret, you approach to this problem one-sidedly. I am satisfied that despite the fact that you are in Azerbaijan with a short-term visit, you have visited today one of a tent-camps by a helicopter and met the people living there over 6 years.

I was informed that Mr. Pallone had no opportunity to visit the tent-camp on a helicopter. But there are also refugees placed in many places of Baku. According to the information given to me, Mr. Pallone has visited one of the Baku districts, where the refugees are quartered.

I think after you have seen them, you can imagine the hard situation of our country since the occupation of Azerbaijani lands.

In May, 1994, we signed the cease-fire agreement with Armenia and have been observing it for more than five years. Today, I state once again that Azerbaijan wants to settle this issue only peacefully. We will not spare our efforts in this direction henceforth.

I think after you have seen the people living in tents, you can understand why we have been trying for 7 years to get unjust article 907 adopted by the US Congress as regards Azerbaijan cancelled.

At any case, whatever obstacles we face, our adherents in the United States of America, Congress or public organizations understand us, no matter how many of them there are. We continue our just cause. We try to have peace and order established in Caucasus. The occupied territories of Azerbaijan should be naturally liberated and our citizens driven out from their native lands should return to their homes.

This is my brief information. I am ready to listen to you.

Connie Morella (congressmen, state Maryland, republican): Mr. President, thank you very much. Our meeting with you is a peak of our today`s schedule. Thank you very much for this opportunity.

Mr. President, thank you very much that you have received today all of us. This is Mr. Frank Pallone on my right. He is a democrat from New Jersey State and he is here together with his spouse. Mr. Morris Hinchey is on my left. He presents the New-York State, he is a democrat. Another congressman is Mr. Michael Capuano. He presents the Massachusetts State, a democrat, he is here together with his spouse. My name is Connie Morella, I am a republican from the Maryland state.

Mr. President, we know that recently, you have had a heart operation. I want to tell you that my husband underwent four such operations in his heart 13 years ago. Now, he feels excellently.

Heydar Aliyev: It is wonderful, I am very glad. This is excellent news for me.

Connie Morella: Mr. President, your health is very important for us, as we want you to move the peace process ahead. Later on, I want to reply to all you have said.

As regards the representatives of press, I have to inform you that we will have a special press-conference at 18:30. We will not deprive them of any information about the meeting with you.

Heydar Aliyev: So, what would you like to say? Sometimes this question arises when the delegations of the United States of America arrive. Undoubtedly, I will comply with your request. But I want you to know that the publicity and freedom of press is of a high level in Azerbaijan.

I appreciate the representatives of press and ask everybody to go to the press-conference.

The "Azerbaijan" newspaper, August 13, 1999

Brief essays


General historical background

Azerbaijan - USA

Historical backgrounds

Azerbaijan - USA