Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev at the official reception held by the USA - Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce - Washington, 11 September, 2000

Ladies and gentlemen!

Esteemed Mr. Brzezinski!

Representatives of state and government of the United States of America!

Dear friends!

I am very pleased to be in the United States of America and its capital Washington again. I am happy to have the honor to take part in meeting arranged by the USA-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce, to share with you my thoughts and listen to you. Today is the fifth anniversary since the foundation of the USA-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce, the IV Conference of which launched its work today. The conference lasted all day long, and it will continue tomorrow. Very valuable thoughts of the United States of America and Azerbaijan were stated at the conference.

It is a very significant event. Because we, Azerbaijan, extremely need to broaden our links with the United States of America in all the areas, we need it, we want it and aspire for it.

We, naturally, achieved much in the sphere of international relations. During my this official visit, and other visits to the United States of America, I repeatedly met, talked and held exchange of views with the President of the USA, vice-president, many ministers, members of the Congress and prominent politicians, as well as representatives of business circles.

I am also very pleased that in the recent years, interest of the United States of America in Azerbaijan is growing day by day, and as a consequence, guests from the United States arrive in Azerbaijan. I cannot say that many of them come, but in comparison with the past, it is suitable for us, i.e. it suits us, and it is good. To tell the truth, the President of the United States has not yet been to Azerbaijan, but perhaps, time will come and he will arrive, or other officials have not been either. However, some ministers, senators, congressmen, renowned socio-political figures have visited Azerbaijan.

I want to say that our mutual links in different fields develop. I positively estimate the role of the USA-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce in the development of contacts in the field of economy and trade. I suppose that today`s conference and the fifth anniversary will have a significant impact on the further intensive development of the American-Azerbaijani relations.

My dear friend, Mr. Brzezinski!

You have stated in Your speech here that You have known President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev for already several years, and You are acquainted with him. I remember that some years ago, You spoke the history of Your acquaintance with me.

But I have known You for a long time. Why? Because You were a well-known person in the foreign policy of the United States of America and on the international scene for many years. The people here know that I was at the head of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan for many years, and then I was one of the leaders of the Soviet Union, a member of Political Bureau, first deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers. Those years were the years of cold war. Naturally, during the years of "the cold war", we, including the high officials as me attempted above all to study the United States of America. Because both of the sides wanted to win a victory in the "cold war". The Soviet Union together with the socialist countries was at one pole, the USA together with its other allies, European allies, - at another pole. Then we studied who was carrying out such a policy, who undertook and what kind of steps were undertaken against the USSR, how it could damage us, and at the same time, what benefits it could bring to the United States of America.

Then Mr. Brzezinski was very famous both all over the world and in the USSR. Why? Because Mr. Brzezinski had great services during the "cold war" to the United States of America and to the disruption of the socialist block.

Then many of us would say: Where did this Brzezinski come from? How did he appear, on the scene, why did he become a problem for us? What does it mean? Naturally, if two poles wage war against each other, no matter whether it is a "cold war" or a real one, one of the outstanding heroes of the block headed by the United States of America was Mr. Brzezinski.

Mr. Brzezinski has a beautiful family, and a very attractive spouse. He is skilled in art, sculpture, he is a wonderful personality, and I think that to achieve such an impressive success in politics, to be a hero in politics, one should be a hero in the army, - you know, it is not so easy to become a hero in the army, however, many can achieve it. To be a hero in politics is very difficult, it does not come easily to many people. You see, what a price of Mr. Brzezinski`s heroism is, - I think his spouse has played here a very essential role. As far as I was a guest of Mr. Brzezinski`s family, we were together with his family and we were together with his spouse in Baku, Azerbaijan, we talked for a long time. I made sure that his spouse well matches him, she is a very intelligent person. Of course, one can envy such a family. In addition, naturally, such families can become an object of jealousy. But no matter who is jealous, he will not be able to forget this wonderful family.

Mr. Brzezinski, I appreciate You for those words that You said here about Azerbaijan and about me personally. It is of very high value for me. You have said that I held leading positions for many long years, I heard a great deal of praises. It is true, I have nothing to conceal. But who praised me? The words said by Mr. Brzezinski about me, about the work I fulfilled in Azerbaijan, are perhaps worth of thousand words said by other people. Therefore, it is very valuable for me.

I fully share Your thoughts. The primary condition for any country, and, in particular, for a country which gained its independence, is establishment of the socio-political stability. As a consequence of the fact that the soviet ideology, communist ideology suffered a defeat in that "cold war", one could say that the majority of the world countries, including those young states, which were a part of the Soviet Union, and which gained independence afterwards, have chosen the way of democracy. Actually, the way of democracy is such a way which satisfies all the demands of a state, a human being, the society.

As You know, after Azerbaijan gained independence, we passed through many ordeals. At first, there was no stability. Unfortunately, at the moment of gaining independence Azerbaijan was waging war with the neighbouring Armenia. That war was connected with the territorial claims raised by Armenia against Azerbaijan. Other different reasons, - as a result of a special aid rendered to Armenia both by the leadership of the Soviet Union and many other countries of the world, - armed forces of Armenia occupied a part of the territory of Azerbaijan. More than a million our fellow countrymen were driven away from the occupied lands, and the majority of them live in tents now.

I remember that in due time, Mr. Brzezinski made great efforts, visited refugees and internally displaced people living in those tents. Mr. Brzezinski, I still remember the words You said then. You said that You had seen refugee camps in Africa and Afghanistan, as well as in some countries of Asia. However, You had nowhere faced with such a hard situation as suffered by the people living in the refugee camps of Azerbaijan. Do You remember those words?

Consequently, such was the situation when we gained our independence and started to build an independent state. However our disaster was not only this. Unfortunately, various people inside Azerbaijan, making use of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war, drew to their side a part of the armed forces and carried out struggle for power. Therefore, in 1992, the power was seized by the force of arms. In 1993, the situation in Azerbaijan got aggravated so much that it resulted in the civil war, and Azerbaijan was on the verge of split. The then President of Azerbaijan and other persons had to run away.

In that hard period I arrived in Azerbaijan and was elected as the President. I want to say that in comparison with other independent states of the former Soviet Union, we passed a more difficult way. However, in the meantime, we have provided stability. Since 1995, internal stability has been established in Azerbaijan. We are carrying out economic, social and political reforms. Although one million from among the 8-million population of Azerbaijan live in tents as refugees, and twenty percent of the republic`s territory is under the occupation by the Armenian armed forces, the economy of our country is developing. Today, in the morning, I disclosed my opinion as regards this at the conference. Many talked about that. I do not want to repeat myself. In other words, I confirm the words said by You, Mr. Brzezinski, that stability is the primary principle for our country. And we have attained it.

We have attained it with great difficulty, through democracy - and this is a difficult and long way. I fully share Your thoughts that young independent states, when standing on the path of democracy, should follow the way of evolution, the way of democracy. The experience of other countries is convincing for us in this respect. I am very pleased that such individuals in the United States of America as Mr. Brzezinsli and other people possessing wide world outlook can correctly state their opinion about how to pass this way.

You have mentioned here that thirty years ago, some citizens of the United States of America were deprived of electoral franchise. Besides, we know that women had not equal rights with men. However in Azerbaijan, emancipation of women took place much earlier than in America. We outstripped you in this regard. To put it differently, the United States of America - the country that had stood on the path of democracy more than two hundred years ago, implemented various aspects of this democracy as early as twenty, thirty years ago. Therefore, the United States of America, as the most highly-developed country in the world from the economic point of view, should be an example, a pattern for younger states following the way of independence due to its high level of living standard of the population and in view of its high authority in the world.

Such is our attitude towards the United States of America. We consider the United States of America to be the most progressive state of the world. We consider the United States of America to be a highly developed country from the economic point of view. We consider the United States of America to be the country which has achieved the greatest progress in the development of democracy.

However, let us speak frankly - how many years did you need to achieve it? What damage did the War Between the States caused to you? After that war, the wisest people of the United States of America chose the way of democracy. Nevertheless, did you attain such a situation within a year, five, ten or fifteen years? It is already more than two hundred years since you started to follow this way. Thus, the United States of America suffered the hardest economic crisis on the eve of the beginning of the World War II. It is true, there were other disadvantages too. Therefore, the country which has passed such a way, looking back at the stages of its history, should be cautious to the limit in respect of other countries.

I repeat once more, it should be an example in creation and development of democracy. And you are the example as a matter of fact. Because you are a highly developed democratic country. But there is another side of this matter, too. Some believe here that the democracy in Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan should be at the same level as it is in the USA. It is unreal, of course. One should know and understand it. Therefore, Mr. Brzezinski is absolutely right saying that "democracy should pass the way of evolution". You should also know that Azerbaijan, deprived of democracy for a hundred, two hundred years, cannot today, within a nine-year period of independence, cross at once, as the saying goes, to the other side of the river and provide the democracy of a high level. This is not the point, the point is which way our country has chosen. It is the way of democracy, freedom, pluralism of opinions, freedom of the press, protection of human rights. It is necessary to analyze correctly in what extent we managed or did not manage to achieve it, it is necessary to analyse it and disclose the attitude to them effectively.

To be an example means that the United States of America sets an example for other countries, including Azerbaijan, and tries to make this example attractive.

In other words, they do not apply this example by force, but make this example attractive and open a way, so that such countries as Azerbaijan would adopt this example. It is quite different. You know, the success obtained through force, under compulsion, does not produce any results. Therefore, I confirm once again the value of Your words: "Democracy should develop through evolution".

I want to remind you a well-known fact from the history of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union came out from the World War II as a very powerful state. The German fascism suffered a defeat. The people, being at the head of the Soviet Union after the war, believed that the ideas of Lenin and Marks should be implemented into life, socialism, communism and soviet ideology should flourish all over the world.

Such a desire can certainly exist, no one can protest against it - only if the given countries and peoples want it. But many did not want it. Thus, working in the Political Bureau, I knew that many problems occurred in the socialist countries of the Eastern Europe. Moscow strived to have all the matters, for example in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, be as they are in the Soviet Union. However, it did not happen as long as every country had its own distinctive features. They were indeed devoted to the idea of socialism, but each of them wanted to follow its own way.

As far as some shops in the Eastern Germany were in the private sector, I can remember that some people in Moscow claimed that, what kind of socialism it is if there is private property, a private sector, do you understand? Or I remember once I was in Hungary. I was told there: second person of the country wants to leave for the Western Germany, he gives up the socialist way of development. You should talk to him a little. I talked to him and made sure that he wanted to carry out work for the benefit of his country. However, he was put on the list in Moscow as a person inclined to capitalism. This approach towards the people existed in every country: this one is a follower of the soviet power, but another one is inclined to capitalism. You know, I witnessed all of that.

Such an expression as "Export of Revolution" was current in those times. Yes, the Soviet Union exported revolution, the socialist revolution to a number of regions of the world, but exported through force. And that did not bring any results. And today, if democracy is exported and it is done by force, it will not yield good results.

Just therefore, the way of evolution of democracy, the example of democratically developed countries its attractiveness will lead such countries as ours, i.e. the countries which recently gained independence, along the path of democracy. Some will start earlier, some a little later. It should be also taken into consideration that each nation has its own traditions and spiritual values established throughout centuries. Thus, Azerbaijan has national-spiritual values established in the course of centuries. We cannot lose these values. But when these values are synthesized with universal values, European values, American values, yes, it will bring good results. The preference is nevertheless given to the Western values - European, American values.

At the same time, the national-spiritual values do not disappear either. In due time, the Soviet Union attempted to destroy religion by conducting the policy of atheism. We were deprived of religion within seventy years. However, as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed, religion started to flourish in all the countries within a year. That is to say, it is possible to apply force against people, to inculcate something forcib. But it is impossible to change anything inside man forcibly. Our way - I am speaking about Azerbaijan - is the way of democracy. The synthesis of national-spiritual values of Azerbaijan with universal values, with democracy, Euro-American values on the path of democracy, and as a result of it, - steady development of democracy.

Mr. Brzezinski, I have set forth my broad, from our point of view, from my point of view, opinion as regards some of Your words. However, I mounted this rostrum not only with this purpose. Although I take Your time, I want to say that Azerbaijan occupies a very important strategic and geo-strategic place in the Caucasus, between the West and the East. Azerbaijan is a gate from the East to the Wets and from the West to the East. It was said much today about other opportunities of Azerbaijan as well. Our aim is the spread the values of the United States of America over the Caucasus and the Central Asia, their development, and we want to attain this goal. Therefore, we strive for developing friendship relations, economic and political contacts with the United States of America in all the areas. The United States of America is a key country for Azerbaijan, for its foreign policy.

We want to carry out strategic cooperation with the United States of America. From this point of view, Azerbaijan can be very useful and indeed very valuable for the USA. I know that many in Washington are aware of this, but some are not perhaps.

I express once again my satisfaction with this meeting. I express gratitude to the very respectable people for their participation at this reception.

I ask you to raise your glasses to the Azerbaijan-American friendship, to the Azerbaijani-American cooperation; I want to wish the United States of America to be an even more developed country.

To the American people! To the President of the United States of America! To you! To our friends! Thank you!

The Azerbaijan daily, 24 September, 2000