The interview of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the correspondent of the \"TV Arte\" channel of France - Paris, January 14, 1997

Question: Mr. President, this meeting is a great honor for me. This evening your interview will be broadcast all over the Europe in French and German by the \"Arte\" channel.

Mr. President, I will ask about 4 or 5 questions to you and I request you, possibly, to give a short answer to them, so we will have a chance to translate them. What do you expect from this visit to France on economic and political fields?

Answer: I have both economic and political expectations from development and expansion of France - Azerbaijan relations.

Question: Can you give any information concretely about the results that you got in economic sphere during this visit? What perspectives do these results open for your country?

Answer: The biggest result is that I have held negotiations on all issues with the President of France Mr. Jacques Chirac about the France - Azerbaijan relations. I am pleased with this meeting and negotiations. After this meeting I have come to the opinion that The President of France Jacques Chirac had more accurate and objective information about Azerbaijan. He has great interest in development of Azerbaijan - France relations in all spheres, including economic, cultural and political areas. The highest result of this meeting is that a long-term contract was signed between the great French companies \"Aciten Elf\" and \"Total\" and SOCAR. The ceremony of signing the contract was held at The Elyse Palace and The Presidents of France and Azerbaijan took part in this ceremony. This contract ensures the joint work between the \"Aciten Elf\" and \"Total\" companies and SOCAR in the two large oil fields of Azerbaijan and the extraction of oil in these fields is expected for 25 years. This is a very effective contract.

Question: Mr. President, this is why I would like to ask you, unlike Russia, what other additional opportunities except oil does Azerbaijan have to come out of the present difficult crisis, which means are used of?

Answer: Yes, we use all means to come out of this economic crisis, including our oil contracts signed so far, - by the way, this the fifth contract signed with the foreign companies, - a few years later it will benefit in economic sphere, and they will help to overcome the crisis in Azerbaijan. I can not say how would be the situation in this field in comparison with Russia. I do not want to compare Russia with Azerbaijan. The Russia is the great state.

Question: A few years have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, how do you know, is its collapse good or bad for Azerbaijan?

Answer: The collapse of the Soviet Union is very good. As a result of this Azerbaijan has gained its independence, it became an independent country. This is a historical achievement for Azerbaijan.

Question: What direction do you prefer more about the future of your country - do you prefer Europe, West or East?

Answer: We pursue an independent policy as an independent state, so we want to take neither that nor this side. We create equal and mutually beneficial relations with all countries and we want to create them then. In this regard, we pay the same level attention to the relations also with Western and Eastern countries, as well as with Russia and the USA. Therefore, we highly evaluate the development of our relations with France.

Question: Mr. President, I know that the time is short. Therefore, I am asking the last question. What do you expect from France in the solution of the Nagorno - Karabakh conflict?

Answer: I expect France to approach Azerbaijan and Armenia the same way. I expect no subjectivity in the peaceful solution of this conflict. The principles for the peaceful solution of this conflict have been made at the beginning of December at Lisbon Summit at OSCE. These are, first, the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Armenia, secondly, a high degree of self - governing status of Nagorno - Karabakh in the territory of Azerbaijan, the third, the principles to ensure the security of the population of all Nagorno - Karabakh. I wish France as member of Minsk Group to help to implement these principles and to participate actively in this process.

The correspondent: Mr. President, I express my gratitude to you and wish you the successful completion of your visit.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much.

Translated from \"Azerbaijan\" newspaper, January 16, 1997