From the talk of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the delegation of UNO world food program - January 14, 1999

Heydar Aliyev: You are welcome to Azerbaijan! I greet you cordially. I estimate your visit and I hope that as a result of this visit the humanitarian assistance of the United Nations to Azerbaijan will increase.

I hope that during your stay here, you will get acquainted with the present situation in Azerbaijan. Prime Minister Arthur Rasizade informed me that he had very detailed negotiations with you. The reality of our Azerbaijan today is very inconsistent. On the one hand, we keep the regime of cease-fire in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict more than four years, and we prevented different negative events inside of Azerbaijan which existed in the past. We provided social and political stability and realized the economic, political, social reforms in Azerbaijan. Along with this, on the other hand, 20 percent of the territory of our country occupied by the Armenian armed forces, it complicates the life of Azerbaijan. More than a million of refugees, internally displaced persons from the occupied territory live in Azerbaijan in hard conditions, the majority of them live in tents. They live with the dream to return to their native lands, therefore, they endure all these difficulties. But the settlement of the question is delayed, and the economic situation becomes worse and worse every day.

I hope you have seen it and you have been told about in detail. I would like to remind you once again. I think that taking into consideration the present reality of Azerbaijan, you will make plans of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United Nations Organization in future.


Robert Hawser (head of the department of the UNO world program on the countries of the Eastern Europe and CIS): Mr. President, thank you very much. First of all I want to express my deep gratitude for the reception. Secondly, I want to express my thanks to the representatives of the government for support, assistance and cooperation at all levels. I want to say that we have been given every kind of support, and then cooperated with us in the regions and in Baku. Though it was a short-term visit, but it was productive, and on the whole it passed in the spirit of cooperation. As I noted, our visit is a short visit. But in spite of this short-term, we have visited some regions and met the refugees, have got enough information. During our visit we met Mr. Ali Hasanov, who is engaged humanitarian questions, and as you have noted we have had such a meeting with prime-minister Mr. Arthur Rasizade. We have discussed with him these questions, but we want to inform you repeatedly.

It is better to see it once than to hear about it hundreds of times, and I think that this mission, that is to say, my colleagues they were able to see everything sufficiently to become familiar with the question. We have drawn some conclusions and have planned for myself how to lead our cooperation in future.

I can say resolutely about one thing that we were victims till today. That is to say, we were the victims of conversations conducted around the Caspian region and around oil. We had such an impression that Azerbaijan is a very reach country. But I want to say that it is not so. We look to the future with great hope. We think these natural resources of our country will influence its life also in near future, and Azerbaijan will really become a rich country. Particularly i is the layer of the country, whom we call refugees.

The main opinion of this mission is we shall inform our leaders, and also to the donor countries and different organizations that it is necessary to continue to render assistance to Azerbaijan. But the main direction of this assistance must change. Today it must be concentrated mainly on the rehabilitation and employment of refugees. We have discussed all these questions with Prime Minister. And therefore, we do not want to discuss it with you. But our opinion is that the assistance must be continued to the refugees. In particular, we must continue the psychological assistance, in order to take out from that psychological condition.

As it is said in one old proverb, we must teach to fish, not give fish to purple. From this point of view, as the continuation of the told, I want to note that the fisherman must fish enough not only for his family, but for all the country. We think to continue our work in this spirit.

Heydar Aliyev: I thank you. First of all I am satisfied that you visited the refugees and particularly that you have met people who have left their places, and you observed their situation yourself.

Azerbaijan wants to become a rich country, and there are grounds for it. But still we are not rich, and it demands much time. We are a proud people. If we were rich, we never ask for assistance from anybody. On the contrary, we render assistance to others. If we ask assistance from other countries and the United Nations Organization, its institutions on humanitarian assistance for the refugees in Azerbaijan then it means that we have difficulties, we are obliged to do it.

And therefore, I would like that your impressions on Azerbaijan, form a basis for the further cooperation with Azerbaijan.

We try that the occupied territories of Azerbaijan will be liberated and the Azerbaijanis who left them return here. If we reach this, we shall refuse to take the assistance, or change its form. Unfortunately, we have not yet reach it up to now. Our great achievement is that we have stopped the war, prevented the bloodshed, established the regime of cease-fire and we keep this regime four and a half year. But it is necessary, that the people who appeared in hard situation will continue to live. And we have not strength for this. It is connected with the processes happened in the economy of Azerbaijan, and with unemployment among majority of people, who became the refugees.

And therefore, I hope that this your mission has very important meaning in order to make the basis for our cooperation in the future. I thank you. I am very satisfied that you have visited Azerbaijan with such a large staff. I hope that we will see the positive results of your mission.

Therefore, I hope that this your mission has very important significance in order to compose the basis for our cooperation in the future. I thank you. I am very satisfied that you have visited Azerbaijan in such a large staff. I hope we shall see the positive results of your mission.

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, January 15, 1999.

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