Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the Summit devoted to the 50th anniversary Jubilee of NATO- April 26, 1999

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Esteemed Mr. Chairman!

Ladies and gentlemen!

Allow me to congratulate heartily the heads of the member states and governments, the governing body of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on the occasion of the 50th anniversary jubilee of NATO.

We highly appreciate the great role of NATO in ensuring peace and stability in the world and consider it the most significant tool of security in the whole Europe.

After the collapse of the socialist system and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, a completely new situation has emerged on the threshold of XXI century. Democracy and freedom, protection of human rights are becoming the highest ideal of many countries and nations of the world. The Republic of Azerbaijan, which possesses great natural and energy resources and occupies a rare geographical and strategic position in the intersection of Europe and Asia, has taken the road of building a democratic state based on the market economy and complete integration to the world community. The unanimity of goals and ideals has become a solid foundation for the development of broad cooperation among Azerbaijan, USA and the partners in Europe.

On the other hand, the collapse of the totalitarian regimes has resulted in armed conflicts, separatism and ethnic cleansing causing death and mis­fortunes for millions of people, endangered peace and stability in various regions of the planet.

The Azerbaijani people have experienced all these horrors in the recent ten years.

As a consequence of the groundless territorial claims of the neighboring Armenia against Azerbaijan and its military aggression, about twenty per cent of our territory has been occupied, over a million of our compatriots have been subjected to ethnic cleansing and become refugees and internally displaced persons.

We make every effort to settle the conflict with Armenia peacefully in the shortest period and cherish great hopes in the activities of the Minsk Group of OSCE and its co-chairs in the person of Russia, USA and France. We think that the delivery of arms illegally to one of the sides of the con­flict and the attempts of rapid armament in the region are inadmissible.

We support the immediate solution of all the existing conflicts in the post-soviet space and in Yugoslavia peacefully, the cease of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and the return of the civilians to their homes. The world community must adequately respond to raging ethnic irreconcilability and separatism.

We attach great importance to the cooperation with NATO in the frames of 'Partnership for Peace' program on our part and we shall do our best in future to deepen the relations of Azerbaijan with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We welcome the new concept of strategy of NATO proposed at the Washington summit.

I congratulate the presidents of Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic on the occasion of the admission of their countries to NATO. Undoubtedly, admission of new members to the organization will help the security and stability in the whole Euro-Atlantic space, including the region of the Caucasus.

I wish many new successes in the implementation of the noble mission of NATO in ensuring peace, security and stability, in the realization of the highest ideals of mankind. Thank you for attention.