From the conversation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the delegation headed by the Secretary of State of the USA Strobe Talbott – October 26, 1999

Heydar Aliyev: “Mr. Talbott, dear guests, members of the delegation of the United States of America, I cordially greet you and highly appreciate your visit to Azerbaijan.

Remember that you were last in Azerbaijan in 1993, when our country suffered great hardships. On those days I was the chairman of the parliament of Azerbaijan and was exercising the authorities of the President of Azerbaijan. You came to Azerbaijan, and we had a short meeting. Then you came here and left Azerbaijan in few hours; as you are doing it know.

Then, we met in the USA and at the international organizations a few times. I remember our meetings with you at the Lisbon Summit of OSCE particularly. I remember that we had a meeting with you several times, in the critical period of adoption of the final document of the Lisbon Summit of OSCE. We had a meeting with Mr. Albert Gore and you, we found a solution together.

I want to say that the relations of Azerbaijan with you are constant.  We value your services in the development of relations between the USA and Azerbaijan. Especially, I appreciate the efforts and works done by you in the case of solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, the Mountainous Garabagh conflict peacefully.

It is true that after the Lisbon Summit, when due to our request the USA became the chairman of the Minsk Group, we could not see any progress in the activity of the Minsk Group. But at the same time, our activity is going on. The delegation headed by Mr. Sestanovich, Mr. Cavano and others visited Azerbaijan several days ago.  I hope that we can have a wide exchange of views dealing with the solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, the Mountainous Garabagh conflict peacefully.

I know the distance between the USA and Azerbaijan is long. You were in-flight for several hours. Perhaps you are tired. I have been working since morning, and perhaps I am tired, too.  But I see you are not tired, and I do not feel exhausted as well.  I suppose, we shall be able to hold comprehensive negotiations. Thank you.”

Strobe Talbott: “Mr. President, I would like to express my gratitude to you for receiving me and my colleagues, though it is too late. None of us, the people sitting at this side of the table are strangers in Baku. Personally, I am pleased to have an opportunity to visit Baku once more.

Mr. President, before I answer to your warm words about myself, let me convey you the personal, sincerest greetings of President Clinton and pleasant wishes of the Secretary of State Mrs. Albright which still sound in my ears.

They both highly appreciate their personal relations and cooperation with you in time of work. After your historical visit to the USA in 1997, both the President and the Secretary of State constantly are thinking about the ways of extending their activity on intensifying and strengthening the relations between Azerbaijan and the USA in various fields.

You were right to state and I agree with you that we shall have an opportunity to exchange views on several issues which we touched upon at both meetings of our presidents held in Lisbon and Washington which I personally attended and which you mentioned here today. I hope that we shall have a comprehensive exchange of views on energy issues, on the development of economic relations, especially on the works concerning Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. We shall have a talk on strengthening the political institutions which may contribute to international unity in future with the lapse of time which include both Azerbaijan and the USA.

Mr. President, it goes without saying that we shall speak about the establishment of peace in the region, about the steps taken for the peaceful solution of the conflict, establishment of stability and security in region which may lead to the improvement of life standards of the peoples of the region and solution of the issues existing in the region, and contribute to the development as well.

As a chairman representing the USA in the Minsk Group I took an active part in the joint efforts taken for establishing peace in this region with the personal errands of President Clinton and Secretary of State Mrs. Albright. By sending me here, they wanted me to have an exchange of views with you in order to get acquainted with your opinion about the opportunities on the new, alternative steps to be taken for the solution of this conflict and convey these views to them.

Before listening to your views on this situation I am pleased to convey to you the deep esteem of President Clinton and Secretary of State Mrs. Albright to you. They highly appreciate your leadership and courage in the solution of conflict existing in this region.

I assure you that the USA is ready to do its best to help you to establish peace in this region.”

Heydar Aliyev:”First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the greetings of President Clinton and Secretary of State Mrs. Albright. I would like to ask you to convey my sincerest greetings, best wishes and esteem to President Bill Clinton and Mrs. Albright.

As you stated, indeed, in 1997 my official visit to the USA was a historical event and a stage for the development of the USA-Azerbaijani relations. Our cooperation created sincere friendly relations among Mr. President Bill Clinton, Mrs. Albright and me. I highly appreciate these friendly relations and consider them valuable both for me and the Azerbaijani people.

I would like to express my gratitude once more to President of the USA, Secretary of State and other officials for the care and attention to me while I was receiving treatment in the USA- in Cleveland Hospital in April-May. I have told our people many times and I repeat it now that the care and attention paid by Mr. President and Mrs. Albright to me were perhaps stronger than the treatment of the doctors. Our people are grateful for that.  The Azerbaijani people, our citizens are grateful that President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Mrs. Albright and the doctors in Cleveland treated me well, so that I can work with fresh power for people again. Thank God, I passed that period. I have fully recovered and perhaps, work more energetically than I used to. I thank you for it.

I completely support your views on the themes of our present negotiations. These issues are very important both for you and us. I suppose that by sharing the same views by holding these discussions, helping each other are very important for Azerbaijan and the USA.

The words you said, the appreciation of my efforts to establish peace and stability in the region by Mr. President and Secretary of State Mrs. Albright give birth to great emotions in me.

Indeed, I am faithful to peace as President Bill Clinton, Mrs. Albright and you. I support the peaceful solution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the region.  I think that my cooperation with Mr. Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Mrs. Albright is very important in this field. That is why, we shall have a long conversation today. “

Strobe Talbott: “Mr. President, I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio state. I still consider it my home town. I believe that Ohio took a good care of you because this region of world still needs your leadership.”

Heydar Aliyev: “Thank you very much. Cleveland is a very beautiful city. I got acquainted with the city a bit. There are fine people and great doctors. It is pleasant for me that you were born in such a beautiful city where I was treated. It is your homeland. “

Strobe Talbott: “That city has a good baseball team, but we shall not talk about it. Mr. President I am ready to work with you.”

Heydar Aliyev: “Well, I suppose our conversation shall be in private later. That is why, I thank to the representatives of media and ask them to leave us.”

“Azerbaijan” newspaper, October 27, 1999