From the conversation of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with Bruce Jackson, Director of the Project on Transition of Democracies, co-chairman of the committee on NATO - April 18, 2003

Heydar Aliyev: It is extremely important for us, that you pay attention to Azerbaijan, you have got acquainted with our country. You are director of an unusually important program and work in this sphere. The work you conduct and intend to implement in Azerbaijan is naturally very interesting.

Bruce Jackson: Mr. President, meeting with you is a great honour and a good opportunity. We think that we have made a visit to your country in disturbing period for Europe, in particular for the countries of the Southern Caucasus for the newly democratic countries.

You participated at the historical summit of NATO held in Prague. This was really a historical summit. After the Paris Summit we have strengthened our political activity and accelerated the work with Albania, Macedonia, Croatia. Then we began to work with Ukraine. And now we are in your region. Here we shall meet your Ministers, the questions connected with the adoption of Azerbaijan and Georgia into the Euro-Atlantic Union.

At present we are conducting negotiations with the representatives of Poland, and also with those of the Baltic countries and the new members of NATO- Rumania and Bulgaria.

In the course of these negotiations the representatives of the said countries noted the necessity to work closely with Azerbaijan and Georgia that they should pay attention and to lead the work on the integration of these countries into NATO and also into the European Union. This will be a new Europe mentioned by us. We hope that Azerbaijan will also be a member of the new Europe. We would like to hear Your opinion in this in order to plan how to create regard the project. I would like you to disclose which peculiarities Azerbaijan will introduce into these structures, as a member of them.

Heydar Aliyev: Since 1994, after signature of the agreement with NATO on "Partnership for peace", Azerbaijan is aiming to enter the Euro-Atlantic Union. We constantly conduct this work. But we, how to say, never make noise on this occasion, we work. And our work is going on in this direction. As you know, the representatives of Azerbaijan constantly take part in different structures and organizations of NATO, we have made our contribution during these years.

After Prague we began took necessary measures. It is the result of our aims and intentions that just after the events of September 11 we joined the antiterror coalition of the United States of America. During the period, when preparations were made for operations in Iraq, the world experienced a complicated period. The United States of America declared the indispensable necessity to lead operations and take military measures for the liquidation of the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But unfortunately a lot of countries, including the members of NATO, were against it. Under different pretexts they did not join the coalition of the United States of America.

As you know, we immediately joined this coalition. However, unfortunately, the list of the countries in this coalition included the insignificant number of the members of NATO. It seems very strange. 21 days the USA completed its operations in Iraq, now the countries opposing these operations want to be engaged in the reconstruction works in Iraq. It was such an interesting situation in Iraq. It is necessary to draw a conclusion from all these.

All this testifies that Azerbaijan has adopted the decision to join the Euro-Atlantic Union, in order to be near to the USA even when the other members of the organization ignored it. Our attitude to the said question is like this.

You said that some new countries which joined NATO, declared that Georgia and Azerbaijan should also become members of this organization. I am very glad, it means that they are well aware of our intentions and wishes. You mentioned Ukraine. I do not know you did it on the occasion of entry of Ukraine into NATO, or because of something else. It would be fine, if Ukraine joins it.

Bruce Jackson: We think that Ukraine is an important country. Drawing a conclusion from the history, Ukraine has made a decision to enter NATO. This decision was adopted summer. There will be a meeting between the representatives of Ukraine and the members of NATO in a week in Washington. I absolutely agree with you that the entry of Ukraine into NATO will be a very positive fact.

Mr. President, first of all, the citizens of the USA are grateful to Azerbaijan for the solidarity, and I express my personally gratitude for the leadership in this matter. Thank you, for being together with us, for the support and solidarity, you create grounds for the further joint steps, joint actions.

The work conducted in Azerbaijan has created favorable conditions for the entry of Azerbaijan and its neighbours into NATO.

Membership interfaced with conditions. The first condition is the devotion to the democratic ideas. This question, undoubtedly, concerns the reforms, free elections, democracy as a whole.

Secondly, we have come to such a conclusion that the level of corruption in the majority of countries which lived in colonial conditions in the XX century is very high. The struggle against corruption is one of the main conditions for the entry into the Euro-Atlantic Union. Thirdly, this is the question of cooperation, and the fourth is the matter of time. The next summit of NATO will take place in the summer of 2004. A decision cannot be adopted till then. But we should form our opinion, so that the countries of the Black Sea basin and the Southern Caucasus think of it. If we manage to raise this matter to a necessary level, then during the discussions of the question of acceptance of the members to the organization of the given question can become the subject of serious considerations.

Heydar Aliyev: I understand these conditions. These are problems facing us, irrespective of being accepted to NATO. As we create a democratic and legal society in the independent state all the said will find its solution in Azerbaijan. That is everything will be at a necessary level. For instance, everything connected the elections, democracy, struggle with corruption is clear, we know all these problems , we are engaged and shall be engaged in future with their solution. I repeat once more that we have begun to work in this direction, irrespective of our entry to NATO. 

Translated from "Azerbaijan" newspaper, April 19, 2003.