Joint press conference of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and the Prime Minister of Belgium Jan Lyuk Deen - April 13, 1998

Dear Prime Minister of the government of the Kingdom of Belgium!

Dear guests!

Dear representatives of mass media, ladies and gentlemen!

Today the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Belgium for the first time has arrived with official visit to Azerbaijan. We have already carried on very detailed and very substantial negotiations. The main part of the negotiations was held tete-a-tete between esteemed prime minister and me. At the same time, we have continued the negotiations with the participants of a delegation, and during these negotiations we touched on the main issues between Belgium and Azerbaijan. As a result of these negotiations, I think that the first visit of the prime minister of the Kingdom of Belgium to Azerbaijan is a significant event in the contacts between our countries. I think that the negotiations, meetings and documents signed by us, open very large opportunities for the further development of Belgium-Azerbaijan contacts.

Azerbaijan attaches a particular significance to the contacts with Belgium. Belgium is one of the developed countries of Europe in all spheres. We are interested in high economic activities in Belgium and that Belgium is a democratic country as a part of Europe. Belgium is known as a country - bearer of democratic principles. Belgium takes up a special place in all questions relating to Europe. This is why we want to henceforth develop the relations with Belgium. For this reason, the prime minister of the government of the Kingdom of Belgium arrived to Azerbaijan with the official visit at my invitation. We have conducted very productive negotiations and for the first the documents were concluded between Belgium and Azerbaijan.

I especially estimate the declaration signed by the prime minister of the Kingdom of Belgium and the President of Azerbaijan. Because this statement is a main political document directed to the future development of contacts between our countries. Today we have came to a conclusion that there are large opportunities for the cooperation between Belgium and Azerbaijan in all directions - in the economy, culture, science and technology. We must establish the normative-legal basis to use these opportunities with a benefit for both countries. The documents signed by us today are the first steps in this direction. I am sure that our cooperation will develop day by day and will shape to the friendly and partnership relations between Belgium and Azerbaijan.

It is known, that in April 1994, we signed an agreement on partnership with the European Union. We signed the program with NATO "Partnership for peace" in 1995. We are active participants of the TASIS and TRACECA programmes realized by the European Union. We are engaged in reconstruction of the ancient "Silk Road" and creation of Eurasian transport main line jointly with the European Union. We cooperate with Council of Europe, and as a result of this cooperation, we intend to be the full member of the Council of Europe. All these demand for a more close cooperation of the European countries with Azerbaijan. The cooperation of Belgium with Azerbaijan from this point of view is very important. The weighty part of our economic cooperation is a joint extraction of oil deposit in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian sea by the Belgium company "Petrofin". We can expand our cooperation in this sphere.

So, today laying the foundation to the Belgium-Azerbaijan cooperation, I cherish the hope for a beautiful future. For this aim, I give the floor to our esteemed guests, the prime minister of Belgium.

(Then there were given answers to the questions of journalists).

Question: My first question is to Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium. How much is true the information about the official announcement of the genocide day of Armenians in Belgium of April 24? What influence will it exert to the Azerbaijani-Belgium relations? Thanks in advance.

The second question is to President of Azerbaijan. Mr. President, the question of admission of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe is already on the agenda. Is it possible a more close integration of Azerbaijan to Europe and entering the European Union and NATO in the future? Thank you.

Jan Lyuk Dean: I think that this will not exert any influence to the Belgium-Azerbaijan relations.

Heydar Aliyev: Much work has been done for admission of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe and we cooperate very productively with the Council of Europe. The community of our republic know that the representatives of high rank of the Council of Europe have been in Azerbaijan repeatedly and they have determined the conformity of the laws of the country with the European Union. I think as a result of this, Azerbaijan can be the full member of the Council of Europe in forthcoming days.

I have just noted that in April of 1996 Azerbaijan has signed an agreement on cooperation with the European Union and we cooperate very productively for the last period. It yielded very good results. The people of our republic knows about it and our information agencies write about it in details. I do not intend to go in details about it, but I would like to note, that in connection with the restoration of the ancient "Silk Road", we have decided to hold the meeting of representatives of 39 countries located on the "Silk Road" together with the European Union at the beginning of June in Azerbaijan.

And after signing with NATO the program of "Partnership for peace", we still continue our cooperation. The work necessary within the framework of this program has been done. And I appreciate all this positively. Thank you.

Question: Mr. Prime Minister, as known you should visit Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan after Baku on your route. Can we conclude that Belgium is interested in Eurasian transport corridor as economically attractive? If so, do you intend to be an active participant here? The second question: To which field does Brussels give preference after the oil?

Jan Lyuk Deal: First of all, the visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is due to the fact that Belgium realizes the strategic importance of the countries situated on both sides of the Caspian. The government of Belgium gives very great value to the strategic importance and stability of these countries and their economic development. But in order to achieve the stability and economic development of this region, undoubtedly, as marked the President, the development of the transport and communication infrastructure is very important. The restoration of "Silk Road" is very important for the development of region, and Belgium intends to make a benefit of this.

About the second question. We are interested in energy sector generally. Besides it, our companies show interest to other spheres. For example, we have very powerful companies with large opportunities in the sphere of electronic and gas industry. They want to cooperate widely with Azerbaijan. Our economic mission was in Baku last year, and estimated our economic interests and studied new opportunities.

Question: Dear President, confiding the freedom of speech and democracy in our republic, I want to say some words which may not concern today`s press conference. In 1990, that is to say on the time when You were in blockade by the organs of mass media of Moscow and Azerbaijan, I arrived in Nakhchivan. I met with You there and we had a talk for three hours. I asked You the questions which had troubled me and the community. You disclosed some questions in that historical interview connected with the problems of Heydar Aliyev and Azerbaijan nation`s life, hardships and reality. Now You are a President. I ask You, may be it is inconvenient, but I am as a journalist who has run a blockade first, I would like to get an interview from You. I want again to ask You questions which trouble the intelligentsia, and the community. Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev: This question has nothing to do with the Belgium-Azerbaijan contacts. Therefore, let`s not take time of our guests. If you would like to get an interview please, come, I will give you an interview. I am always ready to give an interview from morning till night. My talks are interview altogether. All right, I will give you an interview.

Question: My question is relevant to Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister. The President in his speech said that the democracy in Azerbaijan develops rapidly. How do you think, does the democracy in Azerbaijan give the basis to consider that Azerbaijan is close to the European standards in order to be the member of the Council of Europe?

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, the democracy in Azerbaijan develops. As a democratic country, Azerbaijan is young. Azerbaijan gained the state independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and has passed very heavy, difficult and complicated way for the last years. However, this way was heavy, but it leads Azerbaijan to democracy. We have done a lot of work for the construction of democratic, legal, secular state in Azerbaijan, but this process continues. I cannot to say that now Azerbaijan has reached the level of democratically developed countries of Europe. It is simply impossible. It requires time for it. But there is a democracy in Azerbaijan on the level of the Eastern European countries, including the countries of the former Soviet Union. Therefore, we have the right to be the full member of the Council of Europe. Thank you.

Jan Lyuk Dean: The most important is the fact that there are reforms being carried out in Azerbaijan, they are on the right way. The political and economic reforms continue. As said the President, the process of democracy is always in the development and continues. The Belgium party encourages this process, supports all efforts of Azerbaijan. It is very important that Azerbaijan has signed the necessary documents with the European Union and NATO. I think that the signing of these documents will exert positive influence on the realization of the common process. During the conference of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Azerbaijan participated there as an observer. I am absolutely confident that the process of democratization in Azerbaijan will continue, it will be the full member of the Council of Europe and this will happen sooner.

Question: Dear Prime-Minister, since the question connected with Armenia is very delicate issue in our region, I want to more accurate define the question on the decision adopted by your parliament about the genocide of Armenians. Asking you this question, I address to you not only as a journalist, but as a man of science. I am a doctor of science, and the author of a number of works, concerning that period. Different from the armenian propaganda, Turkey and the science of historiography have absolutely another opinion about the armenian genocide. What was the necessity for the parliament of Belgium to adopt a resolution on the genocide of Armenians? On the same day, the parliament of Azerbaijan adopted resolution about the genocide of azerbaijanis by the armenians. In the case if Belgium parliament is specialized in reaching of decisions of genocide, can we hope that in the next stage of the development of our contacts in the future, your parliament will adopt a resolution on the genocide of Azerbaijanis by the Armenian? Thank you.

Answer: The matter is that, this resolution was adopted by the parliament of Belgium. May be the terminology is used here in the wrong way. But the government of Belgium does not share this position, and I think that it will not influence on the intergovernmental relations.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, April 15, 1998.