Statement of Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan following his meeting with Jacques Chirac, President of France - January 24 , 2001

Thank you Mr. President. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the invitation of the President of France to pay an official visit to France.

President Heydar Aliyev talked in detail about the activities of the Minsk Group of OSCE and its co-chairs in order to peacefully resolve the conflict, highly appreciated the initiatives of France and Jacques Chirac on the resolution of conflict.

The Azerbaijani President talked about his direct negotiations with Robert Kocharyan, President of Armenia, and meanwhile, emphasized the need for increasing the initiatives to settle the conflict by the co-chairing countries of OSCE - US, Russia, France.

Jacques Chirac emphasized the importance of the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict for the establishment of peace, stability and security in the Southern Caucasian region, more rapid development of democracy in states of the region and the expansion of economic relations among them, meanwhile stated that regular meetings between President Heydar Aliyev and Robert Kocharyan have an essential importance in advancing initiatives to find a compromise to settle the conflict. Mr. Jacques Chirac surely stated that the meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian President, to be held in Paris on January 26, will give a special impetus to the acceleration of the peaceful resolution process. It is of great significance that France is a co-chair in the Minsk Group together with Russia and the United States of America for the resolution of the conflict peacefully.

I should say that France, personally President Mr. Chirac are actively involved in this issue and has forwarded new initiatives .Today we broadly discussed this problem. I am satisfied with the results of our discussions and the position of France. I believe that with the endeavors of the President Jacques Chirac, we shall be able to resolve the conflict with peaceful means.

I invited Mr. Jacques Chirac to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan.

Jacques Chirac: I accepted this invitation with a great pleasure.

Heydar Aliyev: However this visit was planned in 1998, it failed because of some reasons. I hope that it will take place this time. Our meetings and negotiations will continue. I thank Mr. President Jacques Chirac for his intention to create conditions for me to meet Kocharyan, President of Armenia.

Mr. President, I thank you for your hospitality, sincerity toward us and our friendship with you.

Then the Presidents answered to the questions of reporters.

Question: «Have you touched upon the resolution of the Parliament concerning `genocide of the Armenians in Turkey»?

Jacques Chirac: President Aliyev expressed his deep regret and said that the people of Azerbaijan exceedingly criticized the resolution of the parliament. I do understand this criticism and take it into consideration. But it will never harm the existing friendship and mutual relations between Azerbaijan and France.

Question: Did you come to an agreement on the Karabakh conflict?

Heydar Aliyev: We discussed various variants; however, we shall continue our relations and the discussions. I hope that we shall find a solution.

Jacques Chirac: Thank you.