From the talk of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with David Roger Thomas, the ambassador of Great Britain to Azerbaijan - Presidential Residance, October 20,2000

Heydar Aliyev: As to me, you don`t want to work here.

Roger Thomas: Mr. President, my term of service came to an end. To be a diplomat is like the serve in an army. The Foreign Minister of Great Britain has called me back. I am to agree. Maybe, Mr. Cook considers I`am becomining an Azerbaijani. In any case, I look like Azerbaijani.

Mr. President, as my term of service came to an end, I thought it my duty to meet you and express my thanks to you for high level of the British-Azerbaijani relations, as well as our cooperation.

I have been in all the parts of you country-Guba, Lenkeran, Shaki, Barda, etc. I`ve met a lot of Azerbaijanis in different parts of the country, I`ve even been at the top of Babadag.

I want to underline that I`ve never met any hostility against the representatives of any foreign countries in Azerbaijan. That`s why we appreciate it very much. I think the relations between the two countries are at high level. The main thing I value in our collaboration is that I had an opportunity to say openly what I thought to the ministers and officials of your country. They also spoke to me openly. I can`t say we agreed all the time, but we always had a useful exchange of views.

After this, I will work as a general counsel of Great Britain in San-Fransisko. But Azerbaijan will remain in my heart for ever. Though I `ll not be here, I `ll watch all the events in this country with great interest.

Great Britain and Azerbaijan have gained great successes in their bilateral relations. One of them is your official visit to Great Britain. I`m very sorry I couldn`t organize Prime Minister Tony Bleyr`s official visit to Azerbaijan. But I`m sure the new ambassador will do it .

Mr. President, I`m glad that the number of our staff has increased a lot, as well as the embassy has also enlarged its activity in Baku. Now, a lot of our employers work together with the British Council and BBC.

I want to add that Great Britain`s diplomatic activity in Azerbaijan is the largest one not only in the Caucases, but over the region after Moscow. Interest in this country in London is growing more and more. I think this interest will continue to grow day by day. It will be an incentive for the developing and strengthening bilateral relations between the countries. Thanks to you.

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. ambassador, you are right. I want to add that we appreciate the Azerbaijani - British relations.

One of my first visits was to London, February, 1994, since I was elected president. Then, as you said, my official visit to Great Britain, in 1998, was the next step to develop the British-Azerbaijani relations and raise it to high level.

Mr. Ambassador, I think you can understand me without any translation.

Roger Thomas: Yes, Mr. President, I understand you without any translation.

Heydar Aliyev: Within my official visit to London, in 1998, Foreign Minister Robert Cook emphasized that you`ll enlarge the embassy of Great Britain in Azerbaijan. Because you attach importance to Azerbaijan. It satisfies me that he has fulfilled his promise. I don`t know its extent, but you added the number of the staff of the embassy has enlarged a lot. If it exceeds those, CIS countries, except Moscow, it shows your countries interest and attention to Azerbaijan. It satisfies me. Because we want to develop cooperation and friendship in all spheres.

It isn`t accidental that the representatives of Azerbaijani have taken part in some international confrances held in London. You know that we have signed contracts with 20 foreign companies in order to realize the new oil strategy of Azerbaijan. But BP has the biggest share in the first contract. Then BP has increased it by buying "AMOKO". Now, it has the share of "AMOKO" . That`s why BP plays the leading role in Azerbaijan International Operation Company.

As you know, David Woodward supervises everything here. It shows the level of economic collaboration with your country. But we don`t want to expand our cooperation only in economy field, but also in the sphere of science, education, culture and other. We want it to be much better than today. Because I have said it not once that Great Britain is our friend and partner, it materialize its interests in the Caucasian countries, as well as in Central Asian goes through Azerbaijan. All this make us to develop and pay attention to our relations.

You regretted that you couldn`t organize Tony Bleyr`s visit to Azerbaijan. Robert Cook had also promised me to come. But he didn`t keep this promise.

Roger Thomas: I`ll certainly remind it to him.

Heydar Aliyev: Because he`s promised to come. He came to Georgia, but not to Azerbaijan.

Roger Thomas: He`s also promised me to come to Azerbaijan. I`ll remind his promise given to you, as well as that of mine.

Heydar Aliyev: Because our society pays more attention to such things. But I don`t take it into consideration. If he doesn`t come today, it can be in future. Because Azerbaijan is always within the interests of Great Britain its development, geographical - strategical position, as well as in independence, democracy will always attract Britain.

If I`m not mistaken, you have been Azerbaijan for 3 years.

Roger Thomas: Yes, 3 years.

Heydar Aliyev: You have a great role in the development of British-Azerbaijani relations within these 3 years. I appreciate your activity and express my satisfaction with it.

You said you`ve been in some parts of Azerbaijan, even in Babadag. But you have never met any feelings of hostility in comparison with other foreign countries. I want to underline that you can meet friendship and warm attitude, but not hostility here. First of all, it`s the quality of our people. Secondly, it depends on the level of bilateral relations with Great Britain, and Azerbaijan pays special attention to these relations within in its foreign policy. That`s why you`ve done your best to be helpful to your country, as well as to develop British-Azerbaijani relations and have gained a lot of friends here. If you have been in so many places, they `ll remain in your memory . That`s why neither we, nor our people will forget your activity.

Now, you are going to San-Fransisko. There are some differences between Baku and San-Fransisko. Someone can like San-Fransisko. But Baku is the most beautiful city for us. We are optimistic, although we`ve some difficulties and problems .Our country, especially our capital, has developed a lot within these 3 years. You can compare it with 1991 or 1992.

In these days we celebrated the ninth anniversary day of our independence. But Azerbaijan suffered great difficulties when it declared its an independence in1991 of October. We declared our independence. But some powers wanted to destroy this independence as soon as possible .As you know, we could remove these obstacles in 1993.

I`ve told it to the participants of Olympic games when I met them Azerbaijan has gained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. USSR was a super state, it was so powerful that none of 15 republics could get independence, if even they aspired for it

I don`t know how you will treat it, but if colonial system of England had not collapsed, how India or other countries could have become independent. It`s true that some of them form the Commonwealth. However, England has its colonies all over the world.

For instance, Honkong was under the rule of England up to the last two years. The collapse of the colonial system after the World War II, gave independence to the peoples of Africa, Asia and other continents. Otherwise, Nigeria, Uqanda or Mali in Africa couldn`t gain their independence themselves, as well as Azerbaijan. Because Soviet Union united 15 republics and all of them had equal rights. They formed the USSR- the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But we did not feel independent, although we had great success in the republic. When I worked in Moscow, I observed all these. That`s why independence gained not only by Azerbaijan, but also all the republics of the former USSR was the result of historical events. It originated from necessity. Now some people think that we fought and got our independence. But none of them could do anything. Because the Soviet government was strong, it wouldn`t let anyone destroy it.

But all the events going in the world, the fall of Berlin Walls, events on-going in Europe, in the Eastern Europe-Polsha, as well as in other countries shook the anthem and the root of the USSR. As result, the Soviet Union collapsed and we gained our independence. This independence was given us by God. But to preserve this independence is very difficult. I think that protection of this independence was the great success of Azerbaijan in the past seven years.

Because there have been many pressures against our independence. You know that some countries support Armenia in aggression against Azerbaijan. Even our close partner USA renders it every year, but not to Azerbaijan. Because the section 907 was applied. Using these some countries wanted to keep us under their influence and restrict our independence. However, we pursued an independent policy. We managed to stop the war and develop the economy. It is natural that we have reached a definite level, but we must go ahead.

We signed the contract of the Century in 1994. We suffered terrors, efforts of coup d`etats, after the signature of the contract.

I remember Suret Huseynov who destroyed the government of the Popular Front in 1993, was prime minister then . When we signed the contract, a great event for us , he sat by me. After the contract was signed, they told among them that they would tear it in 2-3 days. When I was told it, I answered that he could do it if he had any courage. But he attempted, i.e. a day later 4 violent criminals were escaped from the prison and all them went to Moscow.

I went to New-York and was at the Assembly of the United Nations. While I was mounting the rostrum, I was told that a terror was commited against to 2 political leaders. Vice -chairman of parliament Afiyyedin Calilov......

Roger Thomas: When did it happen.

Heydar Aliyev: On September 29, 1994. We signed the contract on September 20,1994. on September 21, the very criminals escaped from the prison and went to Moscow. Suret Huseynov realized his plans. I went to New-York, because I had to be there as a president .

Then I returned to Azerbaijan and began to take measures. But there was a coup d`etats on October 3 by Suret Huseynov. He had much power then. Because a part of military forces was under his control. But I appealed the people that night. Over 500000 people defended us till the next day in the square.

We can speak about it a lot. I want to underline that our independence is given us by the God. But to protect it is our duty. This is more difficult. Now, we have friendly and fraternal relations with England, France, The USA opponents of the USSR during the `Cold War`, as well as having no warm and keen relations with Russia up-today. That`s why the 9 years` independence wasn`t so easy. But now nobody can deprive us from our independence.

I repeat again, We appreciate the British -Azerbaijani relations a lot. BP is not only in that contract. It has a leading part in the contract on Shahdeniz structure. The main participant in this contract is BP. That`s why, if we `ve signed 20 contracts on the oil-gas deposit of Azerbaijan, the main part belongs to England, as well as to BP. This shows our attitude to Great Britain.

In short, we had good relations during your diplomatic service of 3 years in Azerbaijan. I think our relations will develop more in future. Once again I express my gratitude to you. I wish you good health and success and hope you `ll occasionally remember Azerbaijan, as well as the peak of Babadag in San-Fransisko.

Roger Thomas: Mr. President, thanks for these good words. I`ll remember it forever. I assure you I`ll try to be useful and helpful for your country wherever I am.

You have anylized some events of the past. I can add we`ll always support the independence of Azerbaijan, its freedom and sovereignty. I assure you in it.

We feel pride of BP`s activity in Azerbaijan, but Great Britain`s support to this country isn`t connected with it. We shall always support the freedom of Azerbaijan. I wish successes to you and your country in future.

Heydar Aliyev: Thanks.

Translated from "Azerbaijan" newspaper , on October 21, 2000.