From the speech of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev at the reception of the delegation headed by Yuriy Yekhanurov, first deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine - 19th of May 2000

Heydar Aliyev: I think that the joint comission on economic questions is working well and efficiently. 

Yuriy Yekhanurov: You know, today there is a discource on some Azerbaijani upsurge. Because last week our TV extendedly covered the visit of your Minister of Foreign Affairs to Kiev. And then we came here and were welcomed warmly. 

Last evening and today we worked very actively. It is important that the impuls which you gave had to find its incarnation during the visit of our President this year on March.

Prior to set off to Baku I was received by our President, Leonid Danilovich Kuchma asked me to convey his greetings to you for the letter you had addressed to him. I can say that the phrase "strategic partnership" can be understand in different meanings. But when the President set concrete tasks regarding Azerbaijan, I felt that a special attitude towards your country, personally to you. Our President clearly and convincingly demonstrated it.

I understand that our task is to put into effect the contract that you have signed. Therefore we diligently prepared for this meeting and worked today very effectively. I have to note that as the head of the delegation, I highly appreciate that the meeting was well prepared and the materials have been thoroughly worked out. Nevertheless yesterday we had some questions, but today we were able to come to an aggreement in all of them.

Today we signed several contracts and set certain tasks for us. The meeting in November will be held in Kiev. I think that we may talk about the next stage of fulfilment of the tasks we have undertaken.

My point is that we have questions regarding the cooperation and the reason why they are on the table is that the turn over of good has decreased because of the crisis. Therefore, the main task of our comission is to examine its causes and pave the way for raising this cooperation to a new level. In this connection our President sets clear and great tasks for us. The level of our political relations is quite high. The same level should be achieved in our economic relations as well.

It must be said that both Presidents - you and Leonid Danilovich - have raised the level of our relations to a highiest level. Therefore in order to rich this level we have to do significant amount of works.

My point is that it is highly important today to consider and solve the issues relating to ordinary citizens. A great number of Azerbaijanis are living in Ukraine. The leaders of the Azerbaijani diaspora have come with us. We have exchanged of views with them about the nature of works to be considered and realized. At the request of the disapora, at the level of ministers we have set the task of working out the possibility of application of a free entry and exit regime to the country by next autumn.

Secondly, it is important today to create conditions for coopoeration in the sphere of agriculture and economy. Directors of enterprises and representatives of commercial companies have been included into our delagation. I must say that our government, the Prime Minister, Leonid Danilovich instructed me to start the talks with this moment, they are grateful to you for the help you rendered during the sowing campaign. Now the same kind of help is asked this autumn as well. The assistance you rendered was very timely to our government. The special operation which has been created is critical for our work and now the fuel is being shipped.

Yet another important issue, the problem of free trade within CIS, needs to be solved. At the forthcoming summit is is very important for our countries to take same positions. Decisions have already been reached on the free trade zone, but without exceptions. I know that Azerbaijan has conducted negotiations with Russia in this regard. You just imagine that we have 320 exceptions. What kind of free trade zone is this with so many exceptions? We ask you to take joint position with us in the CIS summit.

Along with this we propose to consider the special relations within GUUAM. I think the example of Central and East European countries is interesting - I mean Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Czechia. They have adopted a special kind of mutual relations, a special trade form. It gave them an opportunity to prepare themselves to meet the requirements of the European Union, and work within their own organization as well. We talked about it in the framework of comissions, and also in our meeting with the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan. I think we have to develop and examine this pattern and see what can be done for the efficient realization of whole economic and trade relations.

There is another matter to mention. We understand well what and security mean in your land. Leonid Danilovich said that durng his visit to Baku he had visited the house of one of the refugees and he was touched. He has instructed the government to send 40 containers here.

I would like to mention that very serious materials were shown in March on our TV about Azerbaijan, about your role in the relations between Ukraine and Azerbaijan . You know, it effects the work of our comission and business people are appealing to our commission. Of course, we were interested in goods imported fom Ukraine and what goods exported to Ukraine. You know, we refretted to know that there is no Ukrainian vodka in your shops. 

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, it would be much in demand in here. 

Yuriy Yekhanurov: That is why we have brought with us here some samples of our vodka people to see. We will negotiate that in any case, it needs to be sold here. That is to say there are certain goods that we can work with them without a headache. Our companies will work and these are new realities.

We understand that at present the government can`t dictate these questions. But beneficial mutual relations are necessary. The documents we signed today demonstrate that real steps have been taken to bring closer our positions in trade-economical relations. I hope very much that our meeting with you and the work of the comission will create conditions for giving a new impuls to our relations. 

Heydar Aliyev: First of all, I thank you for the greetings of my friend Leonid Danilovich. I also ask you to convey my greetings and best wishes to him. His visit to Azerbaijan in March was a very significant and remarkable event for us. Especially from the point of view that we signed here very important contracts on friendship, cooperation and partnership, and number of significant documents for the development of our economic relations. In additon, we exchanged viaws on the range of questions of bilateral relations, and other issues which are in the circle of the intersts of Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

You know that the level of political relations between Ukraine and Azerbaijan is very high .We, really are strategic partners and we have the same views in a number of international questions and the processes connected with tem. Therefore, we highly appreciate our relations with Ukraine. We shall do everything possible to raise our economic relations to the level of our political relations.

During the harvest time and when ther was a critical situation, Leonid Danilovich turned to me and I did everything to help Ukraine. I am glad that we were able to help you and get your country out of this hard situation. And this is not the end of question. We are continuously cooperating with Leonid Danilovich and maintaining our friendly relations. And I highly appreciate it.

It is good that the joint comission is working productively. I am pleased with the information you provided. But it seems it is not efficient at all. We may have much more active economic relations. By the way, you may send us not only vodka, but other goods as well.

Both countries are in the stage of reforms, it causes some difficulties and at the same time has its own advantages. We may remove these difficulties and rich better economical and social conditions.

Azerbaijan will do its best for developing our cooperation. Our ministry of Foreign Affairs have recently visited Ulraine, and I received your Minister of Foreign Affairs. I have forgotten really how many times I have been to Ukraine, to Yalta or Kiev. My last visit to Ukraine was on the occasion of inauguration of Leonid Dnilovich Kuchma. In a word, personally we communicate very frequently and it has greate importance for the relations between our states.

I fully support the work of the joint comission. And I am glad that ther is a progressin its work. I hope that you will be able to carry out the works you have already agreed about and will reach a new, higher horison in this regard.

I am aware of the problems, including the free trade zones. Ukraine and Azerbaijan have ratified the protocol signed at CIS summit. Recently I met the Russian Minster on CIS Leonid Drachevskiy and we had a conversationwith him. And yesterday I received the Executice Secretary of CIS Yuriy Yarov. We discussed the agenda and the question of free trade zone in the first place. It appears that all the CIS members agree with it except Russia. As you mentioned, Russia makes a lot of exceptions.

We also think that some exceptions are acceptable. But if these exceptions are too much, then the document itself will be meaningless. We shall have free trade zone in word, but not in reality. Therefore, you may be sure, and convey it to Leond Danilovich that in the forthcoming summit of CIS, we shall resolutely support your position in order to get this document be approved and impede the acception of extensive number of exceptions.

As to other proposals, about half a million of Azerbaijanis are living in Ukraine. I met their representatives when I was in Kiev. When Leonid Danilovich visited Azerbaijan he also met the representatives of the Ukrainian dispora here. It is a very positiov factor.

As far as I know, the Azerbaijanis in Ukraine are participating actively in the sosio-political life and in the presidential elections all of them voted for Leonid Danilovich Kuchma. In a word, our support to Ukraine is concrete, clear and precise. I also know that they have received a letter thanking for their support of the candidacy of Leonid Danilovich Kuchma. Therefore we thank you for the conditions created for them in Ukraine. They enjoy equal rights and normal life conditions as the citizens of Ukraine...

As I understood, they are happy with the situation, work and life there. It makes me happy. I am glad that we have such a diaspora in Ukraine. And this factor contributes to strengthening the relations between Uklraine and Azerbaijan.

It is the same here, though in Azerbaijan there is not such a big number of Ukrainians. The ambassador knows it - he is the eldest Ukraininan in Azerbaijan. Formerly we were thinking that they are in big numbers in Azerbaijan. In the past we made no distinction between Russians, Ukraininans and Belorussians. (Addressing to the Ambassador of Ukraine to Azerbaijan Boris Aleksenko) when you worked in the Central Committee, I did not know that you are Ukrainian. Then the Ukrainians, Russians and Byelorissians were accepeted as one nation. Now we begin to differ them. That is why I was thinking that we have a big number of Ukrainians, nevertheless,they are in sufficient number here. 

Boris Aleksenko: They are 32000 Ukrainians here. 

Heydar Aliyev: In those years it seemed that more one thousans of Ukrainians here. They live well, normally and have no problems. If you wish move more Ukrainians to us you are welcome. We have no objection to it. Frankly saying, the Ukrainian people are nice. We, the Azerbaijani pople as a whole, and I personally have been in good terms eith the Ukrainians before and now, in the years of independence, we have a sympathy for Ukraine and the people of Ukraine. That is why, we actively cooperate in other questions in the framework of CIS, support each other, and, of course, are trying to have the same position for the sake of benefits of our countries and for the benefits of CIS as a whole. Because, sometimes there are some unsuccessful proposals, endeavours and others there. In this sense we have been cooperating with Leonid Danilovich for many years and our delegations are doing it as well.

You view on the possibility of developing economical cooperation within GUUAM is very wise and correct. After all, actually we have created this organization for economic cooperation. Though some people understand it in other way, and in some instances they try to present it nearly as a military alliance. We, certainly are far from it. I think we have efficient cooperation within GUUAM and it is quite promising.

The economic cooperation with its specific features among the GUUAM countries will, unduobtedly, benefitial for the GUUAM countries and strenghten this organization. Because it covers economic fields.

I set this task before you (addresses to the first deputy Prime Minister Abbas Abbasov) and the minister of Foreign Affairs. I shall instruct the structures involved in economical affairs to stimulate this line of action.

In a word, I thank you.

Yuriy Yexanurov: Thank you very much for your support. The words of a leader, of a worldwide known person were very important for the support of Leonid Danilovich.

Heydar Aliyev: I gave an extensive talk on your television.

Yuriy Yexanurov: Yes, it was really a very great speech. This speech had an effect on the opinion of the Ukrainians in the elections. The elections gave chance to say that the society in Ukraine is consolidated and we have a new president and a new course of action.

Translated from "Azerbaijan" newspaper, May 20, 2000