Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the official reception given by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto in honor of the President of Azerbaijan - April 10, 1996

Mrs. Benazir Bhutto,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I cordially greet you on behalf of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani people and express to you and in your person to all the Pakistani people my respect and esteem.

It is the second day that we are in your country, in Pakistan. Here we feel the friendly atmosphere. I sincerely thank you for the attention, care and hospitality shown to us. Mrs. Prime Minister, I believe that the negotiations we held with you today were very fruitful and as a result, nine agreements were signed for the further development of the Pakistani-Azerbaijani relations. Negotiations and agreements signed last October during an official visit of Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari, President of Pakistan, to Azerbaijan, as well as talks and the agreements signed by the President of Pakistan and the Mrs. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto during my official visit, which began yesterday, are a new stage in the history of the Pakistani-Azerbaijani relations. With confidence I can say that there is friendship and close cooperation between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. I declare to you that Azerbaijan will remain faithful to these friendly relations and cooperation and make every effort for their development.

Pakistan gained great achievements as one of the great nations of the world and the largest country in Asia in the fifty years of independence. We highly appreciate these achievements and as a friend it gladdens us. Economic reforms in Pakistan, democratic processes ongoing in the country improved the welfare of the people, peace-loving foreign policy of the country has strengthened its position in the international community and risen its reputation and respect.

We, as a friendly country of Pakistan, support its achievements and the policy it pursues, in particular the steps taken by Pakistan to establish peace and security in Asia and its position in the field of maintaining the independence. In cooperation with Pakistan in all international organizations, we have always expressed our position in support of its just cause. Today, we express our position on the issue of Kashmir. The negotiations we hold indicate that Pakistani-Azerbaijani relations have very good prospects and future. We can achieve joint success in the development of economic relations.

I invited the representatives of Pakistan to Azerbaijan for joint activities and today I once more invite them. You can be sure that we shall make every effort for the development of our cooperation.

The following year Pakistan will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence. Azerbaijan is living only the fifth year of its national independence. There are very heavy and difficult problems facing our country in strengthening our national independence and our sovereignty. Our greatest problem is the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and the damage caused to our country as a result of this aggression, 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory has been occupied and more than a million of our citizens have been expelled from their native lands and are living as refugees.

In the issue of the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan Pakistan has always occupied a very fair position and always condemned the Armenian aggression. In talks held yesterday and today and in her speech the Prime Minister here this morning condemned this aggression repeatedly. For all this I thank the Pakistani government, the country and the Prime Minister, Mrs. Benazir Bhutto.

Because of the difficult economic situation in Azerbaijan, poor living conditions of over a million refugees, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto today issued a statement on the rendering aid in amount of 1 million dollars for our citizens expelled from their homes and live in tents. I am grateful for this help and this statement. I repeat once more that the friendly relations and cooperation between Pakistan and Azerbaijan are unbreakable and our country will always remain faithful to these relations. On behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf I convey my respect and reverence to the ancient country of Pakistan and its people.

I want to express my conviction that as a result of the reforms and democratic changes in Pakistan, the strong economic potential of the country will improve the welfare of your people.

Dear friends, it is the first time that I arrive in Pakistan. But I am informed in detail about Pakistan, its history and the 50-year struggle for independence. The world is well aware of the work done by the Pakistani people in their territory in order to preserve its independence after its acquisition. The struggle of your country for its independence is known throughout the world, including Azerbaijan. In those years, Pakistan experienced a crisis, conflicts and difficulties in the state-building. But your wise people could overcome all this and Pakistan as a major country occupied a worthy place in the world community.

Remembering the history of the recent past in Pakistan I feel a lot of respect and I commemorate the merits of Zulfugar Bhutto, the late father of the current Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, who played a major role in the life of the country in its present day. Continuing the work of her father, Zulfugar Bhutto, Mrs. Benazir Bhutto has great services to the people of Pakistan at a difficult period. I take this opportunity to express my respect and reverence to the family of Bhuttos and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

I wish the Pakistani people new victories and successes on the road of independence and successes in solving the problems facing the Pakistani government. I express my respect and esteem to Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, and friend of the Azerbaijani people. Thank you.