From the talk of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with the Special Adviser to the US State Secretary for Newly Independent States, Ambassador-at-Large Steven Sestanovic and the US co-chair of the Minsk Group of OSCE Carey Cavanaugh - Baku, January 22, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Sestanovic!

Mr. Cavano!

Mr. Escudero!

Distinguished guests!

Welcome to Azerbaijan! I am very glad to meet you again. I believe that our meetings help the solution of many problems facing us.

Recently significant and interesting meetings with the US representatives have been held in Azerbaijan. A very important conference with the participation of the ambassadors of the pre-Caspian and Caucasian countries, the US representatives, some businessmen was held in the US Embassy in Azerbaijan. I met the participants of the conference, listened to them and delivered my views.

The document on the joint commission for economic cooperation between the USA and Azerbaijan was signed by the Minister of Finance from Azerbaijan and Ambassador Mr. Taylor from the USA. The office of the US Trade Chamber here in Azerbaijan was ceremonially opened. Today you are in Azerbaijan. Thus, this week may be called the US week in Azerbaijan.

Nowadays there are days of mourning for us. We commemorated the 10th anniversary of the tragedy committed by the Communist regime against the Azerbaijani people on the 20th of January 20, 1990. That tragedy can never be forgotten. Different events held in January, including the ceremony organized in the Republican Palace on the 19th of January, visit of thousands of people to the Martyrs` Avenue demonstrate that our people have not forgotten this tragedy. On the other hand, this demonstrates the solidarity of our nation.

Now the floor is yours.

Steven Sestanovic: Mr. President, we thank you for welcoming and receiving us. It is always dangerous to visit after many delegations. Using this opportunity I thank you for your hospitality shown to the Americans visiting your country and for this meeting.

Your reminded the events of 1990 to us, it is important for us, too. Because it encourages us to have a look at what has been done during the recent 10 years. The January of 1990 was a hard period. Then all we were witnessing the collapse of the former regime.

Looking back at the period of past 10 years and looking forward the next 10 years, we can not but see the progress in the construction of the new world order.

The visits of a number of the American delegations to Azerbaijan within this week tell of the role of Azerbaijan in the new world order. The presence of the US ambassadors in the countries of the region means that these countries are already independent and engaged in the formation of their social, economic, political institutions.

'The contract signed by Ambassador Taylor on establishment of the working group for the expansion of economic cooperation between the USA and Azerbaijan, as well the recent negotiations on Baku-Ceyhan led by Ambassador Wolf show that there are great opportunities for expanding the economic relations between the countries. The bilateral relations between our countries are developing; we are also researching the opportunities of cooperation in regional issues.

The issues you discussed with President Clinton cover not only the bilateral relations between the USA and Azerbaijan, but the regional cooperation as well. By the way, I would like to deliver the best regards of President Clinton to you and remind to you his words. President Clinton said that he is ready to spend much time during the rest of his tenure for the establishment of peace in your region.

When hearing your New Year congratulations addressed to the Azerbaijani people, we thought that President Clinton`s words expressed your belief in the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem in 2000. Undoubtedly, the USA is not alone in order to gain a progress in this field.

Ambassador Cavanaugh is our co-chair in the Minsk Group of OSCE. The Minsk Group is developinga new proposal on the peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Last week together with Mr. Cavanaugh I held high level meetings in the UN, the World Bank and other institutions in order to search how they will assist if we achieve the regulation of the conflict. In those meetings we felt that the heads of those organizations understand the scale of the resources necessary for the regulation and restoration. We are also ready to help you after the solution of the conflict. The visits of the American delegations last week, our present meeting and the current situation in the bilateral relations between our countries demonstrate the successes in our relations achieved in the recent 10 years.

I promise you that no one from the USA will visit you next week. Mr. President, we thank you for receiving us.

Heydar Aliyev: I shall not be here next week. Mr. Sestanovic, thank you for your words. Mr. Clinton`s regards are important for me. Please deliver my best regards and wishes to him. I have had a number of meetings with Mr. Clinton since 1994. During our meeting in the White House, Washington in April 1994 he told me that he would solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict till the end of his tenure. He said the same words during our meeting in Istanbul on November 19; you took part in that meeting. I am satisfied with those words. We really hope that we shall solve the conflict peacefully in 2000.

Therefore, I stated that the conflict will be solved peacefully in 2000 and the IDPs will return home.

My words created big hopes in our public. Some people don`t believe. They even criticize my statement. But I believe that with the efforts of our government and the Minsk Group the problem can be solved in 2000.

I highly appreciate the work Mr. Cavanaugh is doing within the framework of the Minsk Group. We witness the intensive efforts of the USA both within the framework of the Minsk Group and bilateral negotiations with us for the solution of the conflict; we highly appreciate that.

Of course, we need a proposal from the Minsk Group, which will speed the process up. I note it specially, because sometimes the Minsk Group did not do so. At the same time, the bilateral negotiations between the USA and Azerbaijan are of great importance for us.

Mr. Sestanovic, your practical work, as well as the work of Mr. Cavanaugh and others in connection with the restoration after our occupied territories are liberated is very valuable. There have been a lot of meetings and negotiations for the solution of the conflict since the establishment of the Minsk Group seven years ago. However, there has never been a proposal on the restoration of distinction in the occupied territory after its liberation. But now you are doing a practical work. We are thankful for it. It shows that you believe that the occupied territories will be liberated soon.

We understand that everything in the occupied territories must be recreated. Since all the constructions in the occupied territories have been ruined, we need to do a lot.

We need assistance of the US government, the World Bank and international financial centers in connection with it.. Without it no work can be done. I highly appreciate your activity in this field. I think that we need to establish peace and start the restoration soon.

Steven Sestanovic: Mr. President, I fully agree with you that readiness to do a lot for the return of IDPs home is of great importance. Those people will need help for restoration of their homes after their return.

We think that the biggest support for the solution of the conflict is belief. Those people must believe that after they return home, they will be assisted to restore their homes. We accept this as a very important part of the regulation. Therefore, we must be ready for that. Of course, we need to be realistic, because this will be a long-term process. I thank you once again for this meeting.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Translated from newspaper "Azerbaycan", January 23, 2000

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Azerbaijan - USA

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Azerbaijan - USA