Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the ambassadors of foreign countries, whose residences are in Ankara and accredited in the Azerbaijan Republic - May 5, 1997

Dear ambassadors, dear sirs!

I welcome you. I would like to express my great satisfaction for this the short meeting with you. You know that today in the morning I arrived here on an official visit and negotiations are carried on all day long. We remained behind the program a little. Therefore, I was a bit late for the meeting with you. At the same time, a new program will begin in 25 minutes.

It is quite advantageous for us that being ambassadors in Turkey, at the same time you represent your countries in Azerbaijan. Because, there are very close friendly and brotherly relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Turkey is a very close country for us and the distance between our countries is short. Therefore, staying here and carry out ambassadorial activity in Azerbaijan is undoubtedly, better than in other countries. At the same time, we would like you to come to Azerbaijan more often, to be constantly interested in the development in Azerbaijan to receive the information about our country yourselves and always inform your states about it. Because we wish to have very close contacts with your countries and the role of the ambassador is great in maintaining of these relations. There is no our embassy in your countries, therefore you should be both ambassadors of your countries in Azerbaijan, and also ambassadors of Azerbaijan in your countries. Anyway, I wish it and I hope that you will realize my wish.

Probably, you are aware of present situation in Azerbaijan. First of all, internal political stability has been provided. You know that in the last years Azerbaijan experienced extremely difficult processes from the viewpoint of internal stability. Nowadays, the state bodies function normally, the process of construction of a democratic legal state is being carried out in Azerbaijan. The Parliament of Azerbaijan operates constantly and bodies of local authorities perform their duty.

Within the three months of the current year, some positive results have been achieved in the economy of our country. You know that inflation has completely been prevented and now there is no inflation in Azerbaijan. The value of our national currency, the manat has gained strength and grown 10 percent regarding dollar in comparison with the last year. The state budget has been completed for these three months. We think that it will be executed up to the end of the year as well.

There are certain promotions in manufacture and in economy. If the last years the level of production was constantly falling, now recession has been stopped and certain growth is reached. I think that this positive tendency will grow in 1997 too. Economic reforms are systematically carried out. Azerbaijan builds its economy on the basis of market economy principles. The program of privatization is practically realized, reforms in the agrarian sector are carried out, and in some cases we feel their positive results. You know that we have adopted very serious law "On the land reform" which is already carried out. The land is submitted to a private property. This law is being implemented.

The process of liberalization in foreign trade is underway. As a whole, the economy in Azerbaijan has been liberalized, and the process of providing ample opportunities for business exists. We consider that some positive results and the tendency in economy are connected with realization of these economic reforms and privatization.

You know that the multi-party system, freedom of press, and speech has been established. However, the biggest problem, which worries our country, is the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, in which we could not reach the desirable results yet. After a week, three years of achievement of the agreement on cease-fire regime by us will end. There are no military operations for three years, negotiations are carried on for the peace settlement of the problem. From this viewpoint, the document accepted in OSCE Lisbon Summit in December last year, assumes great importance. You know that the document on principles of peace settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict concerning the Upper Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) was adopted in Lisbon Summit. Now the Minsk group, established for the resolution of this problem, has three co-chairmen which are Russia, the United States of America and France. We cherish great hope that involvement of three large states in the settlement of this problem and determination of principles of peace talks in Lisbon summit will advance peace process in 1997.

But there are many factors impeding it. You know that the fact of secret transfer of a plenty of the weapons from Russia to Armenia within three years has been revealed for last two months. Now it is absolutely certain and appropriate bodies of Russia have also declared that the heavy weapons at a cost of 1 billion dollars have been transferred illegally, secretly from Russia to Armenia within last three years. Among these weapons there are also a plenty of modern tanks, guns and long-range missiles. Transfer of such quantity of the weapon to Armenia by Russia is so surprising and at the same time dangerous not only to Azerbaijan, the Caucasian region, but also to all region, including Turkey. We have asked the leadership of Russia, personally President Boris Yeltsin, to whom I have sent letters, to deal with this matter. And at my personal meeting with him on March 29, I told him that Russia has to take serious measures concerning this question. Our requirement is that the weapons, transferred to Armenia, should be returned back and similar cases should not be repeated in the future. In fact, the parliament of Russia has accepted the decision related to it. But there is no concrete result yet. Investigation of this issue is conducted in Moscow, but there is no doubt that the weapons have been transferred, and there are documents to prove it.

Once again I emphasize that all these worry us and certainly, impede carrying out peace talks.

Despite it, Azerbaijan continues to take a position of the peace settlement of the problem. Today, once again I declare you that a cease-fire regime will be protected and observed, till the peace settlement of this problem and a big peace treaty is concluded.

Today we have carried on wide negotiations with the Turkish president, the prime minister, his deputy and other persons on the Turkish-Azerbaijani contacts. We are rather satisfied with these negotiations. Relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan develop day by day. Today we signed extremely valuable eight contracts on the further development of these relations. One of them is on deepening strategic cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan which was signed by presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan. There will be our meetings and negotiations in Turkey as well as in forthcoming days. I attach special significance to my official visit to Turkey.

Once again I welcome you and I ask you to make even more efforts for development of relations between Azerbaijan and your countries. Thank you.