From the conversation of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the diplomatists of the Moslem countries working in Azerbaijan - December 27, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: I didn`t want to disturb you in this day of holiday. However, I was told that the ambassadors of the Moslem countries who celebrate this holiday want to meet me in order to congratulate me. I was very glad to hear that we would meet on this holiday for the first time. Ambassadors of the Moslem countries, the peoples work in Azerbaijan, they believe in Islam, which is a great religion. Azerbaijan has got rid off the restrictions of many years. Now our people are free and they celebrate all the religious holidays. I have no doubt that each of you, I mean Ambassadors fasted in Ramadan and you didn`t eat or drink, observed all the religious rites and today you celebrate Ramadan.

I`ve sent my congratulations on Ramadan to the leaders of your countries; however, taking the chance I want to congratulate each of you on the occasion of this holiday again. At the same time I heartily congratulate your countries and your peoples.

As I was informed the number of people who observed the rites of Ramadan in Azerbaijan, I mean who fasted is more than in other countries. And this is a positive fact. It means that we have reestablished our historical, spiritual and religious traditions.

Here we have ambassadors in whose countries there wasn`t the communist ideology. However, we also have ambassadors who lived in Soviet Union together with us. Then there was a kind of antireligious propaganda in our country. In those years religion was said to be opium for people. These are the words of Marx. So, during 70 years this propaganda was kept on, they said that as if you follow the rites of religion then you are a drug addict. Apparently, this was said in order to frighten the people. They said that people addicted by drugs or opium could get sick, and said that the same they could get from religion. However, religion lived in the hearts of people. Of course, majority of young people was far from religion but respect to religion has passed from generation to generation.

Now, when we`ve become an independent state, all our religious customs and traditions have been reestablished. Ramadan has been restored as well. We observe Ramadan in Azerbaijan, too. And today we celebrate this holiday. We celebrate it just one day, but in a number of countries it is celebrated for 3-4 days. I`m very glad to meet you and to celebrate this holiday together.

I don`t want to speak about the significance of Ramadan for Moslems. You know that better than me. I want to notice again that this holiday took its worthy place in Azerbaijan. I congratulate you on Ramadan again. This is all that I wanted to say.

Kadri Edjvet Tezdjan (Turkish Ambassador in Azerbaijan): Mr. President, on behalf of the ambassadors of the Moslem countries - Libya, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Turkey I want to congratulate you on this dearest holiday of our religion, on Ramadan, and we express our gratitude to you for the reception.

Mr. President, this holiday coincides with another memorable day, 31st of December - the Day of Solidarity of all the Azerbaijanis of the world. At the same time New Year is coming up. Let me congratulate You and the dear Azerbaijani people on this event.

You`ve expressed very deep and interesting thoughts. In fact, Ramadan occupies a special place in our religion. For the people who have the opportunity and whose health allows to fast in Ramadan it is useful from two points. First of all, it is a struggle against one's passions, desires which is most difficult for a man. And secondly, it is an understanding of the state of the poor people.

However, our religion consists not only of rites. Our religion is in the heart, in the soul of man. I think that only in our religion there is no need for a mediator between man and god. Our religion cultivates love and respects, if we spent our life as an atheist and at the end by telling the prayer we get an opportunity to have mercy like all other Moslems. Mr. President, god almighty and unique wishes the unity of all Moslems in the world, and all necessaries of life for them.

A praise worthy aspect of Islam is it speaks of love, of its welfare and tolerance. We all know, you have repeated many times in your statements that Azerbaijan is a young state. But the Azerbaijani people has an ancient peculiarity-tolerance for other religions and in kind wishes to other peoples.

Today we all know that not only Moslems live in Azerbaijan. Jews and Christians also live here. However, all they live in the same conditions, in mutual respect, in peace and security in the country headed by you.

Mr. President, the Azerbaijani Republic, the Turkish Republic and other Moslem countries are secular states, I mean the religion and state are separate from each other. However, people can`t live without religion. Religion is the most important factor uniting people, inculcating respect for each other, respect of the young for the aged.

Mr. President, You noted that in the Soviet period religion considered to be opium for people, as it was in propagated like that. If we don`t understand inwardly in its true sense why the religion is sent down to people, if we try to overstep it, I mean to permit fanaticism or radicalism, and then it will isolate people from culture, from progress, happiness and other values. If one speaks about religion in this way then he must be a believer. The religion can`t follow the right way by talks only. None of the religions is created for bringing torments to people. And the most progressive of all religions is my religion, the religion the people here. It is the religion of 8 million of Azerbaijanis here and one billion in the world.

Mr. President, I`ve been to many spots of the world, but it is difficult to speak in the presence of the president who possesses such a splendid speech.

Mr. President, in conclusion I want to express my desire to the Azerbaijani citizens, who have to leave their native lands and become refugees, to celebrate this holiday at home in future. Let Allah allow them have this day.

Mr. President, in the forthcoming millennium I wish success to your people, I wish they lived in happiness and peace. I want to thank your Excellency for receiving us. I wish your people a life worthy of them. Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Ambassador, thank you. You explained the philosophy of this holiday very deeply. You expressed important thoughts about the spiritual values of the religion. I entirely agree with all the said. I share all these thoughts. And thank you for the kind wishes to the Azerbaijan people.

Ahad Gazai (Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran): Mr. President, I also congratulate the Azerbaijan people on the occasion of Ramadan. I express my gratitude to You. I want to thank my colleagues for the interest that they have demonstrated in this meeting. We appreciate your todays reception of the ambassadors of the Islamic countries as a concern and attention to these countries, to the co-operation with them. The world looks upon Azerbaijan as Islamic country and supports it. The resolutions of the meetings of the Organization the Islamic Conference showed that countries, the members of this organization, support Azerbaijan. The three items of the resolution accepted at the last meeting in Catar concerned of Azerbaijan. In the first item the position of Azerbaijan in the Naghorno - Karabakh conflict was supported, and the participants announced to be the advocates of Azerbaijan. The second item concerned the liberation of the occupied territory of Azerbaijan, and the third item was about the security of the historical and cultural monuments in the Naghorno-Karabakh and in other occupied regions. In any case, integration of Azerbaijan into the Islamic world as an independent country has a great significance.

Yesterday you made a comprehensive and interesting appeal to the Moslems of Azerbaijan. You wished to strengthen patriotism and faithfulness to motherland, to strengthen the belief in the religion, to protect the religious values and to preserve independence, of the country. There were the main items of your appeal All this is compatible with Islam. Islam relies on these values, on such education and upbringing; in your appeal You emphasized all this and demanded their observance.

The Turkish Ambassador also spoke extensively about the essence of Islamic values.

Mr. President, I want to thank you again for the reception. I wish you were healthy. I wish welfare, peace and happiness to the Azerbaijani people. I also wish the occupied territory of Azerbaijan were liberated, and the refugees celebrated this holiday in their native land.

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Ambassador, thank you for congratulations, for friendly relations and kind words. At the same time, your opinion expressed at the meeting of the organization the Islamic Conference held in Teheran, and also at the meeting held in Catar is absolutely correct; it`s a great moral support to us.

I want to tell you that I never forget the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan. Armenia commited a military aggression against Azerbaijan and occupied 20% of our territory. Over a million of people have been driven away from their native lands and have become refugees. But we can`t get due resolutions of the international organizations and of CSCE on this conflict.. To tell the truth, in 1992-1993 the Council of security of the UNO adopted resolutions on unconditional and immediate liberation of the Azerbaijani territory occupied by the Armenian armed forces. But unfortunately, none of them has been fulfilled. Armenia ignores all of them; the UNO demonstrates its weakness in this question.

At all the meetings of the Organization the Islamic Conference, which joins all the Moslem states, in which I participated as well, I mean in Morocco, in Iran and in Catar, we were supported. All Islamic countries supported consistently the position of Azerbaijan, demonstrated unanimity. They adopted decisions on the recognition of Armenia as an aggressor, and on the liberation of the occupied territory.

I want to note another important fact demonstrating the unity of the Islamic countries. At the last session of the UNO, in the draft of the resolution on the co-operation between the UNO and the CSCE there wasn`t anything about the Naghorno-Karabakh which is an integral part of Azerbaijan.

It worried us greatly. That`s why I insructed our Ambassador in the USA and our representative in the UNO to work seriously on this question. They said as if the meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of CSCE thought that was not necessary to include this question into that resolution. I objected to it. The co-chairmen of the Minsk Group came to the meet me and I expressed my serious objections to it.. They changed their position and the idea that the Naghorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan, and as in previous years it was included into that document. They voted for the adoption of this document. But the decision on this amendment was adopted, as mostly because of the Moslem states. At the same time I must note that some of the Moslem states in comparison with the last year didn`t vote for Azerbaijan. Of course, we`ll investigate this fact, and find its reason.

I repeat again that most of the Moslem countries demonstrated solidarity and unity, and it provided reflection of the said idea in the document.

Reminding all this I want to say again that the peoples and the states belonging to the Islamic religion in most cases demonstrate their unity, and it helps each Islamic country to achieve the desired goal.

I`d like to preserve our unity and solidarity; it will help to the Islamic countries in their future development.

Taking the chance I congratulate you on the occasion of the forthcoming New Year and o the Day of Solidarity of all Azerbaijanis. It`s a very memorable day for us. And you are our friends. I hope you won`t forget present our meeting. We all step into the 21st century or the third millennium as independent and free states and peoples. I wish your independence and notional freedom were eternal.

I want to convey my New Year greetings to each of you and your peoples. In the forthcoming New Year I wish to each of you health and happiness, and I wish welfare, peace and security to your peoples.

Thank you.