From talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev while receiving Abduqafur Abdurahmanov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Azerbaijan - Presidential Palace, February 13, 1999

Abduqafur Abdurahmanov: In fact, we began our full time work after arranging a building for our Embassy and equipping it technically. At the moment, we work with all strength as at home. We don`t have any problems. Most important, we feel all the time that we are brothers. We are not refused anything, anywhere. We don`t have a problem.

Heydar Aliyev: Very good. Thanks to your activity, I mean the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Azerbaijan and Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan, our cooperation must develop more successfully now. We have an Embassy only in Uzbekistan in the Central Asia. Therefore, it proves that we attach great importance to our cooperation with Uzbekistan.

We have talked about it with President Islam Karimov several times about it, including during the conference on the restoration of the historical Silk Road held in Baku in September, last year. I think that our cooperation advances successfully since then. I repeat once more that we attach great importance to it. Participation of Uzbekistan in the process of the Transcaucasian highway, restoration of the Silk Road and TRASECA program and more active usage of the Transcaucasian highway than the other Central Asian countries create condition for much broader cooperation. I am very much pleased with it.

Abduqafur Abdurahmanov: Indeed, the Transcaucasian corridor is vital for Uzbekistan, because we don`t have an access to the sea. That is why, our president and people highly appreciate your initiative to hold a conference on the restoration of the ancient Silk Road. It is very pleasant for me that Uzbekistan is the most active participant of this corridor. If to look at numbers, we can see that Uzbekistan carried more than 700 thousand tons of its export-import cargoes via this road. We intend to increase the volume of the transportations in the current year, because it is really the most direct and beneficial road. Our ancestors used this road not in vain. The progress of the culture coincided with the period during which this road was used most intensely. Europe achieved glass, powder and a number of other things via this road.

We take it very seriously. At the moment, we have a joint venture in the Poti port of Georgia. We built depots and brought technical equipment there and use them very effectively. We have a plan to establish such a venture, a transport-expeditor company in Baku as well. Because, it seems to me that Baku is the core of this transport corridor and all infrastructures are concentrated here, I mean highways, railroads, and sea and air transport. That is why our president, Islam Karimov proposed to establish the Secretariat of the TRASECA program here, in Baku.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, such a decision was adopted and the secretariat will probably start its activity in April. We have assigned a relevant residence for it. It will work. You are quite right that Baku occupies a special place and position on the Silk Road due to its infrastructure, port equipments, communications and other facilities, and it is certainly necessary for you to use the opportunities of Baku.

Abduqafur Abdurahmanov: You are probably aware of the news that there will be a solemn opening ceremony of a highway connecting Uzbekistan and Kirgizia with China on February 28. The construction of the highway started according to the agreement signed between China and Uzbekistan and Kirgizia, and it will be completed in February. It is the continuation of the Great Silk Road and must attract the attention of a number of countries who want to get the shortest access to the Pacific Ocean basin.

Heydar Aliyev: That is right. It is a part of the Silk Road and it is good.

Abduqafur Abdurahmanov: Your decision to joint this agreement was very pleasant for us. Purely procedural issues are being agreed now. I will be very glad to inform our President that Azerbaijan intends to join this agreement.

Heydar Aliyev: Very good, recently we took a good start of successful development of cooperation between Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan and we shall continue it actively.

Abduqafur Abdurahmanov: We must be active to intensify our economic cooperation. Active preparation is under way for the next meeting of the bilateral economic commission to be hold in May. We don`t want only economic issues in the agenda. It would be better to include the issues connected with the cooperation in the spheres of science, technology and sport as well. At the moment we work with the relevant ministries and chief agencies of Azerbaijan for the agenda to be rich and volumous. I suppose it will give further impetus to the development of our relations in these spheres.

Translated from "Azerbaijan" newspaper, issue of February 14, 1999.