Conversation between President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and the deputy of German Bundestag, member of Bundestag`s "Caucasus group" doctor Mrs. Irmgard Shwercher - President Palace, July 17, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: You're welcome to Azerbaijan! I greet you. As I know you have been acquainted with the Azerbaijan during a few days. It is a wonderful. Because we want our country to be known everywhere, in Germany as well. Please, I hear you.

Irmgard Shwercher: Mr. President, thank you that you have found time and received me during my visit to Azerbaijan. I'm for the first time in Azerbaijan. However I hope that it is not my last visit to your beautiful country.

The principal motive of my visit was to take part in the event devoted to the integration of Azerbaijan to Euro-Atlantic structures organized by Friedrich Naumann Foundation. I think that I have made a certain contribution to it.

Germany, especially the Liberal Party which I represent, had supported the entry of Azerbaijan into the Council of Europe(CE). I hope that Azerbaijan will pass the next step successfully. At the time Committee of Ministers will positively appreciate the entrance of your country into the CE.

I have conducted meetings with some political parties and upcoming parliament elections in Azerbaijan was in the focus of interest.

Yesterday I had a talk with a few members of New Azerbaijan Party in a beautiful place, outside of Baku. But I wasn`t talking only, at the same time I tasted of wonderful dishes from your cuisine. I consider that a discussion and tasty meal complete each other.

Heydar Aliyev: Right!

Irmgard Shwercher: As a whole, if the parties don`t come to an agreement with each other, it may be that a good meal and tasty fish can hasten this agreement.

I had also met with some opposition parties existing in Azerbaijan and we discussed a number of questions.

Thank you once more for receiving me. I want to inform that I am closely engaged in Germany-Caucasus Friendship Group in the parliament, Bundestag. We have got such a program: after the November elections, we want to invite one group of the new elected deputies to Germany. I hope that we will have a detailed discussion while meeting there.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. The works that you have done for us are very important during your visit to Azerbaijan. As I stated that first of all because you see the present reality of Azerbaijan yourself. I guess that here, in Baku together with positive sides you also have got to know its suffering. You know that our sufferings are great, as a result of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict and 20% of Azerbaijan lands were occupied by the Armenian militarists and there are nearly more than 1 mln Azerbaijanis which were driven out by force are living in bad conditions. AS a new, young independent country, of course, our problems are not only these but there are many of them.

After the World War II, Germany passed a long way, but it experiences so many problems. You made much efforts for uniting Germany and you did it. The separation of Germany hurt you much, didn't it? Though there lived germans in the eastern part of it, but they were living in different state system. And we also welcome the unification of Germany.

But I'm telling you that 20% of Azerbaijani land is under the occupation and all these territories have been ruined. 1 mln of our citizens live under arduous conditions in tents. It is our great misfortunate and our greatest problems. However we have got some other problems. As I told you before, we try to solve them.

In spite of such a big problem as you know and see, that there is already a progress in Azerbaijan economy. You see here the market economy and private sector. But 5 years before there were none of them. You see nice shops, restaurants, hotels - they didn't exist before. All of them are the outcome of our economical policy. But I don`t say that we achieved everything. We have many problems in this field. But despite the fact that our 20% land is under the occupation and we have achieved such progress in economy it witnesses that we are in the right direction.

I guess that during these meetings you have felt the social-political panorama of Azerbaijan. Well, upcoming parliament elections are one of the most important issues for all of us. But I suppose that during the last 5 years, since the previous parliament elections up to present one our nation has advanced and the society has changed. Now we are hopeful that the elections will be held in high level, fully democratic conditionsand people will obtain opportunity to express their will freely and independently.

There are very close friendship relation between Germany and Azerbaijan. We attach a great importance to these relations. In 1996 I made an official visit to Germany and we had very significant meetings. The statesmen of Germany also visited Azerbaijan. The former foreign minister Mr. Kinkel was in Baku as well, some other ministers and Bundestag deputies also were in Azerbaijan. One of the deputies who too often visited Azerbaijan I remember was Mr. Vimmer. Do you know him?

Irmgard Shwercher: He is my companion in the party.

Heydar Aliyev: Are you from the same party?

Irmgard Shwercher: Yes, I am

Heydar Aliyev: Then you are our friend. Very good.

I thank you for the efforts and support that Germany rendered us in connection with the Azerbaijan's entry into the CE. I will remember that Germany will fulfill its activity also in the Committee of Ministers to act to finish this procedure all together. Any way you will provide Mr. Yohka Fischer with a good information about it.

Irmgard Shwercher: Mr. President, there are problems in this connection that I'd like to discuss with you.

Heydar Aliyev: All right, we will talk about it. I repeat again that we, together with Germany will try to broaden relations in all fields henceforth. There are many achievements in the economical relations and your visit to Azerbaijan, naturally, will serve its purpose.

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, 18 July 2000.