President of the Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev receives ambassador of the USA in Azerbaijan ‎Stanley Escudero - Presidential Palace, November 8, 1999‎

The Azerbaijani President warmly welcomed the ambassador and asked a question about his health and work.

Stanley Escudero: Mr. President I am very well. What about you? You also look very well.

Heydar Aliyev: It's because I work much.

Stanley Escudero: I think that you fell well when you work.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, it's true. I also feel that. That's why I worked hard yesterday which was Sunday.

Stanley Escudero: It's true, I learned it only yesterday. Because they contacted with me, and I learned that you discussed some issues here.

In reality, I am occupied with some other matters. Mr. President, I think that we should appoint one day to comprehensives.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes you are right, we should take such step.

Stanley Escudero: Mr. President, now all the people wait for their term to congratulate you. Because as a result of your policy four big projects are waiting to be sign in Istanbul, we think this the success both of your country and America. Undoubtedly, the most urgent of them is the pipeline. I have information that it's expected to sign joint agreement on the Trancaspian gas pipeline in Istanbul. Doubtless, this is one of the projects due to your initiatives and we hope that this will finish with success.

Mr. President I want to declare that America highly estimates your initiatives to export Caspian oil into the world market.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. In reality, the Baku- Ceyhan oil pipeline can be considered one of the directions of my activity. The last five years we had some difficulties. You know, until recently this issue wasn't solved wholly. It's natural that the principal position of the USA helped us in this issue. We were mainly responsible for it and we completed our task. The contract is being developed. Our representatives work in Istanbul now.

During the presentation ceremony of the International Peace award in Ankara on the first of November, all the state and government officials were participating there. Then I clearly said that the Baku- Ceyhan issue has been solved and we’ll sign it in Istanbul.

You know that, our opinion on the Transcaspian gas pipeline was also positive and I made a statement on this issue in Ankara. I discussed this problem with the former USA State secretary George Shultz in detail. I hope that there will be singed a frame treaty or a statement. But there are some details that we discussed during Mr. George Shultz is official visit to Azerbaijan, and here we should take into account the future gas export opportunities of Azerbaijan in the Transcaspian gas pipeline.

Stanley Escudero: You are absolutely right.

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Shultz expressed his opinion on this issue, too, and we expected it to be like this. Under this term we shall sign the declaration. For that there will be significant occasions in Istanbul. This is a historical event, and we should do much after this. All these contracts must be executed. We already have experience over these issues. And we can settle these issues with foreign companies properly. In any case, I am glad that our five -year activities finally ended and yield good results.

Stanley Escudero: Mr. President, undoubtedly I can imagine how glad you were to see the outcomes and completion of the project, that is the result of your intensive efforts. Mr. President I want to say you that the businessmen representing the commerce circles of Alaska had a good journey to your country. Undoubtedly, people from Trade department of the USA also have joined the representatives of Alaska in Azerbaijan. During the three day visit they had a lot of meetings with the state and government officials, State Oil Company, International Operation Company, organizations representing American business circles. As a result of these conversations they felt sure that Azerbaijan has created favorable atmosphere for the investment of capital. The companies observed the perspectives of some projects for investment.

I informed you on this occasion before. This delegation has sent an official invitation for you visit Alaska. Chairman of the Foreign Commission Mrs. Barnes has signed the invitation on behalf of the legislative body of Alaska and they ask you to visit there. I met with Mr. Barnes when was in Alaska. During the conversation she asked me to deliver their official invitation to you. At the same time she asked that your son Ilham Aliyev accompany you. The visit can be paid at a convenient for you time, says the invitation.

(The USA diplomat presented he the invitation to Heydar Aliyev)

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I appreciate this invitation highly. Alaska State is a legendary land. It's interesting to visit there. But to establish bilateral business corporations is above all for us. I absolutely shall use this invitation and realize it at a proper time.

Stanley Escudero: Very well. I'll convey this information to her today. Mr. President there is some other problems that I want to share with you. If you do not object I'd like to continue our conversation in private..

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, continue. But I would like to note one problem. You and then four congressmen appealed to me on the violation of the rights various religious sectors. I discussed this issue thoroughly. Even I assembled Security Council and gave my proper instructions. I decisively warned administrative bodies that, they don't mistake.

I declare today that there are all types of freedom in Azerbaijan. We are ensuring human freedoms, religious, conscience liberty and will ensure them in the future as well.

Therefore I declare today the laws and other human rights mustn't be violated. That is, liberty of conscience must be guaranteed. Liberty of the conscience, religion mustn't be limited. I declared these ideas and our corresponding bodies will act on the principles of these ideas. If necessary we'll adopt some decisions. In any case these incidents wouldn't happen more, you may be sure. I ask you to inform the congressmen on what we have done and on our conversation.

Stanley Escudero: Mr. President, I shall do it at once. Let me say that this is a very important step taken by your country. This is a convincing act both for us, our country and you. Because, we were anxious about the processes ongoing in Azerbaijan.

But we were absolutely sure that all these would be solved after your interference and we shall witness it.

Let me specify more another thing connected with this issue. In the past there was a court verdict on the deportation of four foreigners from the country because of such incidents. What will be the fate of those foreigners, is it possible to reexamine this verdict?

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, of course.

Translated from the newspaper ''Azerbaijan '', on November 9, 1999