From the talk of Heydar Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, with the delegation headed by Quido Venturioni, chairman of NATO Military Commission, admiral of the Italian navy - Presidential Palace, April 28, 2000

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Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished guests, welcome to Azerbaijan! In connection with the program "Partnership for Peace", the recent meetings between NATO and Azerbaijan assume an intensive character. I praise and greet it. Your visits to Azerbaijan mean, naturally, that you can yourself see the current situation in Azerbaijan. Of course, it all can positively affect our cooperation.

It is true that you have not been long in Azerbaijan. But our Minister of Defense has informed me that you had led definite work. The more important is that you have led negotiations, attended the military schools of our National Army. I guess, it is enough for the first time. However, it is necessary to broaden such meetings and negotiations. Please.

Quido Venturioni: Mr. President, first, I thank you personally for accepting me and the delegation accompanying me today. At the same time, I am thankful to you for your support to the mentioned program "Partnership for Peace".

I know that both NATO and Azerbaijan pay great attention to this program. One of the main goals of the NATO summit held in Washington last year was the expansion of this program as much as possible.

One of our major plans and goals in Brussels, at the NATO headquarters, is to meet the heads of states, our colleagues, to learn their thoughts, to determine our plans and aims within the program and to broaden them. This all has been directed to summing up those initiatives.

Despite the briefness of this visit, I think, it was very interesting, also very useful for us. During the visit I met your Minister of Defense, the Premier and got a lot of information from them. I could also visit military units and the military academy.

Not only I got information here, I also gained direct experience in your country. I am absolutely sure that the meetings held here will be of great significance for my further work.

If you have any questions or ideas on the cooperation within the NATO framework, I am ready to reply to them and share my thoughts.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, I have some questions, ideas. However, before turning to them, I declare one more that we support the program "Partnership for Peace". The Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense and other representatives take an active part in all the events held by NATO.

I myself have been to Brussels, in the NATO headquarters several times. Javier Solano has visited Azerbaijan twice, and we have led broad negotiations with him. Of course, a visit of the new Secretary General Mister Robertson to Azerbaijan soon is also necessary.

I took an active part in the meeting held by NATO in Madrid- that was the summit where the heads of all the states participated- and I stated the positions of Azerbaijan clearly. Last year at the meeting of the heads of states at the semi-centennial meeting of NATO in Washington, I disclosed again my thoughts and position on the principal issues concerning the activity of NATO and our cooperation.

Shortly, you came here yourself and made sure that the work led practically here confirm our words. Thus, the realization of the program depends on both of us. However, I think that now it depends on you more. We implement our duties and obligations. You also should approach it with attention and care, and carry out your obligations.

Quido Venturioni: Mr. President, thanks a lot that you reminded us once the steps taken by Azerbaijan since the beginning of cooperation with NATO. Of course, we always have in mind the steps taken by Azerbaijan, always remember them. In drawing plans for the future we use those efforts in order to establish a stable basis and to make our activity and co-work run faster.

As an example of our good, close cooperation I want to note the participation of the Azerbaijani peacekeeping forces in the operations in Kosovo.

Heydar Aliyev: That is our initiative.

Quido Venturioni: Yes, we are grateful to you, and we know that your soldiers behaved the best way there.

Yesterday before the meeting with the Minister of Defense, I met the head of the delegation which came to Azerbaijan for a few days. He told me that a lot of work has been done.

We have programs, our aims have been defined, and we realize a stable activity. So I will do my best for the expansion of our relations in order to organize our work better in future.

Mr. President, besides, I want to say to you that this visit let me get direct information about your country and see everything myself. Everything I have seen and learnt here will be reported at the NATO headquarters and disseminate among the participants. Definitely, I will report directly to the Secretary General.