From the conversation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Elizabeth II - London, Buckingham Palace, July 21, 1998

Elizabeth II: Mr. President, I welcome you sincerely and express my satisfaction with your official visit to Great Britain.

Your Excellency, I remember well our meeting at the festivities held in London in May 1995, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the victory in the Second World War. I must also note that the United Kingdom is interested in the development of relations with Azerbaijan.

Heydar Aliyev: Your Majesty, I am very pleased to meet you. Strengthening mutually beneficial contacts in all the spheres with Great Britain, one of influential states of the world, is of great importance for the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Your Majesty, everybody knows and loves you in Azerbaijan. The relations of our nations have an ancient history. There were economic, in particular, commercial relations, between Azerbaijan and England in the Middle Ages.

Elizabeth II: I have sufficient information about your country. The work held in Azerbaijan in the recent years under your leadership in the sphere of construction of a legal, democratic, secular state is observed with great interest in England.

I express my gratitude to you for the conditions created in Azerbaijan for the activity of the British companies. I highly appreciate the importance of contacts in all the spheres, in particular, in the sphere of science, culture and education.

Heydar Aliyev: The steps undertaken by the both sides in this sphere have great importance. You know that the oil companies of Great Britain take an active participation in the realization of the signed historical contracts on joint oil developments in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea.

After the meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair today a number of new contracts will be signed between Azerbaijan and Great Britain. The contacts between our countries in economic sphere are on a high level at present. Azerbaijan has great successes in the construction of a legal and democratic state, but it has faced a number of problems, too. One of them is the military aggression of Armenia, which is going on since 1988. As a result of this aggression, 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan has been occupied. Over a million of our citizens have became refugees and still live in hard conditions in tents. Hundreds of towns and villages of Azerbaijan have been destroyed and burned out on the occupied territories. The houses, schools, hospitals were plundered, and the ancient monuments of culture have been ruined. At present the regime of cease-fire is in force, and blood is not shed. However, it does not mean that there is peace. 

Speaking about the negotiations held in the frames of the Minsk Group on the peaceful settlement of this conflict and about the co-chairs in the Minsk Group of OSCE established for this purpose the three great powers – USA, Russia and France, we can note that their proposals on the settlement of this conflict were met with an interest by Azerbaijan and studied attentively. At the Lisbon Summit of OSCE in December 1996, the principles for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by political means, were supported by 53 states, including Great Britain. We are for the immediate settlement of this conflict on the basis of these principles. 

I emphasize the importance of the immediate settlement of this conflict for the restoration of peace, prosperity in the region, the necessity of drawing the attention of the world community and influential states to this problem.

Azerbaijan, which has taken the road of democratic development, market relations in economy, has established close relations with the world community, opens wide its doors to foreign businessmen, attaches great significance to the integration of its economy into the world economy and to its participation as an equal member in the European structures. I want to remind that at present more than 100 companies of the world countries operate in our republic.

There were close contacts between the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan at the beginning of the last century. We are happy that our independent republic is an ally of such an influential state as Great Britain and has found a close friend in its person. Friendly contacts have been established between Azerbaijan and Great Britain within the framework of international organizations. We are confident that England will make more efforts to support the just work of our country.

I inform that the countries of the world display great interest in the establishment of mutually beneficial relations with Azerbaijan. In our republic, which is of great strategic importance in the region, a lot of positive measures have been taken in the sphere of normal work of the European-Caucasian-Asian transport corridor. The TRACECA program is being realized successfully. The Transcaucasian transport corridor has linked Azerbaijan with the Caucasus and Europe within a very short time.

On September 7-8 of this year, within the framework of TRACECA program, there will be held an international conference under the guide the European Union on the restoration of the ancient Silk Road in Baku, which is of great importance for the establishment of economic and cultural relations between the nations of the world now. We are sure that this international measure will have great significance for all the states participating here.

The economic reforms and privatization are conducted successfully and consistently Azerbaijan for the first time among the countries of the former Soviet republics transferred the land to private ownership. Political pluralism and freedom of speech have been established in the country. Our independent republic always attaches great significance to the study and application of experience of the developed countries of the west in all the spheres.

I believe that my official visit to this country as President of Azerbaijan will open a new stage for the incessant development of the relations between Azerbaijan and Great Britain in the sphere of science, culture and education. I express my satisfaction with the efforts made by the businessmen of England, working in our republic on the expansion of cultural, humanitarian relations between our nations.

(Having reminded that during the meeting in 1995 he invited Her Majesty to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani President said that his people would be very glad to receive her as an esteemed guest.)

Elizabeth II: Mr. President, I express my gratitude for this invitation, I am greatly interested in Azerbaijan.