Speech of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev at the official reception held in honor of the Azerbaijani President on behalf of the Russian President Boris Yeltsin - The Kremlin, Granovit Hall, July 3, 1997

Dear Boris Nikolayevich!

Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen!

I am grateful to you, Boris Nikolayevich, for the invitation to pay an official visit to the Russian Federation. It is my first official visit to Russia as the Azerbaijani President and I am glad that it already produces its positive results. I thank all of you for the hospitality, for the warm and friendly atmosphere created for the realization of the visit of the Azerbaijani President, for friendly feelings to us, to the Azerbaijani people which we met since our arrival here.

Today, there were held fruitful dialogues, negotiations between the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, negotiations and talks of delegations, which created an opportunity to sign very important documents. The treaty on friendship, cooperation and mutual security between Russia and Azerbaijan has an exclusively important historical value for Azerbaijan. We see much in this document, including two sovereign states - the Russian Federation and the Azerbaijan Republic establish relations based on international law, friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation, effective cooperation in the interests of both sides. And all other documents, which were signed, assume great significance and make a good normative-legal base for the further development of our relations.

We appreciate all this highly, because as an independent state, Azerbaijan aspires to establish relations with all the countries on mutually beneficial grounds. But our relations with the Russian Federation are of a special nature, special value. Our historical friendship, historical past and everything, remaining from the previous generations, which is characterized as friendship between the peoples of Russia and Azerbaijan, has a special value for us. Now, when these documents are signed, we enter, in our opinion, a new stage of our relations, and I assure you that Azerbaijan will do its best to develop and strengthen the friendly relations between Russia and Azerbaijan in the interests of Russia and Azerbaijan.

I highly appreciate the statement of President Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin with gratitude that the process of negotiations on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) would become more active. We hope that the efforts of Russia, as co-chair of the Minsk Conference and a country, which has very close, direct relations both to Azerbaijan and Armenia, will lead to concrete practical results.

Today I want to declare once more that we are for the peaceful settlement to this conflict. The cease-fire achieved by us continues over three years. We do not want the renewal of military operations and we shall not allow it on our part. But at the same time, such a situation cannot last forever. Therefore, the efforts of Russia in this question, as the co-chair of the Minsk Conference, are exclusively great, and our people looks at the activity of the Minsk Conference, at the activity of co-chairs - Russia, the United States of America and France - with a special hope and great expectation. And today during the talks with Boris Nikolayevich and in connection with his statement, which he just made, our hopes, expectations have become stronger.

Yes, our peoples have a rich history of friendship and cooperation, and we highly appreciate it. We will never forget all good that Azerbaijan people obtained being a part of the state and being a friend of Russia. Russia, Russian scientists, men of science and culture rendered huge help and support to development of science, culture, education, economy of Azerbaijan. Our people know about it and appreciate it very highly. And I quite agree with Boris Nikolayevich that the friendship is highly appreciated in the Transcaucasia. And we very highly appreciate the friendship, which has been in the past, and the friendship, which we create and will create in the future together with you.

Boris Nikolayevich, today is a significant day - anniversary of your reelection of President of the Russian Federation. It has a special value for Russia and for the Commonwealth of Independent States. All of us together were within the Soviet Union in the past. But all of us simultaneously got the independence, became independent states. All of us experience the transition period, the period of realization of political and economic reforms.

Russia has a great experience in the realization of these reforms. And we all know that Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin has an undeniable role in the organization and realization of political and economic reforms in Russia and in all the countries, in the states of the former Soviet Union. And consequently, I consider that reelecting Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin for the second time on July 3 last year, is an important event for Russia, for all the peoples of Russia, and it has a great importance as well as for the Commonwealth of the Independent States.

We consider the CIS as an important tool for the further development and strengthening of relations between our countries and, naturally, development of mutually beneficial economic cooperation in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Boris Nikolayevich, you make great efforts for the improvement of the activity of CIS. And we consider that if the CIS is improved, if the CIS gets more and more elements of really international organizations, it can render great assistance to the countries of Commonwealth. We want it and we shall do all on our part for the development and consolidation of the Commonwealth of Independent States on the basis of norms and principles of international law. And Boris Nikolayevich, we cherish the great hopes in you in this issue.

It is already many times that all of us unanimously proposed you be the Chairman of the Council of CIS. And from this point of view, your reelection President of the Russian Federation is of great significance.

I congratulate you, Boris Nikolayevich, cordially on the anniversary of this event. I congratulate everyone here on this event and I wish, Boris Nikolayevich, you health, well-being and successes in the implementation of the historical mission. Reforms in Russia, reforms in CIS countries, reforms in Azerbaijan are our future. I want also to tell you that we in Azerbaijan attach great importance to the conduction of reforms and we will not stop on this way. And it is a good basis for the further development of our cooperation.

I raise the glass to President of the Russian Federation, dear Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, to the Russian Federation, to the Russian people, to the further prosperity of Russia, to the Russian-Azerbaijan friendship, to friendship between Russia and Azerbaijan, to Your health.