From the talk of President of the Azerbaijani Republic Heydar Aliyev with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Azerbaijan, Andrew Tucker during the reception of his credentials - 6 December, 2000

Andrew Tucker:  Your Excellency, first of all allow me to convey You and the Azerbaijani people my condolence in connection with the earthquake on November 25 in Baku and Sumgait.

Mr. President, it is a big honour for me to be appointed to Azerbaijan as n ambassador .

Azerbaijan is an important country for Great Britain. More that 100 British companies work in Azerbaijan and they want to contribute to the development and prosperity of Azerbaijan. I also intend to assist this process. I am confident that in the period of my work here I shall be satisfied with the implementation of this objective.

Allow me to hand You the letter on the recall of the previous ambassador and on my appointment as the ambassador to Azerbaijan.

Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished Mr. Ambassador, above all, I express my gratitude for the condolence in connection with the earthquake in Baku and its suburbs.

I congratulate You on Your appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Azerbaijan and wish You successes in this work.

You have quite correctly mentioned that very broad links have been established between Great Britain and Azerbaijan. These links cover all the spheres. We highly appreciate our links with Great Britain and consider them extremely important. As a result of it, the British companies do the biggest work in Azerbaijan in the oil sphere. However, not only in this sphere, as You have mentioned, more than 100 companies of your country function in Azerbaijan.

Naturally, had there not been necessary conditions in Azerbaijan for that, more than 100 British companies would not have come to Azerbaijan and worked here. It is undoubtedly the result of the state independence of Azerbaijan and is connected with strengthening and development of our state independence. In particular, it is connected with the socio-political stability in Azerbaijan with creation of necessary for the inflow of foreign investment to Azerbaijan.

We are satisfied with the present level of our economic contacts. However, a lot work can still be done in this area in future. Our country is interested in that, and I think that Great Britain is also much interested in it. And therefore, there are great perspectives for the expansion of our contacts in all the spheres - in political, economic and others. I think that You, as the ambassador of your country, will assist the development of these links in Azerbaijan. You may be confident that all necessary conditions and opportunities will be created in Azerbaijan to provide economic interests of Great Britain, as well as for Your fruitful work here as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

I congratulate You once more. I wish You success in Your work in Azerbaijan.

Andrew Tucker: Mr. President, I am learning the Azerbaijani language, but I speak very badly yet.

Heydar Aliyev: Did You know Azeri before coming here or not?

Andrew Tucker: I studied Azerbaijani in London.

Heydar Aliyev: It is wonderful. I appreciate it very highly. Since you work in the country as the ambassador, it is necessary to learn its people, its language, culture, history, national and cultural traditions and the mentality of the people. Unfortunately, sometimes the western officials, ambassadors or people of other positions, maintaining contacts with different countries, including Azerbaijan, compare them with their own countries. They look from this position. And it is detrimental. Because it provides an opportunity neither for an ambassador nor for a country to reflect the real and objective state of affairs where an ambassador works.

There are no two similar nations in the world. Let's take your country. Compare the south and the north. Or take Great Britain and Ireland. Or Wales, Edinburgh. You will see very great differences.

For example, when I was in your country, I visited London and then Edinburgh. The residents of Edinburgh believe that they are quite different people, they differ from the English. But these words concern not only the national discrepancies. They concern all the areas.

England is one of the most ancient European countries, which in due time, having occupied a large part of the world, turned it into its colony. Different peoples live in the East, in the eastern part of Europe, and different languages and cultures exist there. Azerbaijan too possesses original culture and traditions. It is necessary to know all this and always take them into consideration.

Therefore, I am very pleased that You have started to learn the Azerbaijani language. I wish You success in your work. Nevertheless, it is necessary to know not only the language, but also the history, it is necessary to know the customs, traditions and national-spiritual values. It is more important than language. I think if You have started working so vigorously, You will be able to achieve all this.

Andrew Tucker: Thank You very much, Mr. President. While studying the culture and originality of Azerbaijan, I have learned that the Azerbaijanis have always been proud of their culture, their traditions. It comes from the ancient times, from the period of fire-worship and from the period of Babek.

Heydar Aliyev: You know the history.

Andrew Tucker: Connected with my previous position, the positions which I occupied in the period of the former Soviet Union, I am well aware of the newest history of Azerbaijan as well.

I have already understood, realized that Azerbaijan has taken the way of strengthening and reinforcing its independence, freedom, and You follow this way with confidence. I can nowise be mistaken in that.

I hope that next month, the information about the affiliation of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe will prove true, after which, we - Great Britain on the western coasts of Europe, and Azerbaijan on its eastern coasts, will share common values and make joint efforts for the sake of common objectives.

Heydar Aliyev: With the assistance of your country.

Andrew Tucker: During the meeting with your ministers, I told them that although Great Britain has been a member of the Council of Europe for already 50 years, we still insert amendments into our legislation, change our laws and bring them in line with the standarda of the Council of Europe. Thus, we shall be learning together.

Heydar Aliyev: No, of course, you have advanced more. However we also want to join the Council of Europe. It is our free will. If we had not wanted, we would have not joined. No one makes us join the Council of Europe. Some people in different countries, including the European countries, and supporting them definite circles in Azerbaijan, in particular, the opposition consider that we are just dying of want to join the Council of Europe.

We have been living independently for nine years and we did not have such a great need for the Council of Europe. Our greatest need was to have European countries, including the Council of Europe, render us assistance in the prevention of the Armenian aggression. And we did not get that assistance. Therefore, to join or not to join the Council of Europe is not a problem for us, for the state. We want to be affiliated, because, as You have mentioned, you have been a member of the Council of Europe for 50 years and still continue to bring your laws in line with the standard of the Council of Europe. And we also want it. However those are mistaken who want to obstacle our road in this issue. Love must be mutual. I like you and you like me. If you do not like me, I will not like you either. It is something common. It concerns people and nations, as well as countries.

The majority of the world countries are not members of the Council of Europe. 199 countries are represented now in the United Nations Organization, while 41 are in the Council of Europe. If we subtract 41 from 199, will not the rest be able to live? It does not concern you though the representatives of your parliament in the Council of Europe sometimes tried to hamper us. I, as the head of state, openly state my opinion here. Along with it, I hope that we shall join the Council of Europe, and will cooperate with you more closely.

Andrew Tucker: Mr. President, love is interconnected with respect too.

Heydar Aliyev: Of course, if there is no respect, there will be no love.

Andrew Tucker: Yes, and therefore, we should treat each other with respect. I have always adhered to the opinion that the Council of Europe needs strong and democratic Azerbaijan as much as Azerbaijan needs the Council of Europe. It is a mutual need.

Heydar Aliyev: You express my thoughts for 100 percent.

Andrew Tucker: Mr. President, I know that You are well aware of our country. I respect You for that. I will also say that I am originally from the north, and my spouse is from the south. However we, while getting used to the family, customs and traditions of each other, lived together and shared this experience.

One of the biggest objectives for me in Azerbaijan as the ambassador is to contribute to the peoples of our countries, in particular the young, to know much about each other, to assist them in this mater. I am very pleased that You gave your blessing to me and said that every condition will be created for me to know your people, to visit any corner of your country which I want.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank You. I am very much satisfied.

Translated from the "Azerbaijan" newspaper, 7 October, 2000