From the conversation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the deputy foreign minister of Iran on European and American issues and special envoy on the Caspian Sea - November 22, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Welcome to Azerbaijan. We must contact frequently in order to expand our relations.

Mr. Qazai is the ambassador of Iran in Azerbaijan. It`s pretty that I have not met him yet. Mr. Bikdee was your ambassador in Azerbaijan, I am glad that he has again come to our country. Surely, it`s your first visit to Azerbaijan. I am very glad. I am listening to you.

Ali Aheni: First of all, I thank you for meeting us. I am very glad to start my visit and the regional consultation from your country. Yesterday I came to Naxchivan, it`s your motherland. My meetings in Naxchivan, as well as my meeting with the chairman of the Parliament impressed me. I was saddened to see our Naxchivanian friends in darkness for their debts of electric power. I said to Vasib Talibov that the situation grieved me very much and I am ready to help in finding the ways for repaying the debt and restore the supply of electric power. I hope that soon by your interfere we shall find a solution to the problem.

Today at the meeting with the officials of Azerbaijan we touched upon very profitable and constructive issues. We looked for various spheres of the cooperation. It`s good that both sides emphasized their will to provide the mutual interests, expand the relations.

We held fruitful negotiations on the issues of regional security and others, the position of both countries was remarkable. The main goal of my visit is to hold consultations with our Azerbaijani colleagues on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. I started the initial consultations. It`s well that our position coincide with that of Azerbaijan. Both sides emphasize that they should find common admissible formulas. We have to find a formula acceptable for all the five Caspian countries. Tomorrow I will continue my consultations with my colleagues.

Then I shall visit other Caspian countries and continue my consultations. The main goal of my visit is to arrange the meetings of the foreign ministers of the pre-Caspian countries. I hope that we shall achieve an acceptable formula by the mutual agreement of five countries. Mr. President, it`s natural that your knowledge and experience will assist us in this sphere.

I thank you for the care.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. This problems interest us, too. This problem interests both of us,

Both of the countries. That`s why I consider your visit very important. I think that your talks and meetings very necessary. Both the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs informed me about your meetings. They informed me about the discussed issues. We should try to find the solution of these problems. You touched the problem of electric power in Naxchivan. You said that they were deprived of electric power, the city is in darkness. I am glad that it worries you. But it worries us more. After my meeting with the Iranian officials in Tehran when I worked in Naxchivan in 1992 your government decided supply Naxchivan with electricity. Within a short time they completed the wiring. We celebrated it as a friendship holiday. Then there was no talk about debts. Then Iran intended to assist Naxchivan and take it out darkness. But now you want leave them in dark and it grieves me.

We have such a proverb in Azerbaijan, which literally says: one who lends money wishes good health to the debtor all the time. We are not going to leave our country, you may not worry about the debt. Such situations often happen. You may cite my life in Naxchivan as an example. Our neighbors were used to bring us everything when we needed it, or on the contrary. It`s true we were poor, but lived friendly. Friendship, kindness are more important. Because of this I do not want to complicate this problem. You are wrong when you think that we have money but do not pay our debt. We shall pay this debt. But we need some time. It`s not fair to lighten the city and then leave it in darkness.

You know that it is possible to endure difficulties. There was no in Naxchivan when I came there. There are films in Azerbaijan, television programs reflecting this situation. I worked in the light of the oil lamp. We warmed the house by wood stove made of thin iron. I do not know if there are such stoves in Iran? Then I was the head of Naxchivan. We had no other chance. Everybody was enduring. We are very patient. Because of this we speak. If agree you supply us with electric power or if you do not, nobody will not die in Naxchivan. But it`s against your Islamic morals. I do not want speak about this issue. Because the prime minister have already talked with you.

We always held negotiations with you on the status of Caspian Sea and are ready to continue it. In the past the deputy ministers met in Tehran. Once such a meeting was appointed, but did not produce any reason. We are ready for it. You have talked to Xalafov and I know it. You have met the minister of foreign affairs and the prime minister. Continue the negotiations. I think that we shall find its solution. Now people fly to space and conquers the universe. There is not a question impossible to solve.

We do not want Iran suffer from this. We also want it. There is such a saying in Azerbaijan that burn no swelling, nor kebab. Do not you use this saying? When making kebab, let neither the meat, nor the stick burn

Ali Aheni: Yes, you are right.

Heydar Aliyev: We have to continue our work on this principle.

Your opinion on the security problems is also very interesting. Naturally it is more complicated. But we are ready for these talks, too. I hope that as a result of these negotiations we can receive achievements here. That`s why I say once more that your visit to Azerbaijan is very important. You said that you would visit other pre-Caspian countries. Get acquainted with the climate of these countries. What is the climate of Russia, it`s warm or cold. How is the climate of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan? Then we can come Tehran any time.

Ali Aheni: Mr. President, thank you for information. I thank you. We think that these consultations will assist the solution of the problems. Iran and Azerbaijan are the two important countries of the region. They have no other way than peace and understanding. There are great potentials for cooperation. We must do a lot. Naturally for its materialization of course the will of our countries will assist us in this work. The Caspian always was a region of peace and friendship and we shall try to preserve it thus. The development of the natural resources of the region demands the consent of the pre-Caspian countries. We must use the resources correctly by ensuring the interests of the countries.

I said about Naxchivan that we are ready to assist and do not want our sister and brothers duffer from difficulties, live in darkness. Mr. President, we hope that you also will assist that the solution of this problem. The company which supplies Naxchivan with electric power has a critical financial problem. In reality, this company has waited two years, and many debts have been accumulated.

We understand your situation and want be sure that you will repay the debts by and by within a certain time. We are interested in the expansion of relations of the two nations, simplification of their mutual contacts. Because the two nations were closely connected with each other by historical, cultural and religious ties. We consider the problem of the Azerbaijani nation our own. We wish happiness and prosperity to your nation.

Distinguished President, I hope that by the efforts of Mr. Hatemi and you there will be established good opportunities for the development of our relations.

Mr. President, I thank you once more for the reception and care.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. You met the prime minister and had talks connected with the debts, There are some versions. In any case it is necessary to consider them.

I want to declare that the person of Naxchivan is very satisfied with your government. Because of this and the attitude of the people of Naxchivan to Iran and the visit of the Iranians to Azerbaijan has been simplified. There are some things which evoke gratitude. People do not believe that Iran will cut the electric power. They consider it a sabotage. The Iranian government must behave like this.

That`s why, I hope that your relations with Naxchivan will continue and never to have any obstacle and difficulties on the road of these relations.

I have talked to you over other issues. I am satisfied with this meeting. Please, convey my best regards and respect to Mr. Kharrazi, especially to President Mr. Hatemi. Thank you.