Speech of the President of Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony of signature of the statement on the friendly relations and partnership by the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Ireland Tony Blair - London, residence of the prime minister, July 21, 1998

Mr. Prime Minister!

First of all I express my gratitude to you for inviting me to pay an official visit to Great Britain. The multilateral, comprehensive and interesting negotiations held by me in your country and today with you laid a very good basis for the development of relations between our countries.

In the last four months we have gained good results in the development of relations between the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan in all the spheres. All these open wide perspectives for the cooperation between our countries.

Mr. Prime Minister, we lay the foundations of future together. The political statement  signed by us just now is of great importance, and I appreciate it highly. The establishment of such relations between the United Kingdom, which is one of the great states of the world, and Azerbaijan, and the signature of such a political statement are of great political importance to Azerbaijan.

The economic agreements, documents signed by us today create a very good basis for the future development of relations between the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan. Gaining independence, following the road of democratization, progress and market economy are very important for us.

Your country, your nation have great historical achievements. In the second half of XX century, after the World War II your country made a big progress in all spheres. We use your experience in all the spheres. By building a legal, democratic, secular state, by creating and developing the market economy, we try to use your experience.

Joint development of the rich deposits in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea and, the onshore oil deposits in the territory of Azerbaijan wholly with large oil companies of the United Kingdom are of great importance for us. The companies of the United Kingdom have update technology, rich experience, highly skilled personals, are able to develop the natural resources of Azerbaijan jointly in future.

I declare that we shall try to realize all the provisions of the political statement - concerning the friendly relations and partnership between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Great Britain and the Northern Ireland, we shall constantly develop our friendship, cooperation between the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan.

I congratulate You, express my gratitude for the kind words about Azerbaijan and me. Thank you.

Question: How do you apreciate the contracts signed today? The second question: Is Russia a partner or rival of Azerbaijan in the Caspian?

Answer: First of all, I appreciate them very positively, otherwise I would have not given my consent to their signature. By the way, that today the companies of Russia, Moscow also took part in the signature of an agreement. The contract on behalf of the Russian Oil Company was signed by the former minister of Energy Yuri Shaphranic. He is here. This fact is an answer to your next question. Russia is a partner of Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea, of course. Russia takes part in a number of other contracts. And now, as you see, here in London, we sign a contract with a company of the United Kingdom, the US company \"AMOCO\" and the companies of Russia. That is to say, we want to cooperate in the Caspian with all the companies, including Russia.

Question: How do you appreciate the present level of the British-Azerbaijani cooperation? Can we think that after the signature of the important documents today this partnership will acquire a strategic character?

Answer: This partnership is just on a high level. The political statement signed by Prime minister Blair and me, includes all the complex of questions on cooperation and friendship between the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan. The content of his political statement speaks about its importance. This statement will be published, you will get acquainted with it and draw a conclusion.

Question: Is there an item about the Nagorno-Karabakh in the statement?

Answer: Undoubtedly. And not only about Nagorno-Karabakh. The question about the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani confilict over Nagorno-Karabakh discussed broadly with the prime-minister of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom supports the principles of the UN, OSCE and international law, of course. At the Lisbon Summit on December of 1996 the United Kingdom voted for the three principles of the peaceful settlement of the conflict. Today the prime minister again completely confirmed the former position of the United Kingdom, and naturally, expressed the the desire to make efforts for the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Question: Mr. President, can Azerbaijan rely on the assistance of England, being a member of the Council of Europe?

Answer: Yes, we can rely on everybody. Many states are the members of the Council of Europe, we need the support of each of them, including the United Kingdom, and I suppose that we shall get this support.

Question: Mr. President what can you say about the meeting with the Queen?

Answer: The meeting with the Queen made a very good impression on me. We had a very comprehensive conversation about the relations between our countries and cultures at the same time on the current social and political situation in Azerbaijan, on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and on the contacts, economic relations between the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan. I am very satisfied with this conversation.

Question: Mr. President, was the issue of the restoration of \"The Silk Road\" mentioned there?

Answer: Yes, I gave to Tony Blair very detailed information on the restoration of \" The Silk Road \", and on the summit to be held on September 7-8 in Baku. You know that he has been invited to this summit. Prime Minister, Tony Blair was interested in this issue, gave a lot of questions, wanted to clarify some details. I think that he will take part in the summit.

Question: Do you invite him to Azerbaijan?

Answer: Yes, of course. I invite Prime Minister Tony Blair personally to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan. He accepted my invitation. And I send him a letter to take part at the Summit to be held on September 7-8 in Baku, and I today repeated this invitation. He accepted it with satisfaction. Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev “Our independence is eternal”(speeches, statements, interviews, letters, addresses, edicts) vol.16, “Azerneshr”, Baku-2005, p. 347-351