Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the official banquet held in honor of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafig al-Hariri - February 11, 1998

Dear prime minister!

Dear ministers!

Dear guests!

Today it was started the first official visit by dear prime minister of the Lebanese Republic to the Azerbaijan Republic. This is a significant event in centuries-old history of the Azerbaijani-Lebanese relations.

Mister prime minister, I express you my gratitude that you accepted my invitation and arrived in Azerbaijan with official visit. Today we conducted rather fruitful, substantial and more important talks with you. Dear prime minister, at our meeting in private we discussed some questions, concerning Azerbaijani-Lebanese relations, world, international situation and also the condition in the Middle East.

I am quite satisfied with that during this meeting in private, exchange of opinions, negotiations on some questions confirmed a generality of our outlook, ideas. It is very important for friendship and the further cooperation between our countries and peoples.

During negotiations between our delegations, we analyzed the relations, which have developed between our countries, and I informed you in detail on Azerbaijan`s situation in last years and today. I am quite satisfied with that you correctly and objectively estimated today's position of Azerbaijan, condemn aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and opposed infringement of Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity as other countries. I would like to notify that Azerbaijan wishes peace settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and we will continue our efforts in this field as well as in the future.

It is known that there are close cooperation relations between Lebanon and Armenia. We spoke with you about it in detail. I wish to express my big satisfaction with that you also suggested to make efforts to peace settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. I think that Lebanon and personally you, mister prime minister, have such opportunities. If you can use these opportunities for the peace settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict on the basis of the international law we will be very grateful to you.

Today, for the first time very important intergovernmental agreements were signed between Lebanon and Azerbaijan. These are first steps for promotion of our economic relations. I highly appreciate it. I consider that as a result of our joint efforts, we will have an opportunity to sign still many contracts in the future.

Once again I declare respect and esteem of the people and state of Azerbaijan to the Lebanese people. We always closely pursued the processes occurring in your region during last 20 years. We pursued processes, difficulties, some tragedies, happened in your country, with heart-ache.

In 1972, I visited your country. I was admired by beauty and rich economy of your country, beautiful buildings, architectural monuments of your capital, city of Beirut. At that time everyone spoke that Lebanon and Beirut are the paradise of orient. Lebanon really looks like paradise. In the following years, when in Lebanon and Beirut there were destructions as a result of big war, I watched it with a feeling of great regret and torture. Thank to Allah, these years have remained behind. Now there is a stable political condition in Lebanon and Lebanon develops its economy.

We know that your country has a pain that your lands have been occupied, and you have also a problem which can difficultly be solved. We wish that God help you to solve all problems. I am sure that you will achieve the solution of all these problems.

Elimination of the destructions, which have occurred in Lebanon as a result of civil war, restoration of Beirut city and some territories of Lebanon, which have been destroyed, for a short term, and today's economic situation of Lebanon show that the Lebanese people are self-sacrificing people and very worthy political figures live in Lebanon. Mister prime minister, I want to note especially your activity in this regard.

My dear friend, you are the famous person in the world. Your road in life, your activity, true service to the people is known not only in Lebanon, but also in the world. Mister prime minister, you have special services in the settlement of difficult problems of Lebanon. However, you have carried out and continue to carry out gratifying work not only in Lebanon, but also in a number of the countries of the world. When I was in Saudi Arabia and visited Mecca and Medina, I visited the largest library where the Koran is published. Today I knew that you have special services in creation of the sacred center for us.

Lebanon is a remarkable place for tourists, travelers, for those who live freely. But Lebanon is also very difficult place to rule the government, to cope with very complicated processes. I think so.

Mister prime minister, since 1992, it is more than five years, you have done great work as the prime minister, supervising over the supreme body in the Republic of Lebanon, parliamentary republic. At the same time, Lebanon is the democratic country, its state construction have been established on the basis of democratic principles. If you did not manage with this heavy work properly, you could not be in Lebanon on a post of the prime minister for such a long term. In such country, on such a post, only the person, who truly serves to people, the nation, the country, can get success. We know you as a person like that. And for all these, personally I express you my respect and esteem.

I believe that relations between Lebanon and Azerbaijan will intensively develop as well as henceforth and we will strengthen friendship of our people even more. I wish all of you health and happiness. I wish to Lebanese people peace, tranquility, restoration of territorial integrity of Lebanon. Mister prime minister, I wish you successes in all your activities. In honor of the friendly Lebanese country, Lebanese people, the Prime Minister Mister Al Hariri, the distinguished leader of Lebanon. In honor of the President of Lebanon, our friend Ilyas Haravi. In honor of all of you.

Thank you.