From talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev while receiving the Russian Federation Defense Minister of the Russian Federation, Marshal Igor Sergeyev - Presidential palace, December 26, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Minister, Mr. Marshal, distinguished Igor Dmytriyevitch, I welcome you and the persons who accompany you!

I am very glad to meet you, and unfortunately I have to say that a Russian Defense Minister has not visited Azerbaijan a long time. I don`t remember well, but if I am not mistaken, last time Igor Radionov was here in 1996. He was minister of defense not long ago, so I don`t remember him well. I remember Gratchev`s visit here in 1996. Thank God that you arrived at last. I invited you many times, our Ministry of Defense did the same. Maybe you had no time. In brief, I am very happy that you have arrived. I am greeting you and consider your visit important for the development of relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

You arrived yesterday and the Minister of Defense informed me that you had enough fruitful talks. You met with the Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker, and here we are meeting now.

Though you have not been here for a long time, you arrived before the official visit of the President of the Russian Federation esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin here. By the way, it will be his first visit to Azerbaijan. I expect this meeting and I think that it is more important for the development of our relations. So, I am very happy to greet you here.

Igor Sergeyev: Distinguished Mr. President, thank you for giving me an opportunity to visit Azerbaijan at the invitation of the Defense Minister.

We held enough constructive negotiations yesterday, and as a result of it, signed two important documents which was the next step in the direction of strengthening our cooperation. They created conditions for this cooperation. One document is the plan of the military cooperation for 2001, and it gives an opportunity to enlarge the cooperation and deepen it. The second one is an agreement on the education of the Azerbaijani officers in the Russian higher military schools. It lays the foundations for the future cooperation. We openly and frankly discussed the accumulated problems and declared our will to resolve them.

Distinguished Mr. President, we will resolve a part of these problems with your assistance. We have firm intention, desire and will in the framework of our responsibility to do everything possible not to have problems during the high-level meeting of the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan. We will do our best for it.

We met the Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker and discussed the issues which interested us. I think these problems are understandable and there is certainly a will to solve them on the basis of mutual benefit, and for the sake of raising military capacity and ensuring the security of our countries.

Baku impressed me greatly, it is a very beautiful city. I am in Azerbaijan for the first time. Distinguished Heydar Aliyevitch, I was greatly impressed by your speech when you toasted at the party in Minsk. I firmly memorized the whole specter of Your attitude to Russia`s role in the future. It was an excellent speech. Thank you very much for this. I am under impression of your speech. I think our Presidents will create necessary conditions for a new meeting in the third millennium. We are hopeful and very optimistic about the future. Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. It is remarkable that the new Russian President will pay his first visit to Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 21st century and third millennium. If we have a reason to be displeased that such a visit has not been realized so far, we can console ourself that the Russian President is going to pay his first official visit to Azerbaijan in the 21st century.

You recalled our meeting and my speech in Minsk, I was sincere in my speech. Second, these words were coming from will of strengthening the mutual relations between Azerbaijan and Russia and from increasing the efficiency of CIS. Great positive changes have taken place in the life of the Russian Federation after Vladimir Valdimirovitch Putin`s election President of Russia, from the point of view of state building, military reforms, and foreign policy and in its attitude to the CIS members. I expressed my ideas clearly then, and as well as now. We are at the beginning of a stage which gives us great hopes. From this point of view, your visit certainly is of great importance. Especially President Putin`s visit will be very important. However, we have to do a lot to resolve the unsettled issues and existing problems. Unfortunately, there are problems accumulated problems and they concern us and you as well. That is why, we must not let them to be accumulated more. Naturally, relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are being established under completely new conditions, because both countries are independent states for some years. That is not an easy way, so it is neseccary to remove some hardships, problems and complicated issues.

I think we can talk with you about all of this, and in any case about military cooperation too. Although I was told that you held meetings today and yesterday and had discussed a number of issues.

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