From the talk of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev with the delegation of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly headed by the President of this organization Mr. Helle Degn - Presidential Palace, 1 June, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: President, distinguished guests! You are welcome to Azerbaijan! I heartily greet you.

Highly esteemed Mr. President! I express my special gratitude to You for accepting my invitation and coming to Azerbaijan. I remember our meeting in Istanbul with great satisfaction. We held a fruitful talk with You then. It was a very interesting and warm talk. To tell the truth, perhaps the place for negotiations were not so favourable, however, our talk was so warm that it did not disturb us.

I know that You have been here since yesterday and held many meetings. Therefore, I invited you here, because we want to be a member of OSCE, we want the organizations come to our country as far as possible and get acquainted with our country and its people. This is certainly the desire of each country and each nation, since any country, each nation wants to be better known in the world.

However we need it more than others. First, because an unjust opinion has been formed about Azerbaijan, a wrong imagination has shaped in different countries, in particular in the West, in Europe, in connection with the known to You Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Secondly, because Azerbaijan is situated in the European continent and we consider ourselves Europeans. Nevertheless, unfortunately, some in Europe think that Azerbaijan is not a European country and the mentality of the Azerbaijanis is not at the European level. Of course, they are mistaken. However such views have their impact, too.

I suppose that You saw Azerbaijan yourself yesterday and today. To say the truth, it is not enough. I would be pleased if you stay here a little longer. However, perhaps, it is quite enough for the fist time. I am very pleased to meet you. Please, I am listening to You.

Helle Degn: Mr. President, first of all I express my deep gratitude to You, for welcoming me in Your country, and for so many beautiful words about me. I am very pleased with my visit to Azerbaijan.

You mentioned quite correctly the purpose and the reasons for my visit here. I have come to Azerbaijan to get acquainted with these issues. We, as members of the club uniting our countries need Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan also needs to be a member to this club.

From this point of view, I think that the extremely important decisions were adopted within the frames of the Istanbul Summit. One of the most important decisions is the declaration of devotion to the settlement of the frozen conflicts in the OSCE member-states. Certainly, it cannot be achieved within a night it needs time, but we should solve these objectives.

Concluding this century and entering a new millennium, we have obtained new opportunities. A page of the history of your country should be turned over, and at the same time, a page of the European history should be turned over, too. Not only because we can solve our problems by acting together, but also because we can cope with arising problems jointly..

Globalization of markets, mass media and currencies- these are the issues facing all of us. We should support each other to cope with the objectives and hardships connected with globalization. I am pleased to see Azerbaijan among the countries willing to come closer to Europe and I welcome it. I think that in the coming century we must establish closer links in the commercial and cultural spheres, in the sphere of education and a number of other spheres, and turn over the pages of our historical books together.

Therefore, I feel satisfaction for visiting your country, and I am pleased to offer my help on behalf of OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly within the powers of our structures. I hope that your country will accept this help and achieve the opening of the OSCE mission here as soon as possible

You have prepared a very interesting and wonderful program for my stay in you country. I will hence continue my cooperation with the Azerbaijani parliament. I will also say that the members of the Azerbaijani parliament directly participate in the activity of OSCE. The Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE is a unique TransAtlantic organization where the representatives of the number of states, elected by people, participate. I consider that we need the Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE to ensure the European security. This organization can play a very important role in the future of Europe. I express my gratitude once more for receiving me here.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank You. First of all, I want to emphasize that, as a young independent state, we are very pleased to be a member of OSCE.After gaining independence, we signed the Helsinki Act and become a member of OSCE, took the obligation to fulfil the principals of OSCE on one hand. On the other hand, being a member of OSCE we pursue the goal to use the potentials of OSCE for ensuring security, peace and order in our country.

The implementation of the principles and norms of OSCE in our country depends on us. However, in connection with the situation which Azerbaijan is facing, we naturally need the help of OSCE to achieve peace, stability and security in our country, and not only in our country, but also in the Caucasus and in the Southern Caucasusas a whole.

You have said that the document adopted in Istanbul - the charter, is aimed at the settlement of all frozen conflicts. You are absolutely right, I have also signed this charter. But we want all this not to remain as a document, on a paper, but to be implemented into life.

I personally participated at the Budapest Summit, as well as Lisbon Summit of OSCE. Extremely important decisions were adopted there. At the both summits, in Budapest and in Lisbon, very serious decisions were passed for the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. However they have not been implemented up to now. It causes a feeling of regret. If we could solve these issues ourselves, we would have not disturbed OSCE.

Nevertheless, you know well, in world experience such conflicts are settled with the assistance or by means of international organizations. If the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was within our own powers, we would have done it long ago. Along with it, in 1992 OSCE established the Minsk Group for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. After the Lisbon Summit Russia, the United States of America and France are the cochairs of the Minsk Group. However, unfortunately, the Minsk Group and its co-chairs cannot achieve the solution of his issue until now.

You know well that 20 per cent of the Azerbaijani territories are occupied as a result of the aggression by the Armenian armed forces. More than a million Azerbaijanis, who have been deprived of their homes derived forcibly from the occupied territories,and an ethnic cleansing was committed. The majority of these people live in tents, in extremely critical conditions.

I got acquainted with Your program, I know that you have to visit one of the refugee camps. I do not know whether did it or not. Have You? I appreciate You. You have seen everything yourself.

But if You had an opportunity to be with me in the refugee camps for two hours, if we had met the refugees together, perhaps, You would come back with a heavy heart.

They have settled in various buildings in Baku and its suburbs. In fact, You have seen in what hard conditions they live, however, their majority of them lives in tents in other places of Azerbaijan. It is possible to live in the tent for a year or two. But they have been living in tents for 7-8 years.

Therefore, as OSCE members, we want and wait from it the solution of this issue. I repeat once again, we are devoted to the principles of the Helsinki Act of OSCE, we implement them. Perhaps, there are shortcomings in our work. But as You say, OSCE is charged to settle these conflicts,however,the OSCE does not fulfil its commitments.

Azerbaijan, as You have said, strives to be a full member of the European club. You also want it. But we need to get rid of troubles first.

Helle Degn: Thank You very much, Mr. President. I listened to you with satisfaction all about the hardships of your country. I must mention that You attach great significance to the fact that you are an OSCE member and to the links with this organization.

You are quite right that the OSCE is an uncommon organization, and it is possible to achieve the solution of your problem by making use of its opportunities. I only want to repeat that OSCE and its structures, as well as the governments of OSCE member-states are very interested in the settlement of the conflict which is a part of your history. I wish it cordially.

I want to assure You that after my return home, I shall call on the OSCE officials to intensify their efforts for the immediate achievement of the peaceful settlement of this conflict, and I shall put pressure upon them.

The number of main participants, I mean the countries that can play an active role in the settlement to this conflict and long-term peace in the region, were busy with elections in their countries, and were not able to focus attention on this problem. I am far from giving it as a reason for the inactivity of OSCE. I only want to say that the presidential elections in a number of countries, for example in Russia, did not allow them to take a more active part in this issue. I hope that Russia, as a co-chair the Minsk Group will join more actively the settlement of this issue.

Having returned home I shall remind the Minsk Group and the officials of OSCE once again that we should assist to the peaceful settlement of the conflict and improvement of the life conditions of the refugees whom I met today in Baku. The fact that people are driven out from their homes is always a tragedy.

Women, men and children, whom I met today, live in awful conditions. It does not matter whether they live in Baku or outside it, in the regions. The tragedy is that these people live in conditions of uncertainty, they do not know how to build their future. I cannot promise these refuges what is beyond my powers. However I promise them one thing: having returned from here I will make more active efforts to settle their problem, to settle the conflict.

I consider it is necessary to make use of the opportunities of OSCE more efficiently. I will leave my doors open, as well as try to make use of the forthcoming meeting of the parliamentarians

in Bucharest on July 6-10, representing the parliaments of 54member-states of OSCE. We have invited to this meeting the speaker of your parliament, as well as the speakers of Georgia and Armenia. I will try to leave my doors open for them, to arrange their meetings and achieve the establishment of contacts among them, to do so that we, as members of the parliament, could also contribute to the settlement of the conflict.

The Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE and all the parliaments as a whole can play a more effective role in the settlement of this conflict, to help the governments and even you, presidents, with their work. I think that the members of the parliament, who do not occupies any posts in the government, but were elected directly by people, having met each other, can bring the voice of their peoples to the attention of their colleagues. Presidents, members of governments and ministers always feel need the assistance of an elective body and the people.

Mr. President, I think You once more. As I have already said, I would share great pleasure my thoughts with you regarding the objectives of OSCE existing difficulties, elimination of problems through joint efforts and my impressions from the meetings held.

Heydar Aliyev: I thank you. Your words allow hoping that henceforth the Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE will also intensify its efforts for the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. I express my gratitude along with these hopes.

The "Azerbaijan" newspaper, 2 June, 2000