From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with representatives of the World Bank – March 4, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished Mrs. O`Connor!

Distinguished Tevfik Yaprak!

I cordially welcome the representatives of the World Bank.

World Bank Country Director for Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia Mrs. Judy O`Connor: Thank you, Mr. President. I thank you on my own behalf, also on behalf of my colleague Tevfik Yaprak and all my colleagues at the World Bank. This is my first visit to Azerbaijan. We work with Azerbaijan with great pleasure.

Heydar Aliyev: We are also satisfied with our cooperation with the World Bank, considering it very important. We consider it very significant to reach achievements in our economy with recommendations and aid of the World Bank. You have serious programs. Sometimes it is hard to carry them out, but we try to implement all. Naturally, we do not carry them out, but understand their necessity for developing our economy.

Our prime minister reported me that you have thoroughly discussed all issues. I guess you have something to tell.

Judy O`Connor: Mr. President. I don’t have much to say. I would like to touch three issues. First of all, I want to say we adore you. We admire your efforts on peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

As you are aware, - fortunately or not, - the World Bank has such an experience: we have taken part in reconstruction of post-war situation in Eastern and Southern Europe. We are ready to cooperate and make our efforts here when necessary.

The second issue. I guess it is good news. I want to speak about potential. As you know, oil prices have increased in world market. As expected, it will let Azerbaijan gain more oil profits. Azerbaijan can earn more than expected. We are ready to cooperate with your government in order to determine priorities to spend oil profits for in future.

Mr. President, as for the third issue, the World Bank is satisfied with reforms carried out in your country. I think they are all very important reforms for Azerbaijan. We are glad that conducting reforms continues smoothly, and we can help Azerbaijan only technically and financially.

There is only one matter within the framework of this program – the reforms are conducted slower than we hope. A year ago you confirmed that reforms in governmental structures would be carried out. We appealed to you with proper recommendations in this field. Some progress was made in the Cabinet of Ministers, auditing and cost control. Although there is progress in cost control, the reforms in other spheres are not so fast as we wish. We have discussed these matters with our colleagues and prime minister. In our opinion, main thing is that changes are being made. We want to ask you to keep your support further.

Of course, we would like to assist Azerbaijan more in future, more than in the past. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. As for Nagorno-Karabakh, yes, we strive to solve the conflict peacefully. Evidentally, some efforts have been made in this regard recently and naturally, enormous reconstruction will be carried out there in future.

Recently I was in Washington D.C. I was told in State Department that a big delegation of the World Bank, the UN High Commission for Refugees and other financial centers will visit the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and check on the situation there. Because it is your job to estimate what should be done for reconstruction of those areas and how long it would take. Nearly one million people expelled from the occupied territories must return their homes. Thus, you should effectively use your rich experience and assist us in this regard.

Your opinion on conducting economic reforms satisfies me. We`ll try to realize them more rapidly. I agree with you that there are delays in reforms of governmental bodies. Our prime minister told me you have thoroughly discussed it. Not only will I support them, but also I will take serious measures for implementing them within a short time.

Naturally, we always need your assistance. We will closely cooperate further in this sphere. I thank the World Bank once again for its attention, care and assistance.