From the conversation of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Rafael Estrella and the Secretary General of this body Simon Lunn - January 18, 2002

Heydar Aliyev: Dear Mister President!

Dear Mister Secretary General!

Welcome to Azerbaijan. I am very glad to meet you. I greet you in Azerbaijan with all my heart.

I know that you have held here many meetings. Mister Murtuz Aleskerov, the chairman of Azerbaijan`s parliament has invited you and organized your visit. He has informed me on your meetings. I am very happy that you, the president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, show interest in Azerbaijan and have familiarized with Azerbaijan for a short term. Please, I am listening to you.

Rafael Estrella: Mister President, first of all I would like to express you my gratitude for receiving us today. It is a great honour for me to be in your country. I am very glad that I have accepted the invitation of the chairman of your parliament mister Aleskerov and arrived here. Our current visit is a proof for the continuation of the relations between the Azerbaijan`s parliament and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

The Azerbaijani delegation led by mister Aleskerov very actively participates in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and they informed us about Azerbaijan. They take part in all seminars, meetings and in the exchanging of opinions carried out by the assembly.

On the eve of our visit in your country in these days, we have held a number of important discussions. We have conducted exchange of opinions on the present realities of Azerbaijan during the discussions. We have also discussed a number of problems with which your country has faced. As it is known, the most important problems among them are existence of numerous refugees, the people, who had been expelled from places of constant residing within the limits of the country, in territory of Azerbaijan and also the absence of any promotion in the settlement of the Upper Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) problem. Unfortunately, the international community, the international organizations have been insufficiently active in this question, and resolutions of the United Nations Organization have not been executed up to now.

The Azerbaijani delegation in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly constantly directs attention of other delegations represented in the Parliamentary assembly to this question and tries to reach the realities of Azerbaijan to the world.

Mister President, I want to say that one of the most valuable moments in our assembly is an openness, distribution of the information, and your delegation shows sufficient activity connected with it and reach the information on the processes going in the country to us in due time. Owing to your delegation, we become aware of the processes going on the Southern Caucasus, including the Central Asia.

As a result of the cooperation with your delegation and the information received from it, we adjust our relations as well as with other countries. For instance, I can say that during an exchange of opinions with Russia, we have called them for more constructive work in the Southern Caucasus. We highly appreciate your efforts till now and in the meetings with the members representing various political parties in the parliament we have always declared that we highly assess the westernized orientation of Azerbaijan and its adherence to freedom, democracy and supremacy of law.

Yesterday and today we held discussions connected with Azerbaijan and the situation which has developed around Azerbaijan. We know that your visit to Russia and then to Iran is planned one of these days.

We know that both these neighboring countries assume extremely great value for your region, and your country. At the same time, we welcome your participation in GUUAM. We know that Azerbaijan is the country playing the leading role in this organization. As you see, we have paid more attention to all these questions, an exchange of opinions in our joint talks.

Mister President, we wish to express our gratitude to you for hospitality.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

I understood from your words that you know everything about Azerbaijan. Therefore, I consider that there is no necessity to give you additional information.

First, I am glad that, as you said, our delegation actively participates in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and gives the necessary information on Azerbaijan to the members of Parliamentary Assembly, to all of you and conducts there an exchange of opinions on the problems worrying us.

Secondly, for a short time during your visit, you have carried out very effective work, studied Azerbaijan`s present condition and you know everything. In brief, I can say that Azerbaijan recently celebrated the 10th - year anniversary of its state independence. Independence is the decisive factor for us and we will make the best efforts for the further strengthening of our independence as well as in the future.

As an independent state, we conduct the process of the construction of the legal, democratic, and secular state in Azerbaijan, we carry out reforms and we try to develop Azerbaijan in all spheres on the basis of principles of market economy and democracy. We fruitfully cooperate with all international organizations and we attach a special significance to the cooperation with NATO.

I remember, in 1994 I signed the program "Partnership for Peace" with the NATO in Brussels. Great works have been carried out since then. And finally, we take part in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly as an observer. We wish to cooperate in this direction in the future too.

It seems to me, the chairman of our parliament has told you that it would be better if Azerbaijan becomes an associate member of the Parliamentary Assembly. Anyway, we will continue the cooperation with you in all areas as well.

I am very glad that you have information on the basic problem - the Armenia-Azerbaijan the Upper Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict which worries Azerbaijan very much. I suppose, you also know that Armenia as the country-aggressor, occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s lands.

I know that you have met today with refugees, IDPs and personally saw their condition. But you should know that these are the people who live in rather good conditions as, first, they are in Baku, and secondly, at least they live in buildings, though it is not acceptable. But majority of them lives in tents in the heaviest conditions. It is already more than 9 years and continues till today.

In 1994, we stopped this war. We wish to solve the problem by peace way. However, Armenia impedes to the settlement of the problem. You have noted that Armenia did not realize the resolution of the international organizations connected with this issue, including of the United Nations Organization. It, naturally, causes a big surprise of all our citizens. Both you, and the Parliamentary assembly of the NATO are interested in this matter as well.

The chairman of our parliament has informed me that our representative Ziyafet Askerov had delivered a speech related to this question, presented the detailed information at the seminar in Bucharest. However, you can do anything either. Therefore, we wish very much all the international organizations, including you, to take more effective measures for the maintenance of peace, stability in this region.

We aspire to peace settlement of this question. We generally want peace and wish peace everywhere. We cooperate and we wish to cooperate with our neighboring states on the basis of goodfriendly relations. But in the Southern Caucasus the Armenia-Azerbaijan - the Upper Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict, and the conflicts in Georgia, naturally, have extremely aggravated the situation in the region. And the Southern Caucasus, as you already know well, is one of the important regions of the world.

I think your acquaintance with Azerbaijan and everything that you have seen and heard here, will help us for closer approach to the problems of Azerbaijan in the Parliamentary Assembly of the NATO.

Rafael Estrella: Mister President, you can be fully confident that this coincides with our present goals. Our goal consists of increase of attention to this region.

One of the main objectives worrying our Assembly is a safety and we work for it. Naturally, when we say a security, we mean the safety of the Southern Caucasus and the Central Asia. It is necessary to have a close cooperation with the countries in the region for maintenance of this safety. The security in Georgia, especially in Azerbaijan is very important for us.

Having received a trustworthy information about the region, the members of our Assembly arrived at a conclusion, - you may be certain that the members of the Assembly are distinguished persons in their countries, - that any violation of a security in this region, infringement of security of this region can lead to infringement of security in the Eurasian space as a whole.

Mister President, I have to inform you that we conduct numerous conversations and discussions with representatives of the Russian parliament. Though we do not agree on some problems, nevertheless they are already in the opinion that we cannot carry on the general discussions, without discussing the safety issue of the Caucasus. It was necessary to create an opportunity for us to conduct similar talks with representatives of Russia. That is, to involve the representatives of Russia in this question, naturally, representatives from your region were necessary. The representatives of your region, your country have adequately carried out this duty. Therefore, in our conversations and discussions with representatives of Russia we could bring them to such opinion that during our discussions the questions connected with the Southern Caucasus should be discussed at any cost.

I should note that the seminar of the NATO will take place in 2003 in Baku. Mister President, I wish to ask you to personally patronize this seminar. I consider that in general during this seminar, members of your parliament can become closely acquainted with the questions on security and defense. We would like to get the relations with your parliament on a level of institutions, so that, to have direct contacts with them.

Heydar Aliyev: Perfect, I agree with it. However, if the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict is over, and peace is achieved in our region, all these seminars, meetings and discussions would be very significant for us. We are ready to conduct all conversations, seminars as well as henceforth. But we want to get real results.