Interview of Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan with the journalists ‎on results of his official visit to the United States on his way back home on the board of ‎plane - August 06, 1997 ‎

Esteemed journalists, representatives of press, people who accompanied me!

My official visit to the United States of America is over, we are returning home. This has been a very long visit. For many days we have been together, you have always been with me. I suppose that you have followed all the moments of this visit. But still to sum up the visit I have decided to meet with you on board of the Boeing while crossing over the Atlantic Ocean and I want to say a few words about its results.

First, I want to point out the fact that this has been the first offi­cial visit of the Azerbaijani President to the United States of Amer­ica. This visit has been realized at the invitation of the US Presi­dent Bill Clinton. This visit is of historical importance according to its content and essence, to the signed documents and generally to its results. This is indeed a historical event for our Azerbaijani peo­ple, for our nation, for independent Azerbaijan. As you know, since I was elected the Azerbaijani President, I have attached a special significance to the relations with the United States of America in our foreign policy. Today I can say and I have the grounds to say that we have managed to do a lot in this sphere. Since 1993 we have tried first to create and then to develop the relations with the United States of America. As you yourselves have noticed these days, we have gained great achievements in this sphere.

The importance of the relations between the United States and Azerbaijan lies in the fact that generally, learning the Western democracy, the achievements obtained in the West both in econ­omy and policy and also in social sphere, benefiting from them and applying this experience in Azerbaijan acquires great importance in the course we have taken as an independent state. From this pent of view, the United States of America holds a special place. I consider it useful and necessary for the future of Azerbaijan to learn the Western technology, the experience, the principles, the achievements, developed in the American economy and to bring them to .Azerbaijan.

Besides all this, no doubt, the cooperation with the United States of America and the spread of this cooperation to all spheres are very important and very urgent for establishing our statehood in the international sphere, for solving the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Nagorny Garabagh conflict, the greatest problem of Azerbaijan.

The United States of America is the greatest state in the world. Under \"great\" we understand an economically developed country with high technology which has got great achievements in the development of democracy and market economy. Therefore I have always considered the relations with this country to be very useful for our present and future. And because of these reasons, I have tried to develop the relations with the United States of America since the beginning of my activity as a President.

The steps we have taken in this sphere are known. Among them I would like to point out specially my meeting with the US Presi­dent Bill Clinton in New York in 1994. It was during that meeting that personal relations between us were created and great founda­tions were laid for establishing and developing relations between our countries and nations. As you know, in 1995 I met with Presi­dent Bill Clinton for the second time in New York, we have also met at the international organizations, meetings - in Budapest, Moscow, London, Paris and in other countries. During all these meetings each time we held talks on the development of Azerbai­jani-American relations. Today I can say with pleasure that each time I felt the increasing positive attitude towards Azerbaijan, I felt the respect on the part of President Bill Clinton personally.

I have also had meetings with other US high officials. I have met with Vice-president Albert Gore several times, also with the ex-State Secretary Christopher, the present State Secretary Ms. Albright and many other officials. Many U.S. delegations, con­gressmen, senators, businessmen, representatives of companies have visited Azerbaijan. I have tried to use all the meetings effi­ciently and to bring forth step by step Azerbaijani-American rela­tions.

From this point of view, the development of our economic rela­tions helps a lot to the development of our common relations. Especially after we signed the first contracts with the big oil com­panies of the world, as well as of the U.S. in September 1994. our economic relation\'s started to develop in this sphere too. As you know, the US companies also take part in the contracts, signed later on the joint development of the Azerbaijan oil and gas fields. Also we have signed a contract with Amoco and other U.S. companies on the development of \"Dan Ulduzu\", \"Ashrafi\" oil fields.

At last, as a logical result of all this, we signed four big oil con­tracts in Washington D.C. on August 1. No doubt, these have cre­ated great opportunities for the development of our economic rela­tions. But not only these companies. As you saw during our stay in the USA, each of these contracts attracts many big world, also U.S. companies around it.

This way our economic relations with both the USA and many other world countries are developing very rapidly.

All this is the work done till our present visit and created a good basis for its success. No doubt, this visit was necessary for us. And the USA had long planned the Azerbaijani President\'s official visit to the U.S. We agreed to it too, personally I also wanted and wished it. At last this visit took place, carried out. We are already speaking about its results.

You have observed the course of the visit and taken part in all the meetings. You have witnessed that I and all those who accompanied me were working hard from the moment, we landed at Kennedy airport in New York on July 27 to the time, we took off at the airport in Chicago a few hours ago. We worked day and night, and I am very pleased that we have worked so successfully. It has been estimated that these days during the visit I\'ve had 88 meetings. To tell the truth, I never count them, estimate them. But my assistant Dilara Seyidzadeh does the estimation and reports to me from time to time.

Yes, this figure also shows how much work has been done in this period. But the matter is not in the figure. I consider that each of our meetings has been meaningful, important, has helped to develop our relations and at last we have achieved it.

These meetings almost covered all spheres of modern Ameri­can life. Firstly, we had many large meetings with the public - with the press. Today the press means the spread of everything to the society. Secondly, I had very important meetings with state figures, the US President Bill Clinton, the government members and other high officials. It is for the first time that we have been to Washing­ton D.C, to the US Congress, to the White House. We had many meetings in the US Congress, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. We visited scientific-research centers, Universi­ties. For example, as you know Georgetown University is one of the biggest US and world Universities. When one thinks that once this University was founded in 1776-77 and has survived up to now and largely contributed to the world science, politics, of course, one understands that to deliver a speech in front of the Uni­versity-members gathered there, to speak about Azerbaijan and to state the truth about Azerbaijan were of great importance.

Not only this, as you know, we have had different meetings. We met with the representatives of American business circles in every city, everywhere, as you witnessed it, not only with the business­men. This happened in New York, Washington D.C., as well as in Houston and Chicago. Alongside with the representatives of high business circles, the representatives of the state, the parliament, the public, the press as well as very respectable, well-known politi­cians were present at our meetings.

I think that the talks, held during the meetings and my speeches at the meetings, the words, I delivered to them, and presented Azerbaijan in the United States of America again. By now we have already tried to present Azerbaijan.

But I consider that these days, in this respect, we have reached to much higher level. When talking about the meetings in the U.S., I would like to speak about the meetings at the UNO in New York. This is also significant. As you know, our relations with the UNO have already been established, they are good. Our relations with the UNO started with my speech there in 1994 and then they extended. But this time I met with the UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, we had an efficient talk, at the same time I had many other meetings there. For example, meeting with the Security Council members and delivering a speech in front of them was of great importance. Or, delivering a speech in front of the ambassadors who represent all the countries at the UNO, meeting them, giving information about Azerbaijan and answering their questions was very urgent. Meeting with the journalists in the building of the UN, holding a press conference - these were also very useful for us.

But again I would like to speak about the significance of my visit to the U.S.. No doubt, its highest point was on August 1. That day we visited the White House with you, I had a meeting with President Clinton. In the White House we spent three hours and half, more time than we had planned.

I also had a face-to-face meeting with President Bill Clinton. A small part of our representatives also met with probably the same number of the U.S. representatives. And later our delegation met with the U.S. delegation. Then we had dinner together. We had talks also during the dinner party. All these hours our relations in the White House were devoted to the talks about Azerbaijan, about our problems.

I am very pleased with the results of all these negotiations, of the face to-face negotiation with President Clinton, which was sin­cere, kind and very friendly. Because I managed to bring all the problems of Azerbaijan to the notice of President Clinton, to Vice-President Gore, State Secretary Ms. Albright, the President\'s Assis­tant on National Security Mr. Berger, Ministers: Mr. Pena, Mr. Daly and other high officials.

I can say that now President Bill Clinton and his administration know all the problems of Azerbaijan very well, share our opinions, want to cooperate with Azerbaijan closely and highly appreciate their relations with Azerbaijan, want to further extend, develop them.

It is gratifying success that our talks covered all the issues: the Azerbaijani-American relations, - here we covered all the issues; the international situation and problems; the situation in the Cau­casian region, in the Central Asian region; the situation in the region, covering the Caucasus, Azerbaijan in general and the rela­tions with our neighbors. All of them were discussed. We had a very broad exchange of views on all these issues, we had a very significant dialogue.

I can point out that we were of the same opinion on the major­ity of issues. This is of great importance.

All this resulted in the joint document on the American-Azer­baijani relations, signed in the White House by President Bill Clin­ton and me, the Azerbaijani President. This acquires great signifi­cance in itself. As for its content, this shows how important the document is, and it acquires historical importance in the life of the Azerbaijani people and the Republic of Azerbaijan. And the name of the document shows it too. The document reflects the principles of further development in American-Azerbaijani relations.

You will get acquainted with the document, we\'ll publish it. I suppose that you, as well as our researchers, politicians will learn the document, analyze it and study the meaning of every word in it. But 1 want to state that. This is not the document, created within a day or an hour. The foundation of this document is the work, done by us from 1993 up to now in the sphere of our relations. This makes the basis for it. But at the same time the preparation of the document also took a lot of time and effort. Both the American and the Azerbaijani sides worked hard on it. I can tell you it is not a secret that we had been working on the document till the midnight of July 31. At last, we tried to have it translated into English so that the document was the same in both English and Azerbaijani. And this gave good results. I am very proud and happy that there already exists such a foundation which makes the basis for a new stage in American-Azerbaijani relations. We have signed it. I want to say a few words about the content of the document. Firstly, I point out again that this document defines the principles of our future relations. The document shows that the two presidents have agreed on the development of cooperation in Azerbaijani partner­ship in politics, security, economy and trade. This in itself is very significant.

The document shows clearly the issue on the peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. That is, it reflects the posi­tion of the United States and its obligations in the solution of the conflict.

According to this document, firstly, the conflict should be solved peacefully and on the basis of the principles, adopted at the OSCE summit in Lisbon. This is of great importance. Secondly, it shows that the Azerbaijani President has accepted the proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group as the basis to intensify the negotiations and it is presupposed to solve the conflict in 1997. The document says that together with Russia and France, the U.S. President will further support the peaceful solution of the conflict through the OSCE Minsk Group. The US President promised it. These are very important issues. At the same time they give us very great hopes. As you know, during our negotiations we received such state­ments on the part of the US government several times. But now these statements are reflected in the document, signed by the Azer­baijani and US Presidents.

Alongside with this, the statement also reflects very firmly the issue on the repeal of Section 907 to the Freedom Support Act. It shows that the US President considers the repeal of the Section necessary and will make his best to do it.

It is very important for us that the U.S. points out in the state­ment:

The Republic of Azerbaijan is in a new stage in the develop­ment of democracy, market economy. The Republic of Azerbaijan has advanced along this way, is advancing now and the US Presi­dent will support her in this direction. The document shows that Azerbaijan is loyal to democracy and market economy, the imple­mentation of economic reforms, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan is loyal to these principles. This is also very important for us.

The document includes very important articles, connected with the security of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It shows that the Amer­ican side is well aware of the difficulties, faced by our country in connection with the security of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The U.S. approves the joining of the Republic of Azerbaijan into the European-Atlantic Cooperation Union as well as her cooperation with this structure. As you know, together with the U.S., we signed the flanking contract on ordinary weapons in Europe on May 15.

But you know that we had also problems in this sphere. We did not want to sign it. The U.S. had appealed us in this connection. As you know, at Bill Clinton\'s request Vice-President Albert Gore had long telephone talks with me in this connection. When signing the con­tract, we agreed on the joint American - Azerbaijani statement. This statement was announced then. Now the present document mentions that statement too. It means that the statement is approved in the document, signed by the U.S. and Azerbaijani Presidents. This will be also important for us in future.

There are very important provisions on many other issues too. I say again that you will read it, you yourselves will analyze it. But the most important point is the U.S. and her President approves and supports the present social and political, economic life of Azerbai­jan, the work done by us, by the Azerbaijani president in connec­tion with the strengthening of our state, the present reality, our activities in this area. This is very gratifying. For actually in our domestic life we are building a legal democratic state, carrying out economic reforms, advancing along the way of market economy, taking a lot of measures, also implementing the wide privatization program. They have already had their results. But it is very important for us that all of them are approved and supported by the U.S. and her President. I am very happy because of all this, especially because of the provisions, reflected in the document on the peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the repeal c: Section 907, on the guarantee of the security of the Republic of Azerbaijan. I consider that our people must be happy about it and highly estimate it.

On August 1, we made a very big step forward in the sphere of the development of our economic relations. As you know, I said it in the U.S. several times - we explored the oil fields in the Caspian 50 years ago and have done great work in this sphere. For the last years we have presented the rich oil fields in the Caspian to the world. This is the merit of the Azerbaijani people before the world community. For the Caspian oil fields have attracted the attention of the entire world. Now it has roused the world interest. It is Azerbaijan which has explored and presented those fields to the world. The United States is interested in Azerbaijan very much. From this pointof view, it is very important that a special contract has been signed between the U.S. and Azerbaijan on the use of energy resources and means of transport in the Caspian and in the region of Central Asia, the Caucasus, and also the issue has found its reflection in the contract, signed by the two presidents. As you know, a special contract has been signed on this issue between our governments. The U.S. Energy Minister Mr. Pena, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed this contract.

Tine second document, signed by President Clinton and me, on the protectionof investments is of great importance too. It is not an ordinarydocument either. I suppose that our economists, politicians will analyze these documents too. Both we and the American side worked hard on this document. At last, very important articles for both parts found their reflection in the contract. Both President Bill Clinton and I signed it. Then the document, signed by us with the \'Eksimbank\' on the instigation of the investments, is highly estimated by the American side. This is very urgent too.

You have been accompanying me, therefore you know that the U.S. Defense Minister and I had a meeting, a very important nego­tiation. We signed a contract on cooperation in this area too. The signed contracts create the legal normative basis for the Azerbai­jani relations. Until now we didn\'t have such legal normative doc­uments. We not only signed these documents, but also created a very big basis.

At last, the signing of oil contracts in the White House is also a historical event. Firstly, this displays the further extension of eco­nomic relations between the United States of America and Azer­baijan. Secondly, the signing of those contracts in the White House gives a special significance to it. We signed the first oil contracts in Azerbaijan. Then an oil contract was signed with the participa­tion of the French President Jacque Chirac and me in Yelisey Palace, Paris. Another contract was signed with the participation of the Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev in the Kremlin, Moscow. At last four contracts were signed in the White House with the companies: Chevron, Exxon, Mobil and Amoco. Each of them is of great economic nature, will have a lot of economic advantages for both the U.S. and Azerbai­jan. But these four contracts acquire together such a great signifi­cance that it has already shattered the whole world. You know it.

There has not been an experience of signing oil contracts in the White House before. As you know, each of these oil companies was founded 100-150 years ago. For example, the president of Chevron Mr. Matske told me during our negotiations: \"I thank you, for I saw the White House.\" When I wondered if any of the many oil contracts, they had signed, ever took place in the White House, he answered that they could not even think of it, let alone the sign­ing of a contract; it was his first visit to the White House. The Pres­idents of Exxon, Mobil, and AMOCO told me the same words. This is not a coincidence. This displays a special attitude of the United States toward Azerbaijan, shows that the U.S. gives a special importance to the cooperation with Azerbaijan, points out the spe­cial part Azerbaijan plays in the Caspian sector in our region.

In the ceremony of signing these contracts, the US Vice-Presi­dent Albert Gore made a very nice speech. You have already heard the speeches, I delivered during the signing ceremony of oil con­tracts. It may have an ordinary nature now. The French President Jacques Chirac made a speech in Yelisey, Paris; the Russian Pres­ident Boris Yeltsin made a speech in the Kremlin, Moscow. Here in the White House the US Vice-President Albert Gore made a speech. The leading members of the U.S. government took part in the signing ceremony of these contracts.

Alongside with Mr. Albert Gore, the State Secretary Mrs. Albright, the Minister of Energy Mr. Pena, the Minister of Com­merce Mr. Daly, the President\'s Assistant on the National Security Council Mr. Berger and other high officials were participating in the signing ceremony of these documents. All of them are signifi­cant historical events. This event should be and will be written in Azerbaijani history.

I want to emphasize President Clinton\'s speech after we signed the documents, to sum up all this - my meetings in the White House, my speeches, the signed documents. You were present there and saw that President Clinton\'s speech was very interesting, significant, rich in deep political thoughts, showing a very friendly attitude towards Azerbaijan. I am proud of it.

It wouldn\'t be all right for me to speak about my own speeches. Perhaps you see, know and hear them. These are not new for you. But it is a new event for us that President Bill Clinton personally made a speech on Azerbaijan, not only on the signed document. It is a very big historical event.

I consider that we had very fruitful meetings with the American elite in the United States of America - in New York, Washington D.C. Houston, Chicago. For example, I would like to remind you of the meeting, held in in the hall of the National State Museum in Washington D.C. The top political figures, representatives of busi­ness circles, representatives of financial centers, of the press were taking part there. You yourselves were there and saw what a sig­nificant event it was. Also in Houston the whole elite of the city were present. Or in Chicago most of the state leaders of the world countries delivered speeches in the hall of the Central American club. There they told me that the ex-President of the former Soviet Union Mr. Gorbachov had made a speech there once, when he vis­ited America. The state leaders of great powers made speeches there too.

The Prime Minister of Russia Victor Chernomyrdin had visited the U.S. before us. As you know there is a joint Russian-American commission. Victor Chernomyrdin and Albert Gore are the chair­persons of the commission. Both of them had visited Chicago and made speeches in that hall. I, together with you, have been to the same hall and made a speech there. We do not say anything good or bad about anybody\'s speech. But I can say that the Azerbaijani President\'s speech at the banquets, meetings have been accepted very positively and highly estimated by the American Society. It has already been reflected in the press.

It is gratifying that about two months before my visit to the U.S. a lot of favorable articles on Azerbaijan started to appear in America. But during this visit I had no time to read the articles, just written. My assistants, especially Raouf gives me brief infor­mation about these articles every morning. I am going to read these articles later. They are in tens - a hundred or two hundred. It is most gratifying that the articles are published in different newspapers. All the newspapers, published in New York, Washington D.C, Houston, and Chicago and in other cities, estimate our visit to their country and disseminate a positive attitude towards Azerbaijan. You see what great changes have taken place in the American soci­ety and press in relation to our country.

You are aware of my special attention and care towards the press. In New York, Washington D.C, Houston, Chicago I met with the editorial staffs, the leaders and the representatives of dif­ferent newspapers and answered their questions. I have never hes­itated to answer any questions.. They noticed it in America too. They already knew that the Azerbaijani President is ready to answer any question, even to the ill- intentioned ones. Yes, it is necessary to answer the ill-intentioned questions, too. For it is nec­essary to explain things to those malevolent people too. But it is gratifying that there were no such ill-intentioned questions or were very few.

I would like to mention one more fact. When my official visit to U.S. was announced, the Armenians in America - not only the Armenians who live in the U.S., but also those in Armenia - first tried to have this visit annulled. It was not possible. They sent a lot of letters to President Bill Clinton, arranged a big propaganda. When I met with President Bill Clinton in Madrid on July 8-9, he himself told me, \"I am looking forward to your visit, come soon.\" He repeated it several times. He also stated, \"My Armenian friends are against it, they have appealed to me. But I don\'t accept any of them. I am looking forward to your visit soon.\" I am citing his words.

But the Armenians were carrying out their activities. They wrote so much information, published and distributed so many leaflets. They prepared and distributed 50 thousand postcards and then increased this number to 150 thousand. You see, what kind of leaflets they made, the Armenians prepared all of them against me.

Firstly, the Armenians tried to prevent our visit, secondly to stain and hinder it. But they failed. They can do nothing.

Besides, you have seen a lot of articles with the Azerbaijani President\'s portraits in the American press. Also Washington Post, Wall Street Journal published the panorama of Baku with the por­trait of the Azerbaijani President, entitling the whole page with the words\" You Are Welcome to the U.S., Azerbaijani President!\" It means in U.S. we have not only enemies like Armenians, but also such friends. This is not coincidence. This is the result of our work in recent years. See, Raouf has collected this pile of newspapers. These newspapers have published a great deal of articles about Azerbaijan, about my visit to the U.S.

As you know, when we were in the U.S., the Armenians got together several times. Some of you have visited them. They were all hired people there. But we should not forget this danger either. The Armenian lobby\'s hostile attitude to us in America is a con­stant threat for us. Some people say to me and I am also of the opinion that the Armenians in the U.S. are much more extremists than those in Armenia. Most of the Armenians in Armenia want peace. But the American Armenians do not know what the people suffer in Armenia. They are enjoying the life here, but try to destroy both Armenia and our region. But we rejoice that all these efforts failed. Our visit ended in success.

I am very glad. I consider that you are of the same opinion too. We are returning home very proudly. I consider that I have decently fulfilled the mandate, given to me by the people, the nation, Azerbaijan. There are some people, both in opposition and among us, who have run away from Azerbaijan to the U.S. When they do not find anything negative in our activities, they try to invent faults.

They also see that we have already everything: Azerbaijan is independent, protects its independence, the people in our country live peacefully, the social and political situation is being stabilized, we have ceased the war, there are no martyrs, there is no bloodshed, and life is developing. The man who sees all this should be only ungrateful not to estimate it. They say here or there that the reforms, privatization are not implemented, the economy is ruined, destroyed, is in the state of calamity, is unlucky and so on, so forth.

Now Raouf has handed these documents to me. The GP Morgan Bank has prepared the data of Azerbaijan. When I met with the leaders of financial centers in New York, the President of GP Morgan made a speech. I said, \"I don\'t want to make a speech because you have said everything.\" He not only spoke, but also had prepared all the information about Azerbaijan: how the reforms, privatization are implemented in Azerbaijan. All has been written there. This is a good answer to them. I don\'t want to answer them.

We went to the World Bank too. During our talk the World Bank President Wolfinson said to me, \"You work so well that I am ready to give a twofold credit to Azerbaijan.\" I wanted to talk to him about Azerbaijani data. He said, \"You needn\'t to say, I know all about it\". He expressed a very good idea. He said, \"We\'ll give you credits further on too, let us agree on the distribution of $5-10 million from each credit for the development of culture and education. I accepted the idea with great pleasure. For the credits, given to us until now have been mainly for the economy. It is a very good idea. I supported this idea and we\'ll sure do it in the future.

The U.S. has big political and economic interests in Azerbaijan. It has been said in America several times that for the U.S. Azerbaijan is a country of special significance. They attach a special significance to the cooperation with Azerbaijan. There is a positive attitude towards Azerbaijan in the U.S. today. What I mean is while in the past the majority of the people in the United States of America showed a negative attitude towards Azerbaijan, the result of our policy in recent years and its highest point consist of the fact that we have completely changed the attitude. Anyway, we have changed all of this in the state organs, the press, the Congress, gov­ernment organs, in business circles, in the financial centers.

I want to speak about my grandson too. You know that while I am paying this very responsible, official visit, which is of great importance for Azerbaijan, a great event happened in my own life too. My grandson was born, that is a son was born to my favorite son Ilham. We got this news in Houston on August 2, I was happy too. What is gratifying for me is the fact that everyone whom I met in the United States of America congratulated me. We even went to the medical center in Houston, it was also very significant, -those who have visited the place, know it. The center, which is in Houston, is the greatest achievement in the world medicine. As soon as a famous person, a great scientist Dr. Debakey met me there, he congratulated me on the birth of my grandson. All were congratulating me. This is also gratifying for me. Any of you can feel it in your own life. Somebody has a child or is expecting to have one. Somebody has a grandchild or is expecting to have one. Taking into consideration the fact that I am making a speech for TV and this will be released on Azerbaijani TV, in connection with the birth of my grandchild, I wish the same kind of happiness to the whole Azerbaijani people, to each Azerbaijani citizen. 

The document was taken from the edition \"Together towards the New Century\"