Speech of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with President of France Jacque Chirac - Paris, Elysee Palace, January 13, 1997

Mr. President! Thank You for the kind words about Azerbaijan and for the invitation of official visit to France, and I want to note that the independent Azerbaijan gives great attention to further strengthening of relations with all the countries of Europe including France.

The documents signed between Azerbaijan and France during my official visit to France in 1993 at the invitation of the late President Fransua Mitterand, provided a firm basis for the cooperation between our countries. I want to remind that these documents were confirmed by the parliament of the country and is being implemented successfully. Today we must think of the necessity of much closer rapprochement of contacts between our countries in the sphere of economy, culture and others and how to attain them.

The most painful problem for our independent country, which has chosen the way of democratic development, is the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan. As a result of this aggression 20 percent of the territories  of our republic has been occupied, over a million of our citizens have been forced to leave their permanent residences, they live in tents in very hard conditions, and this situation continues up to now. In this war unleashed by the Armenian armed forces, our country has suffered serious material and moral losses. You can get a thorough information only looking at a map of Azerbaijan. However, we want to settle the conflict peacefully, and just for this purpose, we want to make use of the cease-fire regime reached in the war in May 1994. We are confident that the negotiations held within the framework of the Minsk Group of OSCE for the peaceful settlement of the military conflict and negotiations held with the mediation of a number of great powers will give their benefit, and compel Armenia to give up its aggressive intentions.

We note the great importance give up of the declaration adopted in the Lisbon Summit OSCE in December of 1996, in settelement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani confilict over Nagorno-Karabakh at the same time we want to express our satisfaction with the support of France to the position of Azerbaijan in Lisbon. Our country does not want war, we want peace and therefore we take a compromising position. I am sure that those three principles adopted in Lisbon, - recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Armenia, granting a high status of autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh in the structure of Azerbaijan, guaranteeing safety to all the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, will play an important role in a peaceful settlement of conflict.

We declare with a feeling of regret that Armenia continues to ignore the resolutions of international organizations, legal regulations recognized by all the countries of the world, and does not take any concrete steps for the settlement of the military conflict. We want the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the territory of our country, restoration of the territorial integrity and inviolability of our borders and return home.

I want to express my satisfaction for the particular attention which France pays to the relations with our country, and I am sure that France, will enlarge its activity more as an active member of the Minsk Group alongside with other states and more activate its efforts for the immediate settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

The present social and political situation in our republic is stable, and a great work is carried out in Azerbaijan in the sphere of construction of a legal democratic state and realization of reforms. Our republic pursues road of market economy, pays serious attention to the establishment of close relations with the states of the world. Our country signed contracts with a number of authoritative companies of the world on joint  oil developments  in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian and these contracts are steadily realize. I am very pleased that our cooperation with “Elf Akiten” and other companies of France develop successfully. I want to declare again that there are large opportunities in Azerbaijan for the activity of businessmen of foreign countries. I want to express my confidence that the signature of the contracts on joint development of deposits “Lenkoran-deniz” and “Talish-deniz” with the participation of the presidents of France, and Azerbaijan today in Paris, in France in the residence of the president in Elysee Palace, will be a historical event in the stable development of economic relations between our countries.

The friendly relations of the President of France to our country gladden us extremely and I want to express my confidence that the contacts between our countries, peoples, both situated in Europe will strengthen and develop much more in  future.

Mr. President, I invite You on an official visit to our country.

“Heydar Aliyev”: Our independence is eternal” (statements, speeches, declarations, interviews, letters, addresses, edicts)- Azerneshr, Baku-1998, volume 8, pages 240-242