Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the official reception in honour of the national holiday of Israel - May 11, 2000

Distinguished Mr. Ambassador!

Esteemed ladies and gentlemen!

I heartily congratulate you on the national holiday of Israeli people, on the 52nd anniversary of the creation of Israeli state. I wish peace and happiness to you and to all the citizens of Israel.

The creation of Israeli state 52 years ago was a great event in the world. The existence of Israeli state in the last years, its development and the creation of the country, after centuries-old hardships of Jewish people, demonstrated how important this event, that is, the event that took place 52 years ago, was for the Jews and all the humanity.

We know it and the esteemed ambassador has correctly noted here that the creation of Israeli state proceeded under hard conditions. But it was not easy for this state to reach its present level either. It demonstrates once more that every nation in the world wants to be free and independent, wants to live freely in its own lands, own motherland. The Jewish people have been deprived of this opportunity for centuries. But they never forgot their national peculiarities, their traditions and never lost hope to obtain their own independent state.

In connection with the formation of Israeli state in the Middle East and different processes that went on afterwards, military conflicts broke out, wars were waged, and blood was shed. But Israel managed to keep its independence and gradually these conflicts have become slower.

In Azerbaijan we regard Israeli state as a friendly state and Jewish nation as a friendly nation. At the same time the Arabic countries neighboring with Israel are our friends too. We would very much like the conflict between Israel and the Middle East to come to an end and peace to be established between Israel and all the Arabic countries around it. There is an excellent model to this. 20 years ago peace agreement was signed between Egypt and Israel and after that between Israel and Jordan. We want Israel to keep its independence in that region, we want it to strengthen and develop it further. At the same time, we want both Arabs and Palestinians to achieve their desires and expectations, we want them to be able to gain the right to live independently in their own lands and create their independent state.

It may be said that the Jewish nation is the one that suffered most of all in the world and went through tremendous genocides. The Second World War, German fascism brought tragedy to many countries of the world. But the Jews underwent the biggest tragedy.

But these losses, savageries and vandalism perpetrated towards the Jews did not at least break their will. They created their own state and outside their country they occupy a prominent place in the development of science, culture and economics in the world.

The friendship existing between Azerbaijan and Israel has deep roots. The Jews have lived as equal people in Azerbaijan for centuries. The Azerbaijanis have never considered them the representatives of some foreign nation. Our people will never forget that since the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century the Jews living in Azerbaijan have had great services in the development of Azerbaijani science, culture, public health, economics and industry and left their lasting imprints.

All this became possible thanks to the fact that Azerbaijani nation is a peaceful one. Azerbaijani nation is not the one that will ever have bad intentions or show negative attitude to any nation.

Just for this reason the Jews have freely lived in Azerbaijan for centuries, set up their lives, worked in all areas of life of Azerbaijan and took an active part in its development. Nowadays the Jews also live as equal citizens of Azerbaijan in our independent state. They live here as if it was their own country, their motherland.

After Azerbaijan gained its independence, the interstate relations between our country and Israel have continually developed. Many representatives of Israeli government, were on official visits to Azerbaijan, and we held a lot of business meetings. We held consultations on the development of interstate, intergovernmental relations, and took necessary measures. In 1997 the Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Netanyahu made a short visit to Azerbaijan, we received him. We had fundamental talks and naturally these talks were devoted to the development of Israel-Azerbaijan relations.

Last year in November I had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak at the OSCE summit meeting in Istanbul. We held very productive talks and conducted useful exchange of opinions on the development of Israel-Azerbaijan relations.

Attaching special importance to Azerbaijan-Israel relations, I have always held meetings with the heads of Israeli government in international organizations. Also I had meetings with former Prime Minister when the summits of international organizations were held in the United States of America and in other countries.

In 1997 when I made an official visit to the United States of America, a high-level conference of Jewish organizations, all Jewish communities of America was assembled in New-York. We held a very important meeting and had talks. Later some of them came to Azerbaijan. During all these meetings and talks they all claimed to support the position of Azerbaijan, especially the position of our country in solving the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, the problem of Nagorno Karabakh, and I can say today that they have always assisted us.

These facts distinctly demonstrate the presence of friendly relations between Israel and Azerbaijan, between Azerbaijan and the Jews all over the world. We want these relations to develop in future as well, we take necessary measures for this and will do so in future. I hope that Israel-Azerbaijan relations will gradually expand and both sides will benefit from them.

The Ambassador Mr. Milman has stated here that his competency as an Ambassador in Azerbaijan has come to an end and he is leaving Azerbaijan in a few weeks. On this occasion, I can say that I feel sorry for this. Because the Ambassador Mr. Milman has done a lot for the development, enlargement of Israel-Azerbaijan relations during these three years. Naturally, he has been of great service to his country and has also been helpful to Azerbaijan in the development of Israel-Azerbaijan relations.

Mr. Milman, I thank you for these great services and wish you new success in your future work.

Once more I congratulate you on this holiday, wish success to Israeli state, Israeli people in the way of independence, in solving hard problems standing on their way. I wish happiness to Israeli people. Thank you.

Translated from "Azerbaijan" newspaper, May 12, 2000.

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