Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland - April 24, 1996

Mr. Prime Minister Brundtland,

I thank you for the warm welcome and I want to say that I am pleased to remember the meetings I held with you previously. I am grateful to you for inviting me to visit Norway and declare that I am glad to visit the friendly country.

We set the ground for the expansion of cooperation between Norway and Azerbaijan in all the spheres of the economy. With a great pleasure I want to emphasize the participation of «Statoil» company in the «Contract of the Century» along with other reputable western oil companies involved in developments in Azerbaijan and note that in our country there are all conditions for the broad activities of other companies.

Speaking about the work done for the peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, I want to note that following the decision of the heads of governments of the members of OSCE, with the active participation of Brundtland at the Budapest Summit within the framework of the Minsk Group there emerged great opportunities for holding negotiations and direct dialogues mediated by the major countries. In this issue, we cherish great hopes in the Minsk Group.

On April 21, I had a meeting with the President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan in Luxembourg. A joint statement adopted at the meeting is an important step in peaceful solution of the conflict. I declare it once more that Azerbaijan is a peaceful country and strives to solve the conflict only by peaceful means. Though our country suffered enormous material and moral damages, over a 20 percent of the territory of our country is under occupation and over a million of our citizens live as refugees in difficult conditions, still we offer a peace to Armenia.

I claim that our country is ready to provide an autonomy for about one hundred thousand Armenians in the Mountainous Garabagh within Azerbaijan according the world practice, at the same time, to ensure the security of the Armenians living in the Mountainous Garabagh who are the Azerbaijani citizens. The main cause of that we cannot achieve peace in these negotiations is the unconstructive position of Armenia, use of violence on its part, as well as support given to it by several countries. Despite these obstacles we intend to continue the peace negotiations.

I would like to emphasize the fact that Norway was one of the first European countries to recognize the independence of Azerbaijan and «Statoil» became one of the first foreign companies to work in our country. I think that our cooperation with Norway, in particular, with «Statoil» company will be lasting. I would like to express the hope that XXI century will be a century of close relations between Norway and Azerbaijan. The relations we created are built on a strong foundation therefore, it is necessary for our countries to cooperate with all international organizations closer.

I invite distinguished Prime Minister Brundtland to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan.