From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev while receiving the delegation of the British - Azerbaijan Parliamentary group - August 11, 1999

Heydar Aliyev: Dear guests, I sincerely greet you, welcome to Azerbaijan! I am very pleased that you fuifilled your promise to visit Azerbaijan at my invitation which I did last year when I was in Great Britain, in London.

Last year, approximately in summer or may be a little earlier, and it was summer time, I payed on official visit to the Great Britain, had very significant meetings and signed a number of documents of great importance were signed. We hade very useful meetings with Mr. Prime Minister Tony Blair. I also recall with great satisfaction my meeting with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I hade a number of meetings with British Ministers too. I had several meetings in the Parliament as well. Particularly the meeting with the inter-parliamentary friendship group of Great Britain and Azerbaijan was very important. Naturally, all these promote the existing relations further. I think a lot of works have been performed since my last year visit to Great Britain. Very friendly, kind relations of the British Parliament to Azerbaijan gladdens. Because of these factors I am pleased with your visit and you can observe the current situation in Azerbaijan and we shall be able to hold negotiations. I think the meetings of today, your visit to Azerbaijan will effectively contribute to the development of the Azerbaijan-British relationship. I greet you .

George Bruce (member of the House of Commons in the British Parliament): Mr. President! Our delegation is particularly happy. First, because we are here, in your country. And secondly, we can see you are in good health and we believe that you will do a lot for Azerbaijan henceforth and will raise a great number of buildings in Baku. We had excellent meetings here so far. In general, our program is prepared very well. We are fully confident that we will not only return to British with good knowledge about Azerbaijan, as well as we will render support to Azerbaijan more than we did by now.

In my opinion, those who is acquianted with Azerbaijan will agree that a lot of changes and tremendious progress have taken place in Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the fall of prises of oil affect Azerbaijan, but despite these difficulties, you have created a very srong basis for the future development, for the advancement in all the spheres.

I have to say that your country geografically is located potentially in very unsteady area. The group of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons after this visit to Azerbaijan will prepare a comprehensive report on the future policy of the UK in the Caucasus and the Central Asia.

The Minsk Group is officially involved in the settlment of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis. We have to make sure that the principles identified by the Mosnk Group are fair for both of the parties. That is to say we must ensure the stability in the region, its economic advancement and the stability on the world. Our approach must not harm the international relations in the region. 

Heydar Aliyev: First of all, I thank you for the very precious words about Azerbaijan, about the present day of our country, about the positive changes in Azerbaijan, and about the obtaind achievements. And your words that my health is good also gladdens me. Of course, I have undergone very heavy surgical operation on my heart. Three months have passed, but as you see, I am fine. I think I will be more healthy henceforth. To fulfill your wishes and desires - as you just mentioned - to ensure the further development of Azerbaijan and to build many new building - and this word is interesting to me, I will surely achieve these and make them all come true.

We attach a special significance to the relations between Great Britain and Azerbaijan in all the spheres. Last year when I was in London Prime Minister Tony Blair and I defined that the relations between Great Britain and Azerbaijan are of strategic and partnership nature. And we carry out our works based on this formula.

I remember well, in both meetings with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Minister of Foreign Affairs Robin Cook I was told that since they attach such an importance to Azerbaijan in this region, they will significantly increase the staff of the Embassy of Great Britain in Baku. I may suppose that they are now materializing it. I had short meetings and brief talks with Mr. Tony Blair and Mr. Robin Cook on April while we were attending the 50 year jubilee of NATO in Washington. Mr. Cook, as he saw me said that we keep our words and strenghten his Embassy in Azerbaijan. This very act indicates that the relations between Great Britain and Azerbaijan have really entered new stage.

Our economic relations grow day by day and I am very pleased that this is like this. In the Contract we signed in 1994 - the "Contract of the Century" - BP company occupies very big share. Now when it merged with the US "Amoco" it is the leading power in the consortium. Last year in the residence of the Prime Minister of Great Britain we signed new contracts with BP about the very rich oil deposits and we signed other contracts were signed with "Monument Oil" and "Ramco" as well. This is an evidence of the expansion of the economic relations betwen Great Britain and Azerbaijan.

I note it with great pleasure that the contract signed with BP Statoil shas started to yield its good results. We signed this contract in 1996 and on the deposit of "Shahdeniz" in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea. The works performed there in the recent two years and the well drilled in that deposit proved that the deposit has vast possibilities, exceding our expectations, especially it demonstrated that there were huge gas resources. The consortium and its main stakeholder BP in Baku and London have stated that it is realistic to produce 500 billion cubic m od gas from this deposit. But our specialists say that the members of the consortium, particularly BP, shows restrain in this regard and are cautious when talking about that.

Now the second well is being drilled and our oilmen expect that they will produce some 700 billion cubic m of gas and perhaps more. I belive our oilmen are right. They never failed in their prognosis. Just imagine, Shahdeniz deposit turned to be a very big gas deposit, it was explored in 1954. By the end of the eighties the Azerbaijani oil men performed drilling operations there, but because of deep water they couldnt continue drilling. Even prior to the signature of the contract they were forecasting that recovery production there will be 400 billion cubic m of gas in that reserve. Therefore I think if their prediction they gave two years ago is confirmed, so their present prediction will also be true.

All these demonstrates the economic relations between Great Britain and Azerbaijan. We cooperate with the companies of Great Britain not only in oil and gas industry, but also in other fileds also we have successful cooperation.

I am pleased that you touched the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. You remember, when I was in London we had very comprehensive negotiations abou it. I know, the governement of Great Britain, its parliament always hold fair and correct position in this regard. And your satetment demonstrates once more that you support the fair settlement of this problem. And we always remain devoted to this pozition, nothing more we need.

But unfortunately we cant obtain this justice and cant get our rights. The Minsk group is functioning for alreay seven years. Last five years - after we signed the cease-fire aggreement with Armenia we work very intensive wth the Minsk Group. Of course, they have worked a lot in these years, prepared and submitted proposals. We accpeted some of their proposals. Particularly we accepted the proposals based on the principles defined and adopted in the Lisbon summite of OSCE in 1996. But Armenia didnt accept them. Some time ago it made new proposal, but we cant accept it. Therefore there are a lot yet to be done. I suppose Great Britain will keep its previous position, and at the same time will render all possible supports. The next summite of OSCE will be held in Istanbul in the November of this year. Three years passed since the Lisbon Summit. Therfore we have to exert all of our powers to get concrete results by the date of summit in Istanbul. I declare once again that we are for the peaceful, fair settlement. We demand the withdrawal of the Armenian military forces from the occupied territories. We have given our consent to granting highest self-administration status to the Nagrno-Karabakh. I think this problem can be fairly settled only based on these principles.

I suppose you have had thorough negotiations today in our parliament and in the Minisrtry of Foreign Affairs. Therefore I think what I have said today also indicates the position of Azerbaijan today. We never lose hope and now we hope - we will achieve the settlement of this conflict.

I would like to state once more that your current visit to Azerbaijan is very important. You got acquainted with the present day conditions and life in Azerbaijan. You observe how the democratic processes are going on and numerious economic reforms are being carried out. These reforms have already given good results. We are now creating market economies in Azerbaijan We consider the market economy principles as a basis for advancing the economy.

I can tell you that the economy of Azerbaijan has overcome the decline of previous years and now is growing yearly. For example, gross domestic product this year in the seven months of this year has increased for 5 per cent, including the growth of pruduction of industrial goods 2,5 or 2,6 per cent, and agricultural product approximately 3 per cent. The financial conditions in Azerbaijan is very stable. Last one year even more, we had inflation. In the far East - in Japan, in South-East Asia - in Indonesia or in our neighborhood, the Russian Federation suffered very serious processes. And of course these had a negative impact on the economy of Azerbaijan. The negative effect of these processes might be much more severe, but we managed to prevent it.

I state it once more - the stability of our economy has been ensured. The foreign investments have been directed not only to the oil industry, to other spheres too. Yesterday I visited the hotel complex of the US company "Hyat". A very big hotel, different entertainment centres for recreation and good conditions for going in different kind of sports have been created and nice buildings were raised there. All these were created by involving foreign investments.

The construction work of last year in Azerbaijan, particularly in Baku, production fields, all the works for the improvement of infrastructure belong to the privat sector and the great majority of these projects are materialised due to foreign investment. All these are the outcomes of our economic policy. And all of them are due to the social and politic stability created in Azerbaijan. The sitution in the past several years was very critical. In parallel with the Armenian-Azerbaijani war, when we were fighting in the war for the Nagorno-Karabakh, there were other groups and different troops conflicting with each other and trying to come to power. And these actions destroyed the stability totally. We managed to secure the stability. I state it once again, this is the fundamental condition for ensuring the convenience of our people, realization of reforms and development of the economy.

I am sure you will see all of them with your own eyes. I thank you once more for your visit to Azerbaijan.

Evans Haygel: Mr.President! I am very happy that we visited you today. As it is known, we have in our delegation the representatives of different parties. George Bruce is the representative of the ruling party. Others represent the parties in opposition. And I represent the conservative party, headed by John Major. I have very close relations with John Major. I know that you also have met him many times. Now William Hay is the head of this party. Both of them conveyed their sincere greetings to you. We, in general, on behalf of all conservatives convey their sincere regards to you and to the Azerbaijan people.

This is personally my third visit to Azerbaijan. I had come to Baku when the contract which you mentioned a few minutes ago was signed and there was a ceremony. Your close friend Tim Eggar was the Minister of Energy of Great Britain then. Later on I came to Baku for observing of the democratic processes in Azerbaijan. Now this is my third visit.

I admire what I have seen in my previous visits, as well as during my current visit extremely. You talked about the achievements of Azerbaijan in the economical field. These are really fascinating indicators. But it is not the end. Great changes in the sphere of protection of human rights have also take place in Azerbaijan. Mr. President, I congratulate you on these achievements. I congratulate all the Azerbaijan people on this accomplishments.

Probably you catched my dialect, I am from Wells. As it is well known, Wells used to be the large energy center. First it were coal deposits explored there. I think Baku and Wells have some similarity in this regard. It is known that Azerbaijan has very rich deposits of energy bearers. I hope Azerbaijan will become one of the energy centers in the next century.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much for your kind words. I remember with pleasure my meetings and conversations with Mr. John Major. The Conservative Party and Mr. John Major founded the relations between Azerbaijan and Great Britain in February 1994, and it was only a few months that I was elected as president of Azerbaijan. I officially visited your country. Then we signed the first expensive contracts between Great Britain and Azerbaijan. Just then the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Great Britain, and the Embassy of Great Britain in Azerbaijan were opened and our relations began to gather momentum.

Later I met Mr. Major in London and also in the gatherings of international organizations. I repeat that I remember well our cooperation with that government and appreciate it highly.

There are a lot of good things in Great Britain and one of them is that in your country there are only two parties - conservative and labour parties.

Evans Haycel: We also would like to think so.

Heydar Aliyev: Any way, in the 20th century sometimes the conservative party, and sometime the labour party came to power. An I think there is a sort of aggreement between these parties. For some period labourists come to power, then conservatives, and thus they replace each other in the power. That is true that the conservatives had been in power longer. At any case, I think so. Let remember the history. I wonder at one thing. In the World War II the conservaitives were in power in Great Britain. Great Winston Churchill was at the head of that party. And then in the World War second the USA, Great Britain and the Soviet Union allied against the Hitlerite Germany. The allies won the war over fascist Germany. And as soon as the war finished, in Great Britain they held elections. Despite the hard and backbreaking work of the conservatives during the war, the labourists won an elections. I remeber it well. We were young. Even we were surprised at that Winston Churchiil waged the war, but the Potsdam Conference was attended not by Churchill, but by Ettly. Great Britain is a strange country, but is a good country. Therefore it doesnt matter whatever party it is whether conservative or labourists. Because we never interfere in the internal affairs of any country. Then the conservatives were in power and we had successfull cooperation. Now the labourists are in power and we continue our cooperation successfully.

I think one of the great achievements of your country is that, the parties replace each other in power, but your foreign policy doesnt change. I wish successes to the labourists in power, and the conservatives in opposition.

Convey my greetings to Mr. John Major and to the new leader of your party. Of course, give my regards also to Mr. Tony Blair and to Mr. Robin Cook. Recently there was information that the minister of defence of Great Britain became the secretary General of NATO. Last year when I was in London we hada very nice meeting with him. We had successful negotiations. I have sent a congratulation to him. I wish successes to Mr. Robertson in his new post Secretary General of NATO.
Thank you.
"Azadlig" newspaper, 12 August 1999