Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the official reception on the national holiday of the Republic of Ukraine - August 24, 1999

Distinguished ambassador!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I congratulate you on the Day of Independence of Ukraine and wish the Ukrainian people peace and progress.

During eight years of independence Ukraine has achieved big successes. The concrete facts from the speech of the Ukrainian ambassador prove them. We appreciate these successes. Ukraine is one of the largest countries in the world, has a big economic potential and holds an important geostrategic position.

Ukraine and Azerbaijan have very friendly relations. We are glad that Ukraine makes a breakthrough, which eventually strengthens its independence and international reputation. It is also a good example for other newly independent countries.

I have no doubt that the difficulties facing the democratization in Ukraine can be removed. Ukraine has big potential. The political and economic reforms conducted in Ukraine generate this potential and will ensure the successful development of economy and raise the welfare of population.

The friendship between our nations has a long history. The years of independence hold a special significance in this history. During these years our countries have become closer, felt the necessity of cooperation and mutual support.

The documents signed during the visit of the Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to Azerbaijan and my visit to Ukraine, founded a suitable ground for the cooperation between our countries. However, we have more potential, which should be used for further development of our cooperation.

We actively cooperate with Ukraine within international organizations. Our positions on many international issues are similar. This is a ground for our successful cooperation within the organizations, such as the UN, OSCE, CIS, GUUAM. I think that GUUAM is of great importance for its member-countries.

The self-confidence of Ukraine is in its power and independence. Its confidence in removing dependence from other countries attracts our attention. Azerbaijan holds the same position as well. This factor unites us and motivates our multisided cooperation.

Ukraine has a huge economic potential, which should be used in trade, exchange of goods and other relations between our countries. Ukraine is interested in the oil and gas resources of Azerbaijan. Last April we inaugurated the Baku-Supsa pipeline. The Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma also took part at the inauguration ceremony and requested one of the tankers charged with oil transported via that pipeline to be shipped to Ukraine.

We also inaugurated the ferry passage connecting Supsa, Poti and Ilichevsk. There are some ideas on the transportation of our oil productions through this passage or via the construction of a new pipeline. These proposals show that Ukraine is very interested in developing the economic cooperation with Azerbaijan. We support this cooperation.

As it was said here, Ukraine faced lack of oil productions during the harvest season and asked Azerbaijan for help. I am glad that we assisted Ukraine to have a rich harvest this year. Mr. Kuchma addressed me personally. It was not so easy for us to help, but we did it. Thus, I am pleased that the assistance of Azerbaijan to Ukraine during its hard time is appreciated both at a state level and in public. This indicates our sincere relations, mutual assistance and developing friendship.

The pre-election campaign on the presidential elections is under way in Ukraine. We are observing this process. We want the oncoming election to be held democratically and legally. At the same, every person or every country has favorite candidates. Mr. Leonid Kuchma has contributed a lot to the development of the relations between Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Our personal friendship plays a significant role in the relations between our countries. Therefore, I want Mr. Luchma to be re-elected President of Ukraine.

I appreciate his contributions to the development of the relations and strategic partnership between Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Thus, he was awarded with the "Istiglal" order, the highest order in Azerbaijan, by my decree. We want to strengthen and develop our friendship. I hope that the Ukrainian people will have a fair choice and Ukraine will develop further.

I congratulate you on this holiday.

The newspaper "Azerbaycan", August 25, 1999