From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the participants of the 44th session of the Political Commission of the World Customs Organization held in Baku - Presidential Palace, December 5, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: You are welcome to Azerbaijan. I greet you. I think that it very important that Azerbaijan hosts the 44th session of the Political Commission of the World Customs Organization.

Customs Organization is a very important and necessary institution for each country. At the same time, for the better organization of economic and trade relations between the countries, customs bodies should support each other, exchange views and consult. Therefore, I believe that the World Customs Organization conducts an extremely important work. I think that the 44th session of the Political Commission, which is held in Azerbaijan, Baku, will help to implement the tasks facing the customs organizations and functions of the World Customs Organization.

I have sent you, the participants of the session a letter of congratulation. When meeting you today, I wish each of you, including the World Customs Organization, its Political Commission and the 44th session of the Political Commission successes.

Michel Danet (Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization): Mr. President, Ladies and gentlemen, On behalf of me and members of the delegation presenting here, I want to say that we are honored to be here, at the reception you host in the capital of your country and we are grateful to you for it. Kind words said in your address expressed not only on behalf of the members of the delegations present here, but the general directors of customs services of all the countries represented here. Thus, today, 153 countries think of Baku, the capital of your country.

I want to thank you for the kind wishes expressed to us. I hope that, of course, under your leadership, our session will achieve its goals.

Mr. President, I want to express my appreciation to you once more, because from the first day of our stay here in Azerbaijan, we were manifested the most kind and warm attitude. I would say that from the day of our arrival, all the issues related to us, that is, the meetings, accommodation, transport, etc. have been resolved at the highest level. We are indeed very happy to be among you in your country. At the same time during our stay here we got acquainted with your history, culture and the past, as well as with the people of Azerbaijan and studied them.

Mr. President, on behalf of everyone present here I once more express my gratitude to you. Of course, I wish the Republic of Azerbaijan development and prosperity under your presidency, together with your team. Thank you very much.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much.

Michel Danet: Mr. President, with your permission, I would like to go beyond the protocol. I want together with the chairman of the political committee, the chairman of the Customs Service of the United Arab Emirates Dr. Ubaid Sager Busitom present you gifts. It is the memory of our visit to your country.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Leonid Lozbenko (Deputy Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization, Russia): Mr. President, we are grateful to you for your personal attention to the delegations that came to attend the 44th meeting of the political committee. I would like to note that it is extremely significant that the meeting of the Political Commission first held in one of the CIS countries.

We know that the presidents of CIS countries are paying a lot of attention to the issues related to the formation of the customs services and to the importance of their role. I would like to assure you that the World Customs Organization will continue to provide all possible assistance in the establishment of the customs services in CIS countries.

Taking the opportunity and being aware of your exceptional popularity and attention in CIS countries especially, I want to ask you to place the Customs questions in the first place in the meetings with the presidents of CIS countries to assist the customs organizations.

Heydar Aliyev: I believe that every president knows it well. I would like to express once more my pleasure with the meeting with you. I think that the 44th session of the Political Commission held in Baku will be very useful for every country, in particular for Azerbaijan.

As you know, Azerbaijan as an independent country is young. Customs Organization of Azerbaijan was established after our country gained independence and has been recognized worldwide as an independent state. For many years we lived in the Soviet Union. I am well aware that the customs organization did not occupy a prominent place in the Soviet Union. Perhaps many people even did not know whether there was Customs Organization in the Soviet Union. Therefore, for our countries, that is, the countries which gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, including Azerbaijan, customs as a whole is a new area.

I want to say that we live in conditions of independence for nine years. During this nine-year period in the life of Azerbaijan there were various stages and difficulties. The process of the formation of customs bodies, training and acquisition of experience have been very difficult as well.

Customs organizations of your countries have a long history and a great experience. Each country created a Customs Organization and enjoyed it for decades and centuries. Our Customs Organization is young, as well as our country. However, I can say that over the last five or six years, Customs Organization in Azerbaijan has been formed, took its place and contributed to the implementation of foreign economic and trade relations of Azerbaijan. However, we must also confess that there are still mistakes and shortcomings in the work of our Customs Organization and it has not gained sufficient experience. That is why, we have laid very large and important task on the National Customs Committee of Azerbaijan.

Business relations established in the recent years by the National Customs Committee of Azerbaijan with the World Customs Organization and the holding of the 44th session of the Political Commission of the World Customs Organization in Azerbaijan - our distinguished guests from Russia, also said that the country is the first country in the Commonwealth of Independent States where such an event is held - indicates that the customs organization of Azerbaijan within a short time has really developed and is able to gain the necessary experience. I believe that the 44th session will be extremely useful for the development of the customs service in Azerbaijan. I think that it will be useful for all of you.

You have not been in our country. Now you will at least get acquainted with our capital. Looking through the list of people that came to participate here, I saw that some of our guests came from distant countries. For such people Azerbaijan exists only on the map. But now you can see Azerbaijan for real. We are whom you see. In any case, we are proud of our country and capital. At the same time, I can firmly say that in terms of independence, we shall be able to continue developing our country as an independent state, including our capital in all areas.

Once more I wish success to the work of your session. I wish you success in your work. I wish your country and people peace and well-being. Please convey to the leaders of your countries my greetings and best wishes. Thank you.

Translated from newspaper «Azerbaijan», December 6, 2000